What causes loose skin after weight loss?
Collagen becomes damaged by weight gain and can’t retract to where it once was. Tighten loose skin after weight loss by eating a balanced diet, exercising, taking collagen supplements, and getting surgery.
Losing a significant amount of weight is an accomplishment for those who may be at risk for weight-related health problems. Whether you lose weight through diet and exercise or through weight loss surgery, though, losing a lot of weight quickly can leave you with loose skin.
Here’s what you need to know about tightening up loose skin after weight loss.
Did you know that your skin is actually the largest organ in your body? Its main function is to protect your organs from the outside world. Your skin has several layers. The inner layers are made up of proteins, one of which is called elastin. Elastin gives the outer layer of your skin its stretchiness and also keeps it tight. Your skin expands when you gain weight, so it stretches out.
Over time, the elastin fibers in your skin become damaged and can’t shrink back. Your skin also contains collagen, which helps keep it firm and gives it texture. This collagen also becomes damaged by weight gain and can’t retract to where it once was. If you lose weight, especially a lot of weight over a short period of time, your skin has difficulty retracting and might hang off of you instead.
Some people’s skin retracts more or less easily than the skin of others. Some factors that could affect loose skin include:
- The amount of weight lost
- Weight distribution
- Long-term sun exposure
Problems related to loose skin
Losing a large amount of weight is no easy feat, but some people feel discouraged or embarrassed when they have loose, saggy skin. Loose skin can occur on any part of your body, especially moist areas like your underarms and tummy. Loose skin folds can be uncomfortable and can cause problems like chafing and skin infections. These infections can then produce a noticeable odor. Loose skin can also interfere with some kinds of exercise.
Some people also feel uncomfortable because of the way that loose skin looks. This may prevent you from wearing the kinds of clothes that you want. Some people also hide loose skin in baggy clothing or try tucking it into tight undergarments to disguise it.
Natural remedies to tighten loose skin
After you lose weight, there are several things you can try to tighten loose skin. Natural remedies may not only help with loose skin after weight loss, but they can also help you build healthy habits, too.
Eat a balanced diet. Good nutrition, especially a diet that includes lean protein, may help reduce loose skin. Eating well will help you keep the weight off and feel better, making it easier to sleep well and exercise. Protein can help you build and maintain muscle mass. This muscle mass may help to fill in loose skin, making it less noticeable. Eating lean protein can also help boost your skin’s elasticity.
Exercise. Working out goes hand in hand with good nutrition when it comes to weight loss. Exercise can help you build muscle, which will make your skin look tighter. Resistance and strength training exercises are the most beneficial when it comes to building muscle mass. These exercises also help to burn calories at a faster rate.
Supplements. Collagen supplements are made to help tighten collagen fibers in the body. These supplements can help to tighten loose skin all over the body. Collagen usually comes in powder form and can be added to drinks or smoothies.
Certain vitamins may also help to boost your skin’s elasticity. Talk to your doctor about taking vitamin supplements, including those that are known to promote skin health, such as:
Surgery for loose skin removal
For people who have lost 100 pounds or more, the most successful option is loose skin removal through cosmetic surgery. There are several different procedures to remove loose skin depending on the area that is being targeted. These procedures are known as body contouring.
Body contouring. Body contouring removes loose skin and trims extra fat so that your skin looks smooth. This shows off the tone and shape of your muscle. This kind of surgery can take months or even years to complete since it’s done in stages. Engaging in body contouring is a big decision since there are several things to keep in mind.
- Scarring: Removing loose skin will leave extensive scars.
- Cost: Cosmetic surgery isn’t covered by most insurance plans.
- Weight: You must be committed to maintaining your weight if you’re considering body contouring. Gaining weight will stretch out scars created by your surgery or may cause new stretch marks. Losing more weight can create additional, loose pockets of skin.
- Fat loss: Body contouring alone isn’t enough to remove excess fat. Besides natural weight loss, the only other way to remove excess fat is through liposuction.
Procedures. Since there are several kinds of surgery when it comes to loose skin removal, you may need to have more than one surgery to get the look that you want. Some potential procedures include:
- Lifts: Saggy skin on the arms, stomach, chest, and thighs can be removed to tighten an area and show the muscle underneath these areas. Extra fat is also trimmed away during these surgeries.
- Panniculectomy: This surgery removes the fold of skin, called the pannus, that hangs below the belly button. This fold is quite common in people who have lost a lot of weight. The procedure leaves you with a smoother, firmer midsection.
- Abdominoplasty: Also called a tummy tuck, this surgery smooths and hardens the stomach. In this procedure, stretch marks are also removed, and muscles and tendons in the stomach are tightened. This gives a more defined shape to your stomach.
- Lower body lift: One of the most extensive skin removal surgeries, this removes excess skin and tones lower body muscles to give them shape.
Talk to your doctor about the best way to tighten loose skin to help you achieve your desired look following a lifestyle change.
Medically Reviewed on 8/26/2022
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Bariatric & Metabolic Center of Colorado: “Dealing With Excess Skin After Weight Loss Surgery.”
BetterHealth Channel: “Body contouring surgery.”
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Nemours TeensHealth: “How Do I Get Rid of Extra Skin After Weight Loss?”
Premier Vein & Vascular: “Tightening Loose Skin After Losing Weight.”
Temple Health: “Managing Excess Skin After Weight-Loss Surgery.”