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Solutions to Prevent, Minimize, or Manage Excess Skin After Losing Weight
If you have a lot of weight to lose, you may be concerned about having loose skin once you reach your goal. Weight loss reality shows and plastic surgery makeover shows often show this loose skin after a significant weight loss. Learn why this happens and your options for avoiding or treating this problem.
Why You Get Excess Skin After Weight Loss
If you lose a considerable amount of weight, you may have loose or excess skin once you have reached a normal, healthy weight. The degree to which you may experience this depends on a few factors.
The elasticity of your skin before and during the weight loss process determines how much—if any—loose skin you will have. Younger skin that is more elastic is able to snap back more effectively to its original shape. Older skin is less elastic and may not shrink back as well.
Your chance of having excess skin is significantly affected by how much weight you have to lose and how quickly you lose it. When you lose weight quickly, your skin may not shrink as fast as you'd like. Most people who lose 100 pounds or more will have an issue with excess or hanging skin when they reach their goal weight.
How long you have been overweight or obese can also affect your skin's ability to rebound from being stretched out. The less time you have spent overweight, the more likely it is that your skin will return to normal.
Where Does Loose Skin Occur?
The excess skin is usually abdominal skin that reaches down well past the belly area. Loose skin after weight loss can happen in other areas as well. Some dieters experience saggy skin in the arms and around the bra line. Some even get loose skin in the thigh and buttocks area.
Prevention of Loose Skin During Weight Loss
A slow and steady weight loss one or two pounds a week is the ideal rate and will help save your skin's elasticity. The quicker you lose your weight, the more likely you are to have a problem with excess skin. In addition to slow and steady weight loss, you can also build muscle to shape the tissue underneath sagging skin.
How to Manage Loose Skin After Weight Loss
If you notice loose skin, and especially if you are getting chafing or find the movement of loose skin annoying during activity, you may want to wear compression garments. These are widely available for both men and women for sports as well smoothing your shape under clothing.
If excess skin is causing chafing that leads to skin infections, you may need to consider surgery. You might also want to have a procedure performed simply to improve the appearance of your body after weight loss.
There are different types of surgery available. Some patients consider a body lift, a cosmetic surgery procedure that lifts and tightens skin at various locations on the body. Another procedure is called an abdominoplasty or "tummy tuck." This surgical method lifts and tightens just the stomach area. Some plastic surgeons can also perform a thigh lift for loose skin in the lower body.
These procedures are serious operations and, like other surgeries, pose a risk of complications. Insurance rarely covers these types of procedures.
A Word From Verywell
While you may be concerned about loose skin, if you are overweight or obese you will improve your health by losing weight. If you have loose skin after weight loss, talk to your doctor about skin tightening surgeries and methods that can improve both the function and the look of your body.