Different types of cells can be found in different layers of your skin. Though the skin cells on the surface of your skin (the epidermis) are continually shed and replaced, the skin cells beneath the epidermis are more permanent. The dermis and sub-dermis of the skin are made up of elastic connective tissues, fibers, blood vessels, and other components that may stretch or contract depending on how they have been treated.
When you lose weight, especially quickly, these elastic portions of your skin lose not just the layers of fat that maintain them spread out throughout your body, but they also might not have much time to acclimate to your new body frame.
If you’ve recently lost a lot of weight, you may have observed that you have some loose skin clinging around. Extra skin following weight reduction is most commonly found beneath the arms, under the chin, or in a pouch around the stomach. However, loose skin may occur nearly everywhere on the body, especially if you’ve lost a lot of weight quickly.
Before we continue, let’s take a look at the human body from the outside in. First, there’s your skin, which serves as a protective barrier and is the biggest organ in the integumentary (external layer or covering) system—imagine it as the wrapper that protects your body. Then there’s a layer of bodily fat. Your muscles are located beneath that. When you lose a significant quantity of body fat combined with some muscle (as is usual with rapid weight reduction), you are physically eliminating the bulk that has previously stretched your skin.
Loose skin can be aggravating and have a negative influence on one’s self-esteem. While there are several methods to get loose skin, once you have it, it can be tough to get rid of.
Some causes for loose skin includes:
- Weight loss
- The effects of aging
Loose skin is most commonly found in the following areas:
While cosmetic surgery can help resolve loose skin, there are lots of choices for those who choose to forgo medical operations.
Among these alternatives are:
- Firming products
- Nonsurgical procedures
- Weight loss
It’s typical to experience loose skin after weight loss, especially in the arms, belly, chest, buttocks, and thighs. This might be physically painful, such as if it tugs at you or rubs against other people’s skin, but it can also influence you psychologically, altering the way you interact with the environment.
What factors contribute to loose skin after losing weight?
Your skin is an extremely flexible organ that must stretch as you move and grow. If you lose fat and muscle, it must also shrink. But your skin is more than simply a sheet of rubber that covers your entire body—an organ. It is comprised of cells, much like the rest of your body’s organs.
Though the skin cells on the surface of your skin (the epidermis) are continually shed and replaced, the skin cells beneath the epidermis are more permanent.
Different types of cells can be found in different layers of your skin. Though the skin cells on the surface of your skin (the epidermis) are continually shed and replaced, the skin cells beneath the epidermis are more permanent. The dermis and sub-dermis of the skin are made up of elastic connective tissues, fibers, blood vessels, and other components that may stretch or contract relying on how they’re treated.
When you drop weight, especially quickly, these elastic components of your skin lose not just the layers of fat that maintain them spread out throughout your body, but they also don’t have much time to adapt to your new body shape.
Is it loose skin or just stubborn fat?
In general, the bulk of loose skin immediately following weight reduction is actually just extra subcutaneous body fat covered by skin. So, even if you’ve reached your “target weight,” you may still have some body fat lingering around.
Subcutaneous fat is sometimes known as “soft fat,” and it is readily mistaken with ordinary skin. Because this sort of fat is so tenacious, it might take a long time to vanish after you’ve lost weight. And, in case you’re wondering, “stubborn fat” is a genuine thing!
Our adipose tissue (body fat) is densely packed with alpha-2 and beta-2 receptors. The A-2 and B-2 receptors interact with catecholamine (adrenaline and noradrenaline) to release stored body fat. Without getting too technical, B-2 receptors are linked to “easy fat,” or fat that we can lose quickly. A-2 receptors are linked to “stubborn fat,” which can be difficult to shed. The fat surrounding our stomach, in example, has a famously low b-2: a-2 ratio, which is one cause why the “spare tire” is frequently the last region of the body to lean up.
If the region of loose skin you’re focusing on is thicker than a few millimeters, it’s a solid indication that it’s truly leftover body fat.
Well here’s a trial: if the patch of loose skin you’re focusing on is thicker than a few millimeters, it’s a solid indication that it’s truly leftover body fat. This implies that if you maintain your new weight-loss lifestyle, your skin will continue to shrink and tighten. The look of slack skin will fade with time. However, if the skin you pinch is really thin (like the back of your hand), or if you’ve been suffering with loose skin for a long period with little or no improvement, this may not be the case. You are most likely dealing with loose skin rather than obstinate fat.
Can you avoid having loose skin after losing weight?
Before we get into how you might assist your body deal with loose skin more effectively, let’s discuss about how you can avoiding this problem in the first place.
Crash diets and extreme exercise can cause fast loss of muscle and fat, resulting in a double whammy for your skin. That is, the supporting underlying muscle structure that supports the skin against your body, as well as the fat that keeps the skin stretched taut, is gone.
Any weight reduction that exceeds 2-3 pounds per month is most likely lean muscle, not fat.
Most weight reduction regimens, especially those that profess to be gradual, aim for a weekly fat loss of 1-2 pounds. Most people, however, can only shed 2-3 pounds of body fat each month. Any weight reduction that exceeds the 2-3 pounds per month mark is likely to be lean muscle, rather than fat. Researchers discovered in a 2008 study that tiny, cumulative adjustments in food and activity resulted in sluggish but persistent weight loss. This method of gradual, consistent weight loss also avoids problems such as loose skin.
Along with losing weight gradually, keep in mind your weight reduction regimen incorporates some sort of resistance exercise (or, dare I say, weight lifting) to avoid losing lean muscle. If you’re not sure where to begin with resistance training, I have a lot of articles in the Get-Fit Guy archives that can help.
Is it necessary to be concerned about loose skin?
I believe this is an essential topic to consider: Is loose skin truly worth worrying about?
If your loose skin is giving you pain or discomfort, especially if you are chafing while exercising, you should consider using compression clothing. Exercisers who carry more weight are more prone to repetitive-use injuries such as strains, shin splints, sprains, and other joint problems. However, just wearing compression clothing can help compress loose skin against the skeleton and reduce the number of small tissue rips generated by skin vibration and oscillation.
Don’t allow the stigma of having excess skin prevent you from enjoying your best life.
But, if your loose skin isn’t giving you discomfort or damage, don’t allow the stigma of having loose skin keep you from enjoying your best life.
“Don’t you dare keep your potential hostage because you’re afraid of what someone might say or think,” one lady cited in the story stated.
When I first started looking into this issue, there were around 562 million search results for “loose skin.” That simple fact informs me that the problem is more widespread than we realize! Yes, if considerable weight reduction is or was your aim, you may have loose skin. But I think it would be a shame to dwell on your loose skin instead of all the good you’ve done for your health.
The being said, even if you’re not ready to be as daring as the folks in that SELF article, there are certain things you can do to assist your skin.
Factors that contribute to skin elasticity loss:
Several causes lead to loose skin after weight reduction, including:
The length of time: The longer somebody has been overweight or obese, the looser their skin will be after losing weight owing to elastin and collagen loss.
Average amount of weight lost: Weight loss of 100 pounds (46 kg) or more is associated with more loose skin than weight reduction of less than 100 pounds (46 kg).
Age: Older skin has less collagen than younger skin and is prone to sagging after weight reduction.
Genetics: Your genes may influence how your skin reacts to weight growth and decrease.
Exposure to the sun: Chronic sun exposure has been found to decrease the synthesis of collagen and elastin in the skin, which may contribute to loose skin
Smoking: Smoking reduces collagen synthesis and damages existing collagen, resulting in drooping, loose skin.
Excessive loose skin causes problems:
For some people, having a lot of loose skin after losing a lot of weight might create physical and mental problems:
Physical annoyance: Excess skin can be bothersome and may interfere with regular functioning. One long-term investigation discovered a potential rise in self-consciousness after losing weight.
Decreased physical activity: While one research discovered that losing weight encouraged more people to exercise, another discovered that extra skin interfered with activity in some people following bariatric surgery.
Irritation and skin breakdown: According to one research, 44 percent of 124 patients who sought plastic surgery to tighten skin following weight reduction surgery suffered skin discomfort, ulcers, or infections as a result of the loose skin.
Poor body image issues: Loose skin caused by weight reduction can have a detrimental impact on body image and mood.
Natural skin tightening treatments
The natural treatments listed below may help to enhance skin firmness and suppleness in persons who have lost modest to moderate amounts of weight.
Perform resistance training:
Regular strength training is one of the most effective strategies for both young and old individuals to gain muscle growth.
While no study is presently available, an increase in muscle mass may assist improve the look of loose skin.
Gelatin and collagen hydro lysate are extremely similar. It’s a refined version of the collagen present in animal connective tissue.
Although it has not been studied in persons with loose skin as a result of significant weight loss, research show that collagen hydro lysate may have a protective impact on the skin’s collagen.
Skin elasticity, smoothness, and moisture improved considerably after 12 weeks of using a liquid collagen supplement, according to a controlled research. Vitamins C and E, as well as biotin and zinc, were also present in the drink.
Hydrolyzed collagen is another name for collagen hydro lysate. It is available as a powder and may be obtained at natural food stores or online.
Bone broth is another common source of collagen, and it also has additional health advantages.
Take Certain Nutrients and Stay hydrated:
Certain nutrients are necessary for the synthesis of collagen and other components of healthy skin, including:
Protein: Protein is essential for healthy skin. Lysine and proline are amino acids that have a direct role in collagen synthesis.
Vitamin C. Vitamin C is essential for collagen production and also protects the skin from UV damage.
Omega-3 fatty acids: Fatty fish include omega-3 fatty acids, which may help improve skin suppleness and offer anti-aging properties.
Water: Staying hydrated may help to enhance the look of your skin. According to one study, women who increased their regular water intake had substantial increases in skin hydration and function.
Take care of your hydration requirements. Water is essential for keeping skin suppleness. Keep in mind that hydration comes from both food and drink.
Your skin is composed of cells. Skin cells, like all other cells in your body, are composed of water. This massive organ will almost definitely not operate properly if it is not supplied with water. If your skin does not receive enough water, it will lose strength and flexibility.
Collagen and elastin are two essential components that maintain skin lush and supple. Consume plenty of protein-rich meals. Cottage cheese, milk, lentils, tofu, beans, seeds, almonds, and fish all include collagen and elastin-forming components, as well as oils that aid in the maintenance of good skin.
Taking care of skin:
Nourish and caring for your skin. Exfoliation on a daily basis might assist to eliminate dead skin cells and improve skin circulation. A hot bath with salts and minerals can help to enhance skin tone. Skin tightening creams including herbal formulations and substances such as aloe Vera, hyaluronic acid, yeast extract, soy protein, vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin A can help hydrate the skin and promote collagen and elastin production.
You may also take care of your skin by doing the following:
- Avoiding the use of harsh detergents (like soaps, shampoos, and dishwashing liquids with sulfates)
- Avoiding tanning beds and limiting your sun exposure
- Smoking cessation and avoidance of secondhand smoke
- Limiting your exposure to hot, chlorinated water.
Increase mass of your body’s muscle:
As previously said, skin becomes loose after losing weight since the fat that was sustaining the skin is actually gone. You’re left with an empty wrapper now that the bulk has vanished. So, why not restock that wrapper with some muscular mass?
Certain hypertrophic (muscle-building) actions, particularly in the regions around loose skin, might create the impression of tighter skin. You aren’t truly decreasing the skin, but you are giving it the impression of tightness by replacing that empty area with muscle, which is a healthier and more metabolically efficient (it burns calories) tissue.
Use firming creams:
Collagen and elastin are common ingredients in “firming” creams.
Although topical treatments may temporarily improve skin tightness, the molecules of collagen and elastin are too big to be absorbed by your skin. In general, collagen must be produced from within the body.
Retinoid are vitamin A chemical compounds that include:
- Retinoic acid (RA)
According to Wells, they promote skin cell proliferation, maturation, and turnover.
She also recommends using lotions containing hyaluronic acid, which attracts and retains water molecules. Hyaluronic acid is beneficial:
- Wrinkles should be reduced in depth
- Improve skin firmness
- Reduce skin roughness
Wells advises avoiding lanolin-containing skincare products owing to the constant rise in the risk of contact dermatitis (allergic skin response) linked with it.
Exercise and weight lifting:
Building muscle mass through weight training activities can help reduce the look of loose skin, particularly if the loose skin is the result of weight loss.
If extra fat has been distending the skin for a long period, the skin’s ability to shrink with weight reduction may be compromised. Replacing lost fat with muscle mass can help to reduce the look of loose skin.
Consult a doctor before exercising if you have loose skin from a recent pregnancy since there may be specific exercises you should avoid.
Facial exercise is one type of exercise that has not been shown to be beneficial for loose skin. While facial exercises have been widely known since the 1960s, there is little evidence that they actually help tighten loose skin.
Resistance training offers several benefits, including boosting total-body functional strength, increasing bone density, and improving mental health by lowering symptoms of anxiety, sadness, and tiredness. When it comes to its effect on loose skin, researchers believes that including it into your daily regimen helps enhance lean muscle mass, which makes the skin appear firmer.
Researchers propose that individuals speak with a personal trainer or other professional who can assist you in developing a strategy that is tailored to your own body and goals. Working out with loose skin, on the other hand, is perfectly safe.
According to research published in the journal Obesity Surgery, while loose skin may not be visually attractive, it should not prohibit people from participating in physical exercise. If you’re concerned about loose skin when exercising, you should try wearing compression clothing.
Medical treatments to tighten loose skin
Medical or surgical procedures are more intrusive alternatives for tightening loose skin following significant weight reduction:
People that have lost a substantial amount of weight through bariatric surgery or other techniques frequently want surgery to remove extra skin.
A surgeon performs body-contouring surgery by making a big incision and removing extra skin and fat. To reduce scarring, they suture the wound using tiny stitches.
Body-contouring procedures include:
Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck): excision of abdominal skin
Lower-body lift: skin removal from the belly, buttocks, hips, and thighs
Upper-body lift: skin removal from the breasts and back
Medial thigh lift: The removal of skin from the inner and outer thighs is known as a medial thigh lift.
Brachioplasty (arm lift): is the surgical excision of skin from the upper arms.
Following substantial weight reduction, many operations on various body regions are generally performed over a period of 1 to 2 years.
Body-contouring procedures often necessitate a one- to four-day hospital stay. The average recovery time at home is 2 to 4 weeks. Complications from the procedure, including as bleeding and infections, are also possible.
Following considerable weight reduction, body-contouring surgery may enhance quality of life. However, one research found that some patients who underwent the surgery had lower quality of life scores.
There are several nonsurgical treatments that can assist with loose skin.
These processes are as follows:
The removal of the outer layer of old skin on the face and neck can help to reduce the look of loose, sagging, or wrinkled skin. When the old skin peels away, the skin beneath is generally smoother and less wrinkled.
Resurfacing with a low-level laser:
This treatment is sometimes referred to as “laser peeling.” It’s comparable to a chemical peel in that it eliminates the top layer of dead skin. The laser heats the layers underneath the top layer as well. This heat stimulates the synthesis of collagen.
Skin tightening using ultrasound:
Heat is used in this treatment to promote collagen synthesis. Ultrasound energy is focused and passed through the skin’s surface to heat deeper layers.
Treatments using radiofrequency:
Another type of safe energy transmission that warms the skin to stimulate collagen synthesis. The outer layer of the skin is the focus of this approach.
Combination IPL/RF treatments:
These procedures combine intense pulsed light (IPL) and radiofrequency energy (RF). The procedure warms the skin’s outer and deeper layers in order to stimulate collagen synthesis.
Botox is another name for this therapy. Botulinum toxin, which is known to relax wrinkles, is injected into the skin. While this isn’t the most holistic technique, it has a short recovery period and minimizes the look of loose skin when injected in regions where muscles move against each other.
All these are instances of nonsurgical, minimally invasive methods for decreasing loose skin. There are additional procedures available to remove excess skin.
Body contouring is known as tuck or lift surgery. They entail making an incision and removing excess fat and skin. These procedures generally necessitate a hospital stay followed by recuperation at home.
If alternative loose-skin tightening procedures do not produce the desired results, you may choose to visit with a doctor to see whether body-contouring is the best option for you.
Your skin’s flexibility will gradually decline as you get older. Instead of being concerned about your age, concentrate on the things you can control. These include being active, getting enough sleep, and reducing your stress levels. If you can accomplish that, you’ll notice that you always look and feel wonderful.
Excessive loose skin is usual after a significant weight loss. If the loose skin concerns you, you can seek therapy.
Your skin will most likely retract on its own if you lose a little too moderate amount of weight. Natural home treatments may also be beneficial.
Significant weight reduction, on the other hand, may necessitate body-contouring surgery or other medical treatments to tighten or remove loose skin.
Even if you can tighten loose skin without surgery, it doesn’t mean you should. Every operation has some amount of risk, so it’s critical to assess your personal health and if these risks are heightened for you.
Non-surgical skin tightening often entails the use of therapies meant to firm the skin. In certain situations, this is accomplished by stimulating the synthesis of collagen or elastin. Collagen firms the skin, and elastin keeps it taut. Other treatments smooth the skin by breaking down the fibrous tissue that causes cellulite.
Surgery, on the other hand, entails removing extra skin caused by weight reduction. There are several surgical skin removal methods available. A panniculectomy, for example, is the removal of the skin “apron” that hangs below the belly button, or an upper or lower body lift might be performed.