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Dealing With Loose Skin After Weight Loss

12/02/2022 08:07

Losing weight is exciting. You look better, feel better about yourself, and are healthier. But there can also be left over loose skin that just doesn't go away. Don't ever let this thought slow you down. There are a number of simple ways to deal with sagging skin problems.

Some people use surgery to remove the excess skin. Here are some less extreme ways to tighten your skin after weight loss. There are also things you can do during your weight loss that will help prevent sagging skin later.

Why is there loose skin after weight loss?

Before we look at what you can do to get rid of loose skin after weight loss, let’s explain why it happens. Your skin is elastic and that’s a good thing because the elasticity of your skin helps it bounce back into shape when it has been stretched.

However, when you gain weight, not only does your skin’s elasticity become increasingly stretched for a long period of time, but your body fat is also unevenly distributed beneath your skin, too. This means that when you lose the weight, your skins’ elasticity has stretched to the point where it doesn’t bounce back to its original shape. It also means that some areas of your skin will be more affected than others due to the way your body fat was distributed. So, what are the main reasons why you have loose skin after weight loss?

  • Collagen - your body produces collagen, and it is this that determines how elastic your skin is. If you remember your youth, your skin was very elastic but as you grow older, you produce less collagen; hence the fine lines and wrinkles developing. Well, the same process occurs when your weight increases; your body produces less collagen and therefore less elasticity. How loose your skin is after weight loss really depends on how long you have been overweight, which is the indicator to the amount of collagen produced and the level of elasticity.
  • Tension – when your skin is healthy, the tension of your skin, known as skin turgor, has low elasticity, i.e. it doesn’t move much. However, when you are overweight your skin may not be as healthy (your body health affects the condition of your skin) and therefore it may not be as tight, and your skin is more likely to sag.
  • Moisture – when we say moisture, we mean hydration. The more hydrated your skin is, the better the elasticity. If you’re not eating a balanced diet that includes the right level of healthy foods to maintain sufficient vitamins and minerals in your body so that it can produce the right hormones, your skin will become dehydrated and therefore be unable to maintain muscle tone, cell regeneration or enough collagen. This reduces skin elasticity, too.

It can often be disappointing for people that have lost weight to be left with excess skin, particularly if they were expecting to look and feel better. Most loose skin will be found around the tummy, hip and thigh areas, and could mean it will still be difficult to fit into your smaller size clothes.

What to do if you are experiencing loose skin?

There are ways to reduce and tighten loose skin, both surgical and non-surgical. Let’s look at the non-surgical first.

  • Collagen supplements – it is probably better to start taking collagen supplements at the same time as starting your weight loss plan. Hydrolyzed collagen, or collagen hydrolysate, promotes healthy, supple skin. It also protects the skin from the losing too much of its elasticity. According to research, using a liquid collagen supplement improved skin’s elasticity and moisture.
  • Firming creams – some topical lotions include hydrolyzed collagen and elastin which can help to tighten the skin and improve elasticity over a period. However, some of the molecules from these ingredients are not easily absorbed by your skin and therefore may not be as effective as you’d like.
  • Exercise – as you are probably exercising to lose weight, continuing to exercise will go a long way towards dealing with loose skin. Resistance training on a regular basis is one of the best methods for people of all ages to not only develop toned muscle, which helps to produce collagen, but also reduce loose skin. The types of resistance training exercises include sit ups, push ups, squats, the plank and leg raises. You can also use resistance bands and weights to help you. If you’ve not done any resistance training before, it is highly recommended to go to an organised class or a gym where you will be shown the correct way to do each exercise, thereby avoiding any injuries.
  • A balanced diet – again, you are probably on a balanced diet but this needs to be maintained. Make sure you are consuming sufficient levels of vitamins and nutrients so your body can naturally produce collagen to boost skin health. This includes:
  • oProtein – essential if you want to boost skin health and toned muscles. Protein contains lysine and proline amino acids, which helps with collagen production.
  • oVitamin C – an antioxidant, it helps with collagen production in the body and protects your skin from UV damage.
  • oOmega-3 fatty acids – as well as anti-aging properties, these fish fatty acids boost skin suppleness.
  • oWater – its important to ensure you stay hydrated to help your skin look and feel better.
  • Radiofrequency/infrared light treatment – although medical, it is a non-invasive form which uses energy beneath the skin which causes your cells to shrink. It also boosts the production of new collagen and elastin in the body, helping to tighten the skin and add flexibility.

The alternative to non-surgical treatments is opting for surgery which, if you have a lot of loose skin, may be an option.

Surgical treatments include tummy tucks and lifts to the arms, body, face and breasts. Essentially, the surgeon will remove the excess skin and fat, and wraps the skin to create a tighter, smoother appearance. However, the surgeon will expect certain requirements to be met, such as consistent weight stability over a period of time.

Dealing with loose skin after weight loss is not always easy but there are a range of non-surgical and surgical options, depending on how much loose skin you have, that can help.