Losing weight for health reasons is a great decision, and can massively improve your health. But for many people, it's also about improving how they feel about the way their body looks too. If you have a lot of excess weight, or if you lose it very quickly, you may experience some loose skin.
This can be off-putting for people who want to be more confident about how their body looks. But let's take a look at what can be done to minimise loose skin.
Why Does the Skin Get Loose?
The skin consists of proteins, including collagen and elastin. Collagen is responsible for 80% of your skin's structure and gives your skin firmness and strength. Elastin helps your skin to stay tight. Unlike in pregnancy, where the skin is stretched for 9 months and returns to its normal after a few weeks of giving birth, most overweight people have been overweight for years, sometimes for decades. So it can take longer for the skin to return to normal after weight loss because the collagen and elastin fibres become damaged and lose their ability to retract, making the skin hanging loose.
There are a few factors which influence whether skin will become loose. If someone has been overweight for a long time, this is a significant factor. The more weight lost, the more loose skin you might expect. It is especially true for weight loss over 100lbs. Older skin has less collagen than younger skin, so the age at which you lose weight makes a difference too. Genetics also play a part in the elasticity of your skin. Long term sun exposure can cause your skin becoming less elastic, and smoking damages collagen so this can contribute to loose skin.
How to Tackle Loose Skin?
There are some natural remedies for loose skin in people who have had a small to moderate amount of weight loss. Suppose you have lost a significant amount of weight. In that case, medical intervention may be required if you want to get rid of it completely.
However, it's worth taking your time with such a decision and giving your body enough time to heal, recover and work its amazing magic before going under the knife. Not to mention, you may realise how proud you are of your achievement and don't want to remove the reminders of it. Before committing to surgery, I would highly recommend mastering the below areas of your life and being patient. You never know, your body might just find the way to deal with it.
Weightlifting can help, as resistance training can improve the appearance of loose skin by building muscles underneath. If you put on lean muscle mass, that will fill some of the space your fat loss success left under your skin.
Consuming a nutrient-dense diet, and drinking enough water will help the skin to repair itself. Prioritising protein, which includes the amino acids lysine and proline, which play a direct role in collagen production.
Vitamin C helps collagen to synthesis and protects the skin from the sun. A small study suggested Omega 3 supplementation or an increase in fatty fish in the diet could help too.
Topical collagen creams may give a temporary rise in tightness. However, collagen and elastin molecules are too large to be absorbed through your skin. So these creams aren't able to provide a long term solution. Instead, focus on providing your body with everything to support the production of collagen and elastin.
The most effective methods for removing loose skin are medical interventions. "Velashape" is a combined system using infrared light, radiofrequency and massage to reduce loose skin. Ultrasounds have been used to alleviate the pain and other symptoms following bariatric surgery, otherwise known as gastric bands. Still, there was no impact on the skin itself.
The most effective treatment is "body contouring" where a surgical incision is made, and excess skin is removed. The incision is sutured with fine stitches to minimise scarring, and there may be several surgeries over many years following weight loss.
Each surgery may require a hospital stay of one to four days and home recovery of two to four weeks. As with any surgery, the risk of infection or other complication is present, and the decision should be carefully considered.
Making the right decision for you will be based on how much weight you've lost, how long you were overweight for, your age and your personal feelings towards the loose skin.
People who have lost moderate amounts of weight will likely see their skin regain its elasticity with time. This can be supported with a nutrient-dense diet which includes proper hydration and resistance training.
Women who have lost a lot of weight may require medical interventions to remove uncomfortable excess skin if it's impacting their quality of life. However, just having excess skin poses no health risks at all, unlike morbid obesity which poses significant health risks.
Are you considering starting your fitness and weight loss journey and need guidance on how to do it the safest and most efficient way? Feel free to reach out for a commitment-free chat!
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