Our body is covered by a protective barrier which is the skin. It is the largest organ of your body and it consists of different layers. Elastin and collagen are located in the innermost layer of the skin (1).
Eighty percent of the skin’s structure is composed of collagen which is responsible for making it strong and firm. Elastin, on the other hand, provides elasticity and keeps the skin tight.
As a person gains weight, the skin expands to accommodate the increased growth. This usually appears in the abdomen and one example is during pregnancy. The skin expands for almost nine months and retracts several months after giving birth.
On the contrary, skin expansion in obese and overweight people may start during childhood or adolescence. In this case, the skin is significantly stretched for a long time which causes damage to the elastin and collagen fibers. With this, the skin loses the ability to retract (2). This results in loose skin. When a person loses huge weight, there’s a tendency that the loose skin hangs or sag.
Why Skin Gets Loose After Weight Loss
The skin is an elastic living organ that is comprised of cells. When the skin cells on the epidermis are lost, new cells replace them. On the other hand, the elastic tissues and fibers on the dermis and subdermal contract or stretch depending on how they are treated.
Losing weight quickly ended up losing the layers of fat over your body keeping them stretched. The negative effect is that they don’t have enough time to recover their elasticity and adapt to their new shape.
Aside from losing weight, loose skin or excess skin may happen due to poor nutrition, age, excessive sun exposure, dehydration and smoking.
Problems Related to Excess Loose Skin
Losing weight is a common struggle for many people who want to get rid of extra weight. This is the reason why they would do anything just to achieve their goals. The media play a big role in influencing people about different ways to lose weight.
Getting fit is easier said than done. It takes a lot of pain, tears and sweat before you achieve the body shape and weight that want. You must be very careful in losing weight. Make sure to do it slowly to avoid developing loose skin. To give you insights about the possible problems that you may experience in having excess skin, read on this.
- Dealing with the reality
People who engage in the aggressive weight loss process may suffer the reality of being like a baggy, saggy elephant. Accepting the reality of what happened to your body is one of the problems to deal with.
- Finding the right clothes
If excess skin develops after losing weight, there’s a great possibility that you’ll find difficulty in finding the right fit of clothes. It can be struggling to fit your sagging skin comfortably inside your clothes.
- Dealing with the public
Obviously, when you go out people would stare at you and at your loose skin. You may look weird to other people. Thus, you may suffer from inferiority and it will affect your self-confidence.
- Dealing with your feelings and emotions
Losing weight is just half the battle. Although you have achieved your target weight, you will still need to deal with your feelings and emotions in accepting the result of sagging skin. The reality and challenges of getting rid of the excess skin would require hard work.
Looking at oneself as having saggy skin can also cause a psychological impact. You may feel self-disgust experiencing the impact of your quest to lose weight. It may cause you to isolate yourself from others and even from your loved ones.
- Dealing with hopelessness
Not all people having loose skin would simply accept the reality. The majority of them give up and lose hope. They may even think of gaining weight back again just to fill in the loose skin. Others think that surgery can be the best option.
Rather than stressing yourself about your condition, you should focus on finding the solution. You can try anything that you believe can help in tightening loose skin after weight loss. Make sure that it won’t put a risk to your health.
- Dealing with the cost
Excessive loose skin won’t only impact psychologically, emotionally and physically. It would also cost you financially especially if you consider removing it through surgery. If you don’t have enough money to fund surgery, you can consider natural ways of getting rid of excess skin.
There’s nothing wrong if you aim of losing massive weight. But, you must ensure to follow the right diet and exercise regimen to avoid developing loose skin. Likewise, you need to be careful in taking unadulterated diet pills claiming to help you lose weight. (Read 5 Weight Loss Supplements That Actually Work)
10 Ways to Naturally Tighten Skin After Weight Loss
Losing weight effectively is an achievement. But, if it involves loose or excess skin, then it carries a great deal of disappointment. If that’s the case, you shouldn’t be hopeless because there are natural ways that can help in improving the elasticity of your skin. It can also help in tightening loose skin.
- Observe your weight loss
If you notice that you’re developing massive loose skin, you must take time curbing your weight loss regimen. You should give time to allow your skin to shrink and adjust to your new size. Try to look for a weight loss program that will help not only to reduce loose skin but also to build muscles.
- Stay hydrated
Drinking plenty of water helps in improving your overall health. It also works best in rejuvenating loose skin. An increase in water intake can make your skin tighter, more radiant and smoother. Adequate water intake can restore the elasticity of your skin.
- Engage in weight resistance training
Performing strength training helps to tighten loose skin after losing weight. It creates a new layer of muscle under the skin making it tighter. That’s why if you want to fix your excess skin naturally, you must perform weight resistance training three times a week. Rebuilding your muscle is the best way to tighten your skin.
- Belly exercise
Most likely, stretch marks form on the belly area once you have lost lots of weight. Doing belly toning exercises can tighten the tummy area. You can do crunches, sit-ups, leg raises, air bikes, pelvic thrusts and side bridges.
- Take time to get massages
Getting massages once a week helps in increasing blood circulation. It’s also beneficial in tightening the loose skin after weight loss. It does not necessarily mean getting a massage therapist because you can do it on your own. You can also add your favorite essential oils that will make your body calm.
- Moisturize your skin
As your skin loses its elasticity, it sags easily. To allow the growth of new skin cells, you must moisturize your skin using a moisturizer that contains Vitamin E. As much as possible, you should use natural moisturizers such as coconut oil.
You can also apply firming creams onto your skin. The cream should contain elastin and collagen to boost skin tightness.
- Limit exposure to the sun
Too much exposure to the sun negatively impacts the skin’s elasticity. If you go sunbathing, never do it for a long time. The sun’s rays will damage your skin cells making your skin dry out. Likewise, you should also avoid swimming in chlorinated water. After swimming and sunbathing, you should apply moisturizer to your skin.
- Take certain nutrients
Once the elasticity of your skin is lost, the best thing to do is to boost the production of collagen. This can be possible by taking certain nutrients such as protein that plays a big role in maintaining healthy skin. Likewise, you should also take amino acids like proline and lysine that stimulate collagen production.
Vitamin C is also essential for collagen synthesis and it protects the skin against sun damage. Omega-3 fatty acids help in increasing skin elasticity.
- Visualize having tight skin
Visualization can motivate you to achieve your goal. Although it doesn’t work like magic, it is powerful. Visualizing having tight skin will encourage you to act on what is right in obtaining tight skin.
- Be patient
Dealing with loose skin is not that easy. You must be patient waiting for the time that your body adapts to its new size. Keep in mind that it will take time before your skin regains its original elasticity.
Developing loose skin after weight loss is very frustrating. Other people who followed the tips mentioned above were happy with the results. Thus, you can try any of those ways to tighten your skin and explore which one would work best for you.
While you want to fix your loose skin, you should also understand that elasticity reacts differently according to the stage in life and the age of an individual. Aside from doing those things to tighten excess skin, you must accept wholeheartedly the reality. This way, you can endure the entire long process of tightening your skin.
Medical Treatments to Tighten Loose Skin
Tightening loose skin after weight loss can be done either through non-surgical or surgical procedures. If all the natural ways of tightening excess skin don’t work for you, the last resort might be medical intervention.
Nonsurgical procedures of skin tightening are getting very popular in the past years. It is the best alternative to invasive procedures for correcting skin laxity. This procedure is ideal for mild to moderate excess skin on your abdomen, arms, neck, or face.
- Radiofrequency/Intense Pulsed Light
This non-surgical treatment targets the deep layer of the skin. The heat produced by radiofrequency or IPL does not affect or damage the outer skin layer. The natural healing response of your body causes changes in skin collagen that result in skin tightening.
- Ultrasound treatments
This medical treatment uses ultrasonic energy that targets the dermal or deep layer of the skin. The ultrasonic energy stimulates the growth of new collagen that lifts and tightens the skin.
This procedure of removing loose skin utilizes a combination of radiofrequency, infrared light and massage. VelaShape will work best in reducing loose skin on the belly and arms.
On the other hand, those who have a significant amount of loose skin may consider surgical treatments including the following procedures:
- Body-contouring surgery
This procedure is employed to remove a large amount of excess skin. To remove the loose skin and fat, a large incision is made. After removing the loose skin, the incision is sewn to minimize scarring.
This surgical procedure tightens both the skin and the muscles of the abdomen. Abdominoplasty is a cosmetic surgery that’s why it’s not covered by insurance.
If you will consider medical intervention, you must choose a credible and trustworthy surgeon. The surgeon must have experience in doing nonsurgical or invasive skin tightening. He or she should be licensed to perform the procedure.
The cost of medical treatment is another factor to consider. Obviously, it will cost you a big amount of money including the surgeon’s fee and many others. However, when choosing a surgeon, make sure not to compromise the training and experience over the cost.
Undergoing nonsurgical or surgical skin tightening involves complications. That’s why before deciding to undergo any procedure, you must discuss it first with your chosen surgeon.
The excess or loose skin developed after weight loss can cause distress. To avoid this condition, it’s important to be extra careful in choosing and implementing a weight loss regimen. Losing weight should be done gradually and within your control.
You should not think about losing weight quickly as it won’t do good to your skin and your health. To obtain the best possible results for tightening loose skin, you should combine eating right and exercising. Whatever ways you may choose to tighten excess skin after weight loss, make sure that your health is not at risk.
is a registered dietitian with over 10 years of experience in the field of nutrition. She has a Master’s degree in Nutritional Science from Dhaka University and has worked with various clients to help them achieve their health goals through personalized diet plans. Mounota is passionate about educating people on the benefits of a healthy diet and lifestyle and has written extensively on the subject for various publications.