Cosmetic Surgery Tips

Can you tighten loose skin after extreme weight loss?

Loose skin after weight loss is common, particularly in those who lose 100 pounds or more. The skin may lose elasticity and sag as a side effect of such a dramatic change in size.

In this guide, we find out the following:

  • Can you tighten loose skin after extreme weight loss?
  • What is the best treatment for loose skin after weight loss?
  • Is there any treatment for loose skin after weight loss?
  • How long do body contouring results last?

Can you tighten loose skin after extreme weight loss?

Skin is partially made up of proteins called collagen and elastin fibers. These proteins give skin its firmness and allow it to snap back in place after being stretched. When the skin is stretched for an extended period of time, the collagen and elastin fibers become damaged.1

After weight loss, your skin may lack the necessary proteins to return to its original shape. The skin loses its firmness and tends to just hang on the body. 

In addition to losing elastin and collagen, the makeup of the collagen left in the skin changes as well. After losing weight, your skin contains less collagen and its composition changes.2 The makeup of your skin is also determined by other factors like age, history of smoking, general health, and family history.3 

What Are the Side Effects of Loose Skin?

After a significant weight loss many people are not bothered by excess skin and never require treatment. However, it is also possible for this extra skin to become irritated and even infected. Side effects of loose skin may include:

  • Chafing: When excess skin folds over onto itself, it rubs together and chafing can occur. This can lead to a painful, itchy rash. 
  • Infections: When loose skin folds over itself, it can be difficult to thoroughly clean each fold. Bacteria can accumulate and overgrow, causing an infection. If your skin chafes and tears slightly, the infection can enter the body.3 
  • Discomfort during exercise: Excess loose skin can cause pain and discomfort, especially during exercise. A 2013 study found that women who had loose skin after bariatric surgery cited their skin as a barrier to physical activity.4 It made exercise uncomfortable and also led to emotional discomfort and embarrassment.

Even if your loose skin has not caused any health problems, you may be bothered by the way it looks. Studies have found that having excess skin can negatively impact quality of life, self-esteem, and body image.5 

At-Home Treatments

There are some simple, healthy habits you can try at home to address loose skin. While at-home treatments can help you make small improvements to the look and feel of your skin, they won’t completely address the cause of your sagging skin or fix it completely.

Losing a significant amount of weight usually results in more skin than lifestyle changes can handle. For this reason, many people turn to medical treatments for help.

Exercise

Physical activity and strength training routines can help you maintain your weight loss and build healthy muscles.6 This will help with sagging skin because the new muscles can help to fill it out. After weight loss, you don’t have as much body fat to fill out your skin. By building lean muscles through strength training, you’ll be able to add muscles while keeping the extra weight off.

Diet

Another way to improve loose skin is with your diet. Eating a diet rich in lean proteins can help support muscles. Eating protein after strength training is especially helpful for building muscles.

Next, wash all that healthy protein down with plenty of water. Well-hydrated skin is more elastic and flexible than dehydrated skin. Unless otherwise directed by your healthcare provider, aim for about 64 to 100 fluid ounces of water per day.3 

Compression Clothing

Wearing compression clothing can help prevent some of the side effects of loose skin. Compression stockings and other garments that firmly hold loose skin together minimize friction from skin-to-skin contact. This can help reduce pain, irritation, itching, and the risk of infection. Compression clothing will not improve loose skin itself, however, only the side effects.7 

Firming Cream

Firming creams promise to firm and tighten loose skin. Unfortunately, these claims have not been proven by research, and natural or herbal remedies do not need to prove their safety or efficacy in order to be sold. Always check with your healthcare provider before trying a new skin product. 

Collagen

Preliminary studies on collagen supplements suggest that oral collagen supplements may help improve skin moisture and elasticity, and topical collagen applied directly to the skin may help reduce wrinkling and roughness.8 However, higher quality studies are needed and there isn’t any research showing a benefit for skin that is sagging after weight loss.

Additionally, supplements are not regulated in the same way as drugs and are not tested for safety and effectiveness. Always check with your healthcare provider before trying supplements.

Medical Treatments

As bariatric and weight loss surgeries have become more common, so too have procedures to address the excess skin that can result from them. If you’ve lost a lot of weight, talk with your healthcare provider about the right medical treatment for addressing loose skin.

Body Contouring Surgery

Body contouring surgery is performed by a plastic surgeon, and involves removing excess skin and fat from the body. The surgeon will also work to improve the shape of the remaining tissue, giving your body a smoother appearance.

There are several types of body contouring surgeries depending on where you have excess skin and how much you would like removed, including:9

  • Tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) 
  • Panniculectomy (skin removal surgery)
  • Arm lift (brachioplasty) 
  • Breast lift
  • Lower body lift
  • Thigh lift 

Undergoing body contouring surgery requires general anesthesia and usually spending one night in the hospital. When you are discharged home, you may require a surgical drain for excess fluid for a few weeks, as well as compression clothing. Recovery may take several months, but most people start feeling better after about four weeks.10

Body contouring surgery may be right for you if you have been able to maintain a stable weight and are not dealing with any major medical problems. Nonsmokers have better outcomes, as well as individuals who have made healthy habits like diet and exercise a part of their lives.11 

Other Medical Procedures

If you’d like to avoid surgery to address your loose skin, there are other options. VelaShape and ThermiTight are noninvasive and minimally invasive body contouring procedures that can help to tone the skin.12 These procedures may be a good fit if you have a minimal amount of excess skin to remove:

  • VelaShape uses radiofrequency, infrared light, and suction to massage the fat cells under the skin. This process is meant to stimulate the growth of new collagen and elastin, giving your skin more flexibility and definition. 
  • ThermiTight uses radiofrequency that is delivered to your cells via a catheter. The procedure heats the tissue under your skin to a safe temperature and causes it to contract and shrink. Results usually take about three to four months to show.

What is the best treatment for loose skin after weight loss?

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The aftermath of weight loss is often expected and welcomed: higher energy levels, smaller pants, and a more defined body, not to mention what it can do for your self-image and confidence. But there is one often-unexpected challenge: tightening your skin after losing weight. Lots of loose skin can be uncomfortable, frustrating, and leave you confused about what to do next. It’s often not as easy as changing your lifestyle and using at-home remedies.

Discover how to tighten your skin while losing weight, as well as how to keep it tight, and find out what causes skin to stretch in the first place.

Why does loose skin after weight loss happen?

According to Jordan Jacobs, M.D., an assistant professor of plastic and reconstructive surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, loose skin is usually caused by the following:

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Rapid weight loss

Loose skin due to rapid weight loss is usually seen in people who undergo bariatric surgery for large amounts of weight loss (more than 100 pounds). About 70 percent of people who undergo this procedure are left with excess skin. “Losing weight rapidly doesn’t give our skin adequate time to gradually contract and this results in loose, hanging skin,” says Dr. Jacobs.

So who can expect loose skin after weight loss? While it varies, mild weight loss (think: 20 pounds or less) typically doesn’t lead to excess skin, explains Joshua Zuckerman, M.D., surgical director at New York City-based Zuckerman Plastic Surgery. When it comes to problems with loose skin, a weight loss of 40 to 50 pounds can seem as big as a weight loss of 100+ pounds.

Gradual weight gain

Loose skin post-weight loss is also a product of the weight gain itself. “Skin has a finite elasticity, and if pushed beyond the limit of that elasticity upon weight gain, the skin cannot fully contract back down upon subsequent weight loss,” Dr. Zuckerman says.

Aging skin

With age, one loses the elasticity needed for loose skin to “snap” back after most weight loss. This leads to loose, wrinkled, and sagging skin, says Jaimie DeRosa, M.D., a double board-certified facial plastic surgeon and founder and lead facial plastic surgeon of DeRosa Center Plastic Surgery & Med Spa in Boston and Palm Beach.

That’s why loose skin isn’t just about how much weight you lose. Your age and skin quality also determine whether or not you’ll experience loose skin after weight loss, he says. Younger people have a better chance at avoiding excess skin than older ones; so do people with inherently high skin elasticity. (As you age, the elastic fibers and collagen molecules that give your skin its firmness lose their strength.)

Men also tend to do better in their arms and legs than women do, notes Jeffrey M. Kenkel, M.D., a professor and chair of the Betty and Warren Woodward Chair in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

How can you get rid of loose skin after weight loss?

According to Dr. Jacobs, here are some options for tightening your skin after weight loss:

Surgical removal

For significant weight loss (usually around 70 to 100 pounds), the amount of loose skin will be really hard to remove non-surgically, Dr. DeRosa says. But there are tightening procedures that work and remove excess skin in a way that the scars are in inconspicuous places, such as the pant line or underarms.

Body contouring

Patients can also turn to contouring procedures such as BodyTite and FaceTite (which can be used in conjunction with liposuction) to remove fat and tighten skin. Just be aware that these treatments may not fully address the problem unless you have a mile case of excess skin, Dr. Zuckerman notes.

Slower weight loss

While it’s not always an option (especially for those who have had bariatric surgery), gradual weight loss seems to be the best for preventing loose skin in the first place, notes Dr. Jacobs.

Exercise

Building muscle—by way of a solid exercise regimen with strength training work—is always a good idea. Plus, it can make your skin look more taut, says Holly Wyatt, M.D., professor of medicine at the University of Colorado.

In short, surgical excision (though it comes with a longer recovery) remains the gold standard, says Dr. Jacobs (and produces “profound” effects) and the results from the more minimally-invasive treatments are what you would expect: subtle, he says.

Can loose skin after weight loss go away on its own?

Not really, docs say—though remember, how much excess skin you’re left with and how well your skin responds to weight loss in the first place depends on everything from age and genetics to how much weight you lost and your skin quality. So, depending on your circumstance, you might be able to expect some changes.

“Patients who may see improvement in their loose skin are those who do not have stretch marks and younger patients who still have reasonable skin quality despite weight gain,” says Dr. Kenkel. “The quality of the skin is the key to improvement.”

Dr. Jacobs also suggests that if you’ve lost weight gradually to give your skin a full year to contract once you’ve reached your goal weight. “After this time, you are not going to see any more noticeable tightening.”

Is there any treatment for loose skin after weight loss?

Many people struggle with saggy skin after weight loss. The extra skin can create an unflattering look and feel as well as minor health issues. Luckily, there are a number of treatments for loose skin that don’t require surgery. In the course of this article, we will be discussing the possible nonsurgical method(s) to tighten loose skin after weight loss and how to prevent skin sagging in the process of weight loss.

First, let us have a look at the factors that influence skin sagginess from weight loss.

Factors that influence the loss of skin elasticity after weight loss

Your skin needs elasticity to bounce back to its original shape and size after being flexed. When you lose weight, the skin will be looser in some spots than in others because the fat is distributed unevenly underneath your skin. This loss of elasticity can have an impact on your appearance and body image after weight loss since it takes a lot of work to keep things looking good!

Production of collagen

The less collagen your body produces, the less elastic skin you’ll have. When your weight changes, it can change how much collagen your body produces, which can then lead to skin sagging and wrinkles. 

The duration of being overweight 

Due to elastin and collagen loss, the skin of someone who has been overweight or obese for a long time will be looser after weight loss.

Skin Turgor

Skin turgor is the amount of skin tension in your skin. Healthy skin has low elasticity and little to no movement over time. After losing weight, your skin may not be able to retract as easily, which can cause the skin to sag and look older than it really is. Over time, this can affect how well your body looks and feels on the outside, as well as how you feel about yourself on the inside.

Skin Moisture

When your skin lacks enough moisture, you can have some skin elasticity problems. If you are not eating the right amount of healthy foods, you can lose the important vitamins and minerals from your diet that help with the production of hormones like estrogen and testosterone. These hormones are essential for maintaining healthy muscle tone, collagen production, and cell regeneration. This reduction in these hormones can cause changes in skin elasticity. 

The hassle of saggy skin after weight loss

The hassle of saggy skin after weight loss

Many people have the misconception that weight loss results in a younger, more attractive appearance. They spend hundreds of dollars on diets, exercise regimens, and surgery in hopes of shedding those pesky pounds and looking good. However, many people’s body changes do not turn out as expected after this strenuous lifestyle change.

One particular group of people that can fall, victim to this, are people who have lost weight through any avenue–other than surgery–and have shrunken skin. People who suffer from loose skin after weight loss may think the issue stems from muscle loss, but the body is actually holding onto weight for purposes beyond utility. 

Shedding pounds for the first time, your body will have to shrink down in order for you to fit into small-size clothes. This can cause loose and wrinkled skin around your stomach, hip, or thigh areas. It is possible for these areas to tighten up again after losing weight. Care to know how? Read on.

How to tighten loose skin after weight loss

How to tighten loose skin after weight loss

If you’ve ever struggled with loose skin after weight loss, you know how frustrating it can be. While surgery is a viable option, there are also other ways to tighten loose skin without having to go under the knife. Below are some ways through which loose skin can be tightened after weight loss:

Skin tightening cream

Skin Tightening Creams are scientifically proven to reduce the appearance of loose skin and wrinkles, which is why they are one of the most popular anti-ageing products on the market. After using these creams for a while, there will be a noticeable tightening effect throughout your body. They can be used on any part of your body and do not require you to have surgery or extract fat from other parts of your body. This is an amazing way to tighten loose skin after a weight loss of over 50.

Collagen supplements

The benefits of collagen are well-known. It’s a key player in healthy skin, hair, nails, joints, and bones. But what about all that loose skin left behind after you’ve lost weight? That’s where collagen comes in handy! Collagen supplementation has been shown to improve elasticity and help decrease the amount of excess tissue without the need for surgery or liposuction. If you are looking for how to tighten loose skin on your arms naturally or how to get rid of saggy belly skin, then collagen supplements are a great choice.

Skin Tightening treatment Endolift

Endo lift treatment 

This is a nonsurgical way to tighten loose skin after weight loss and a remedy for people looking for how to tighten skin on the stomach after weight loss.

Endolift treatment is a minimally invasive outpatient laser technique used in endo-tissue (interstitial) cosmetic medicine. This procedure pulls back and tightens the connective septum, which stimulates the generation of new collagen by the skin as well as the metabolic processes that take place within the skin cells. However, Endolift® is may also be utilized to decrease excessive fat when it is required, from both the face and the body. As a result, it is an effective way to tighten the skin on the legs after weight loss.

How long do body contouring results last?

Body Sculpting provides long-term results that last anywhere from five to ten years. It is a 30-minute process that reduces fat and tones areas such as the stomach, buttocks, calves, thighs, and arms. The results of body sculpting can be permanent due to its ability to destroy the fat cells that are preventing patients from achieving the best version of themselves and preventing them from regenerating. It can build muscle, which can increase metabolism and result in more calories burned.

What Are the Benefits of Body Sculpting?

Body Sculpting is a non-invasive technique that can consistently kill fat cells and build muscle. It is a non-surgical procedure that is safe, painless, requires no downtime, and has minimal side effects. Body sculpting is an effective fat reduction, muscle strengthening, and toning method that reshapes the body and eliminates extra skin. The results are natural looking and can be maintained with a healthy diet and exercise. It can target stubborn areas that are unsightly and resistant to diet and exercise.

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