You may have loose skin if you have lost a large amount of weight. You are not alone, as loose or saggy skin is a common problem after losing a large amount of weight (100 pounds or more) quickly. In time, you may see improvements in your skin’s elasticity, but some people may require surgery to remove excess skin.
What Influences Your Skin’s Elasticity
No two people have the same skin, and an identical amount of weight loss will look different on different people. Several factors determine how your skin will react to weight loss:
- Age: As you get older, your skin becomes less elastic.
- Amount of weight lost: Weight loss of 100 pounds or more typically results in more hanging skin.
- Genetics: Genes influence how much firmness your skin retains. Some people are just more susceptible to sagging skin than others.
- How long you’ve been overweight: If you’re overweight for a more extended period, your skin may not be able to contract when you lose weight.
- How quickly you lose weight: When you lose weight quickly, such as with weight loss surgery, your skin’s elasticity doesn’t have time to catch up. The result is loose skin.
- Nutrition and water intake: Your skin may not be as healthy or firm if you aren’t getting balanced nutrition, vitamins, and minerals (especially vitamins C and E) and staying hydrated.
- Smoking: Smoking can speed up the normal aging process of your skin.
- Sun exposure: Your past, present, and future exposure to the sun can damage your skin.
How to Avoid Loose Skin
While you won’t be able to completely prevent loose skin if you’re losing significant amounts of weight, there are some ways to help avoid as much sagging as possible.
Lose Weight Slowly
Losing weight slowly is the best way to avoid excessive sagging. Most experts recommend aiming for 1 to 2 pounds a week, which translates to 4 to 8 pounds per month. This will help you lose more fat than muscle and allow your skin to adjust as you lose weight.
Focus on Nutrition
Getting adequate macronutrients and micronutrients is essential to maintaining your skin’s health and elasticity. Skin-nourishing foods contain unsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids; vitamins A, C, and E; selenium; zinc; copper; polyphenols; and carotenoids.
Working toward improving your fitness is a worthy goal, but it can also benefit the skin. For example, one study suggests that exercisers are more likely to have moist skin. Some studies have investigated whether exercise can boost collagen production, but more research is needed. Exercise does increase blood flow, which is beneficial for the skin.
How to Tighten Loose Skin
Because we’re all different, people will respond differently after losing weight. Some people may bounce back quickly, while others may consider body contouring surgery to remove extra skin. Body contouring is an expensive and serious procedure requiring a long recovery time.
Plastic surgery experts recommend waiting at least a year after weight loss to allow your weight to stabilize before considering body contouring plastic surgery.
You may be able to make a difference with other options, such as exercise and a healthy diet. A basic cardio and strength training program can help you reduce body fat while building muscle. When you add muscle, you can improve how the skin looks and may be able to reduce some sagging.
A Word From Verywell
People who lose moderate weight at a measured pace usually see their skin return to a normal appearance. However, those who lose more than 100 pounds or lose weight quickly may be frustrated that they are left with loose skin after their efforts. There are ways to maximize your skin’s elasticity through nutrition, and building and maintaining fitness will help the skin’s appearance. Ask a healthcare professional for advice if you are concerned about loose skin.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does loose skin after weight loss go away?
Some loose skin could go away after a small or moderate weight loss. When you lose a larger amount of weight, especially if you lose weight quickly, loose skin may stick around. It is important to know there are options you can discuss with a healthcare provider.
How does resistance training impact loose skin?
Resistance training does not tighten up loose skin, but rather increases muscle mass. Increasing muscle mass can help fill the void left by excess fat, making the skin appear less loose. This is especially true with muscles of the arms, legs, back, and shoulders. It is less likely to make a difference on abdominal skin, although increasing core strength will benefit your body all around.
Are there exercises that can target loose skin?
Skin cannot be spot-tightened through exercise. However, exercise can help build muscle, which may help reduce the appearance of loose skin. In addition, some studies suggest exercise in general can lead to beneficial changes in the skin.
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