Losing weight can be a life-changing experience for many people, improving their heart health, blood pressure, back pain, and confidence.
Even losing a few pounds can improve a person’s self-esteem, let alone when losing large amounts of at a time. But sudden or dramatic weight loss can also come with an unwanted side effect in the form of loose skin.
Loose and sagging skin after weight loss can be a frustrating experience, as it can leave a person feeling “trapped” with the excess skin versus seeing a slimmer and more toned appearance they were hoping for, especially in places like the abdomen.
But can loose skin be reversed, and what about weight loss causes loose skin to begin with?
Can Loose Skin Be Reversed
In minor cases of stretched skin, the skin may gradually tighten back over time and can be assisted and partially prevented by lotioning the skin and staying amply hydrated when going through changes such as weight fluctuation and pregnancy. However, the majority of stretched-out skin is permanent and requires a procedure such as a tummy tuck.
The ideal tummy tuck candidate is someone who has concerns about loose skin on their abdomen and wishes for its removal through cosmetic surgery. Discreet incisions are made along the hipbones during a tummy tuck, and the skin is tightened with the excess removed. If excess skin exists elsewhere on the body, this procedure can be performed alongside removal procedures such as arm lifts, neck lifts, breast lifts, and more.
Causes of Loose Skin
Loose skin is caused when the skin is stretched out by a rapid bodily change, such as pregnancy or weight gain, where the elasticity of the skin cannot keep up. When this bodily change is reverted by losing weight or having a baby, the stretched skin is unable to form back to the body.
Slow, gradual weight loss does not usually result in loose skin, except in extreme cases, which is one of the reasons many doctors recommend losing no more than 2 pounds a week. This sentiment is especially true of those that are older, as collagen begins to reduce production more and more every year after roughly the age of 20.
Collagen is what helps the skin maintain its elasticity and firmness, so the older a person is, the more susceptible they are to acquiring loose skin after weight loss.
The Challenges with Loose Skin After Weight Loss
In most cases, loose skin after weight loss is a purely cosmetic issue, posing no threat to the body but to self-esteem. It can be an embarrassing or frustrating experience to have this appearance of loose skin after working so hard to lose weight. For areas such as the stomach or upper arms, loose skin can also pose comfort issues with the fit of clothing like shirt sleeves.
In more extreme cases, loose skin can pose problems such as chafing issues and inflammation caused by the friction of the loose skin folds rubbing together for an extended period of time.