The newest flex that has come up in recent years is losing weight drastically. People flaunt their extreme workout regimes and post their transformed bodies all over social networking sites like TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube.
What people fail to realize is what comes after massive weight loss. One of them is the loose folds of extra skin left behind that we desperately try to hide.
In today’s article, we will learn why we experience loose skin after weight loss and how to get rid of this excess. Also, we will talk about the preventive measures to avoid loose skin after weight loss and 4 excellent ways to reduce it.
So, let’s dive right in!
Loose Skin After Weight Loss
As suggested by scientific research, losing weight to address health problems comes with significant health benefits like lower incidences of heart diseases and better metabolic functioning of tissues.
However, this may often result in people ending up with really saggy, loose skin. This may make people insecure about their physical appearance and even cause discomfort.
Losing drastic amounts of weight too quickly might result in excess skin after the person attains a healthy weight. You may experience this depending on a few factors like age and people’s daily diets.
It is noted that younger, obese people showed lesser loose skin after weight loss than aged people equally as obese. This is because the elasticity of the skin in question plays a huge role in determining how fast our skin can jump back into its original form after suffering from stressful conditions like rapid and drastic weight loss.
Younger skin that is more elastic due to more collagen and can resist wear and tear more effectively than older skin that is less elastic and may not withstand wear and tear due to its lesser amounts of collagen and elastin present in it.
The elasticity of a person’s skin throughout the weight loss process dictates how much loose skin you will have if that happens.
1. What are the Factors Responsible for Loose Skin After Weight Loss?
The skin is like a protective shield around our body and provides a protective barrier against disease and infection-causing pathogens, forming a blanket of protection against the environment.
Understanding Skin Structure
To understand how we suddenly end up with flabby skin after rapid weight loss, we will need to understand the skin’s structure.
Skin is the largest organ of our body that almost covers every corner of our body. Its innermost layers are elastin proteins and up to 80% collagen. Elastin is what provides elasticity to the skin.
It helps restore skin to its original position when it expands, poked, or pinches. In contrast, collagen is associated with cellular regeneration and offers firmness and resilience to the skin.
Weight gain causes the skin to expand to accommodate the change. When skin gets excessively stretched and remains in these stress conditions for long periods, it often causes irreversible damage to the collagen and elastin protein fibres present in the skin, which would otherwise give elasticity and strength against such types of strain on skin, causing them to lose their ability to bring the skin back to its original state as suggested by studies.
Therefore, due to the damage done to the collagen and elastin fibres, loose skin might hang from the body, most noticeably in the abdomen area and around the upper arms and thigh region. In general, the more drastic and rapid the weight loss, the more pronounced the appearance of saggy skin.
Research shows that people who have surgeries like bariatric surgery to reduce weight loss have a lower rate of collagen regeneration. Also, this collagen is less resilient than the collagen present in healthy, young skin.
2. Factors Controlling Skin Elasticity
Factors contributing to loose skin after weight loss are:
2.1. Time Duration
Damage to collagen fibres occurs due to excessive skin stretching due to being overweight or obese for prolonged periods. The longer the skin is stretched, the more damage is done to the skin.
2.2. Amount of Weight lost
Losing 46 kg or more of our body weight causes a more significant amount of loose skin than a moderate loss in body weight.
Studies show that older skin tends to become loose after significant weight loss due to its lower collagen and elastin content than younger skin.
Genes play a significant role in determining how well our skin can bounce back post-weight gain and loss.
2.5. Sun Exposure
Research shows that UV rays of the sun reduce the collagen and elastin content in the skin by mitigating its production, causing loose skin.
Smoking causes reduced collagen production and increased damage to existing collagen, causing saggy skin.
3. Problems: Loose Skin After Weight Loss
Excess loose skin after weight loss comes with a string of physical and mental problems:
Studies show that self-consciousness increases post-weight loss. This becomes even more pronounced when weight loss comes with uncomfortable and saggy skin, limiting regular activity.
3.2. Reduced Physical Activity
Issues like skin rashes and chafing due to loose skin cause people to limit their physical activities. Research has shown that weight loss pushed people towards exercise, while excess skin was a detriment during exercise in some people after bariatric surgery.
3.3. Skin Problems
A study showed that out of 124 people who requested plastic surgery to tighten skin after weight loss surgery, 44% reported skin pain, ulcers, or infections due to loose skin after weight loss.
3.4. Distorted Body Image
Loose skin after weight loss may negatively impact our body image, self-esteem, and mood in general, as shown by a study.
4. Least Invasive Remedies to Tighten Loose Skin After Weight Loss
The following natural remedies help improve skin resilience and elasticity in people who have undergone gradual weight loss in moderate amounts:
4.1. Resistance Training or Weight Lifting
Studies show that activities like regular weight lifting and strength training help build muscle in women and boomers and are considered one of the most efficient and effective ways to build muscle mass naturally.
Therefore, strength training and weight lifting can improve the appearance of loose skin by increasing the muscle mass in our bodies.
Check out the video below to learn easy strength training exercises!
4.2. Collagen-Rich Foods
Collagen hydrolysate, also known as hydrolyzed collagen (HC) or collagen peptide, is a processed form of collagen commercially found in powdered form.
Studies suggest that this form of collagen, when it is used as a dietary supplement, can be easily absorbed into the bloodstream.
However, collagen hydrolysate has not been tested in people with loose skin related to significant weight, but studies suggest that collagen hydrolysate may help to protect our skin’s collagen.
Research has also shown that skin elasticity, roughness, texture, and hydration significantly improved after 12 weeks of consuming a liquid collagen supplement containing skin vitamins E and C and biotin and zinc.
In addition, collagen is also abundantly and naturally found in bone broth which has recently gained popularity in pop culture after Kylie Jenner famously endorsed its taste and skin benefits.
4.3. Hydration and Skin Health-Supporting, Nutrient-Rich Food
The following nutrients are vital for the regeneration of collagen and also support other integrants of healthy skin:
The amino acids in proteins like lysine and proline play a direct role in skin tightening via collagen production.
ii. Vitamin C
Vitamin C, an antioxidant, is essential for skin protection against damage due to free radicals caused by UV exposure. It has also been shown to support collagen production and inhibit melanin production in the skin, thereby lightening skin tone.
iii. Omega-3 fatty acids
The omega-3 fatty acids abundant in fatty fish may help promote skin elasticity, resulting in tighter skin and anti-aging effects.
Staying adequately and well hydrated may help in improving skin appearance. A study has found that women reported noticing significantly improved skin hydration on increasing daily water intake.
Research shows that nutrition plays a huge and essential role in determining our skin’s overall quality and health. Therefore it is always advised to maintain a well-balanced diet that includes many nutrient-rich food items to meet your nutritional needs.
4.4. Skin Firming Creams
Skin-firming creams contain collagen and elastin and might temporarily give plump-looking skin.
5. Medical Treatments to Tighten Loose Skin After Weight Loss
Medical or surgical treatments have more complications as they are invasive.
Below are ways in which medical treatments help tighten loose skin after significant weight loss.
Via body contouring surgery, plastic surgeons remove excess subcutaneous fat and skin from the patient.
People who undergo bariatric surgery or other surgical weight loss procedures often request surgical removal of excess skin.
Specific body-contouring surgeries include:
- Abdominoplasty or tummy tuck: skin removal from the abdomen
- Brachioplasty or arm lift: skin removal from the upper arms
- Upper-body lift: skin removal from the breasts and back
- Lower-body lift: skin removal from the belly, buttocks, hips, and thighs
- Medial thigh lift: skin removal from the thighs
An average of 1.5 years after significant weight loss, one can undergo body contouring surgeries with a certified plastic surgeon.
Body contouring surgery requires a hospital stay of 1 to 4 days. Recovery time at home varies from individual to individual and typically takes 2 to 4 weeks.
6. Less Invasive Medical Procedures
Less invasive medical procedures with a lower risk of medical complications include:
6.1. Radiofrequency treatment
Radiofrequency treatments utilize a combination of infrared light, radiofrequency, and massage to reduce loose skin.
It should be noted that this treatment does not result in drastic body fat reduction but can be beneficial in lowering small areas containing fat cells.
A study showed that bariatric surgery people found no concrete improvement in loose skin post-ultrasound therapy but did report mitigation of post-surgery pain and other symptoms.
In conclusion, although the medical treatment above comes with fewer complications to reduce body fat and excess skin, they are not as effective as body contouring surgery for showing extreme results.
7. Are There Any Home Remedies?
There are no magical home remedies that will work for you. So, do not fall for such bogus claims. Many topical products in the market claim to tighten skin like cocoa butter; however, rubbing such creams won’t make much difference.
The only thing you can do is take good care of your skin by eating healthy and limiting your smoking and alcohol habits. That’s all.
Embracing Your Flaws: Loose Skin After Weight Loss
Loose skin is an inevitable part of drastic and rapid weight loss. Embracing your imperfections with open arms can do wonders for boosting positive body image. Body positivity will surely be a welcome change in the current scenario where people are obsessed with weighing.
Going through highly invasive surgeries that come with health complications to look a certain way is not always feasible.
Post drastic weight loss, some people flaunt their loose skin with pride. This is because they consider it a badge of honour and a reminder of the battles they won over anxiety, depression, loneliness, and low self-esteem before weight loss.
Of course, if excess, loose skin is becoming detrimental to living a fulfilling and healthy life, then one should opt for surgery after exploring all their options.
Finally, the bottom line is doing what makes us feel better about ourselves regardless of what other people have to say and accepting our bodies, loose skin or not!
I hope this article on “4 excellent ways to address loose skin after weight loss” was helpful to you.