Many people who experience rapid, large-scale weight loss find that just dropping the weight doesn’t leave them feeling immediately beach ready. Major weight changes in a short period of time can lead to loose, excess skin, which can make people feel uncomfortable with their appearance and wanting to discover how to tighten skin after weight loss.
What Causes Loose Skin?
The amount of hanging skin you develop when you lose weight depends on a number of factors. If you lose the weight more gradually, you may have less loose skin, as your body is likely to better able to respond and adjust to these factors. Similarly, yo-yo dieting can make excess skin more likely, as frequent fluctuations in weight tax the skin and increase the chances of it becoming loose. Additionally, the more elastic your skin is, the more it will bounce back, so age and skin quality will also affect how much loose skin you have as well.
So how do you tighten skin after major weight loss? Michael Matthews of Muscle for Life points out that sometimes people think they have excess skin, when in fact, they don’t. What sometimes appears to be skin can actually include an additional layer of stubborn fat hiding underneath the skin. Unless people are in a relatively low body-fat range (9 to 10 per cent for men and 17 to 18 per cent for women), the look of floppy, saggy skin could be reduced by further weight loss.
However, in cases where the skin is genuinely loose, one way to tighten the the skin is to try and fill it in with muscle. Think of your skin as a pair of pantyhose. If there’s nothing inside the hose, it will look droopy and empty. Fill it up, and it will look tighter and more appealing.
It’s important to note here that when people go through serious weight loss, they often lose more than just fat. Unless you’re putting a conscious effort into doing strength training while dropping weight, it’s very common to lose muscle as well. Building up muscle is essential in filling in some of the missing space and reducing the appearance of sagging or loose skin.
Another basic method to get rid of loose skin is to work with the skin’s elasticity. Increasing the elasticity of your skin will make it cling more tightly to the structures beneath and sag less. So how can you improve your skin elasticity?
Some studies suggest that vitamins C and E (whether in one’s diet or as a lotion) can help protect the skin’s elastin and collagen from free radicals, which can help reduce wrinkles and maintain skin elasticity. Lotions containing copper may also help.
Supplementing with fish oil may also be able to help. In one three-month study, women taking an oral supplement including fish oil improved their skin elasticity by 10 per cent. Other studies suggest massage may also be helpful, as it improves circulation and therefore also skin health.
People looking to improve their skin elasticity should protect themselves from overexposure to the sun, avoid smoking, moisturize daily, manage stress, eat a healthy diet and stay hydrated to take care of their skin.
When all else fails, there are surgeries that can tighten loose skin after weight loss. This is usually reserved for those who have lost a very significant amount of weight and have been able to keep it off for a long period of time. While skin-removal surgery can have good results in some cases, prospective patients should always make sure to research the procedures carefully and be aware of all possible side-effects and risks. Surgery is one of the most effective and powerful ways of removing excess skin, but it also tends to be invasive, traumatic and expensive. Body contouring surgery is very complicated, and often multiple surgeries are required. There is a very high risk of post-operative complications and scarring is extensive. Even after all that, it is not guaranteed to give satisfactory results. Think very carefully about the pros and cons before electing body contouring surgery.
Finally, people who have loose skin after losing a large amount of weight should consider cultivating a sense of acceptance. If you can learn to feel comfortable with the changes in your body, you may realize that a little bit of excess skin isn’t the end of the world. You are beautiful, happy and healthy.
There are a number of ways you can embrace a sense of peace and self-worth. Focus on the positives of your body, both in its appearance and in the wonderful things that it can do. Stop comparing your body to others’, or even to your own body at other times of your life, and appreciate it for what it is. Replace negative thoughts about your body with positive ones.
You’ve worked hard to achieve your goals — now is the time to be proud of your accomplishments and appreciate the skin you’re in.
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