Losing weight to manage obesity can considerably decrease your chance of developing various diseases. However, it sometimes leads to loose skin.
This is a pretty common side effect of weight loss. In fact, up to 70 percent of those who undergo bariatric surgery may also experience it, according to a review published by PubMed Central and the National Center for Biotechnology Information.1https://healthmatch.io/weight-management/how-much-weight-loss-causes-loose-skin
You may dream of having a tighter, more toned figure while you work hard to shed a few pounds. But if you end up with saggy skin after a significant amount of weight loss, you’re bound to feel a tad upset and this might cause you to wonder whether there are any ways on how to avoid loose skin due to weight loss.
If you are wondering how to avoid loose skin due to weight loss, then you are in the right place, cause in this article, we will inform you about everything there is to know about how to avoid loose skin due to weight loss.
Even though this can be normal and not an indication of a concern, it can nonetheless be uncomfortable and make your skin appear older. So, how to avoid loose skin due to weight loss? Let’s find out.
Before Anything Else, What Causes This Loose Skin Due to Weight Loss?
Dr Rinky Kapoor, a Consultant Dermatologist, Cosmetic Dermatologist, and Dermato-Surgeon, in The Esthetic Clinics, was asked the reason why there is loose skin due to weight loss. Read on to see what he said.
Those who have undergone significant weight loss because of exercise or through bariatric surgery, often find the loose skin frustrating. Dr Kapoor says, “The amount of loose skin is not proportional to how much weight you lose but it is also affected by many factors such as your eating habits, genetics, smoking, and sun exposure.”
The good news is that some simple treatments can help prevent or treat loose skin. He adds, “Loose skin happens because of the loosening of collagen and elastic fibers.” This not only makes you look aged but the skin folds can also be a breeding ground for bacteria, causing infection and chafing.
Now, How Much Weight Loss Causes Loose Skin?
This usually varies from individual to individual. However, in most cases, small amounts of weight loss, such as 20 or fewer pounds, typically don't lead to the development of loose skin.
However, larger amounts of weight loss, such as 50 pounds and over, especially over a short period, can considerably increase your risk of loose skin. Your genetics and age will also play an important role in determining how much weight loss causes loose skin.
For example, some studies have suggested that those of Caucasian descent show earlier signs of skin aging and are more prone to skin sagging than other ethnicities, due to specific skin physiological mechanisms.
Factors that Contribute to Loose Skin and Skin Aging
Whether you will have loose skin or not after losing weight depends on several things. To avoid loose skin due to weight loss, being aware of the following factors that affect loose skin due to weight loss will help you;
Smoking leads to a reduction in collagen production and damages existing collagen. It may not necessarily cause loose skin after weight loss, but it contributes to sagging skin.
2. Excessive sun exposure
The more you’re exposed to the sun, the lower your collagen and elastin production levels, making your skin less elastic and looser after losing weight.
3. Length of time
The longer you have been obese or overweight, the looser your skin will be after losing weight.
Depending on the quality of your skin and other risk factors, losing 100 pounds or more can result in more loose skin.
When you age, dermal collagen fibrils undergo progressive loss and fragmentation, which leads to thin and structurally weakened skin.
As we grow older, our skin undergoes multiple changes, be it physical or hormonal. There are many different factors that affect the process and changes that our skin goes through.
Loose skin can appear anywhere on the body and face, but the most common areas are the neck, abdomen, and arms.
One of the major causes of loose skin is age. With growing age, our skin tends to lose collagen and elastin, the supportive connective tissue that makes it look firm, plump, and youthful. Facial muscles can weaken with age, eventually resulting in loose skin.
“Sun Exposure can affect the elasticity and collagen production of the skin too, but at a faster rate than aging. Sun damage caused by UVA/UVB radiation can affect the skin’s DNA and mutate it, leading to premature cellular death.
This breaks down collagen and elastin in the skin, leading to loosening up of skin,” explained celebrity dermatologist, Dr Ajay Rana.
He added that “Sudden weight loss can also affect the skin. Other factors include surgery and pregnancy. These can lead to the loss of volume in the skin due to the thinning of the fatty layer beneath the skin and stretching of ligaments.”
How Can You Avoid Loose Skin Due to Weight Loss?
Here is what you should do before, during, and after your weight loss journey to ensure your skin retracts as you lose weight:
1. Lose weight gradually
Although it may not always be an option, losing weight slowly is the best way to prevent loose skin.
According to Princeton University Health Services¹, dieting affects the skin because weight loss and weight gain both cause the skin to stretch and lose elasticity. As a result, skin becomes vulnerable to wrinkling and sagging under the forces of gravity.
Avoid extreme weight loss tactics, such as skipping meals, if you don't want your skin to sag. Instead, focus on substituting your diet with more nutritious food and smaller portions to lose weight gradually. You should lose two pounds per week, at most.
2. Lose weight by building muscle
Holly Wyatt, M.D., professor of medicine at the University of Colorado says that losing weight by building muscle makes your skin appear tauter. Your skin begins to sag because the space filled by fat is left empty.
To prevent this, replace it with muscle. Building muscle also benefits weight loss because it keeps burning calories long after you finish your fitness routine.
3. Eat a balanced diet
For your skin to regain its elasticity and retract as you lose weight, you should eat fruits and vegetables and foods rich in Vitamins A, C, and E on a regular basis.
4. Quit smoking
The elasticity of your skin is lowered by the chemicals in cigarettes. Nicotine also prevents nutrients from flowing to your skin. This results in premature wrinkles and dry skin, which do not shrink back down as you lose weight.
5. Stay hydrated
While losing weight, regularly drinking water correlates with a higher rate of weight loss. It fuels exercise and suppresses your appetite. Staying hydrated keeps the skin elastic and prevents having loose skin after weight loss.
6. Protect your skin
As you age, your skin loses its elasticity due to reduced elastin and collagen levels. If you haven't been taking care of your skin properly, losing weight could create loose skin that cannot shrink back.
To prevent this, take care of your skin by avoiding too much exposure to the sun. You can do this by planning your workouts (if you do them outdoors) either early in the morning or late in the evening.
When spending time in the sun, make sure to wear sunscreen. If you don't have to be in the sun, shield yourself in the shade to stop UV rays from destroying your collagen.
Still wanna learn more, you can watch the video below:
Further Tips To Avoid Loose Skin Due To Weight Loss
Building muscle mass through muscle strengthening and weight training exercises can help fill out the skin and decrease the appearance of loose skin. As a result, your skin will look firmer and better.
When it comes to diet to tighten your skin, it is important that you add collagen. It is found in bone broth, eggs, meat, fish, and spirulina. Dr. Kapoor says, “Including a protein-rich diet with plenty of water will also make your skin elastic and flexible and prevent dehydration.” You should also include vitamin C and E-rich foods to help improve collagen and skin health.
3. Non-invasive treatments
Non-invasive treatments such as the use of radiofrequency and infrared light deliver energy under the skin and cause the cells to contract to shrink and new collagen and elastin are formed. The result is firm and flexible skin.
4. Skin tightening surgery
These include a group of procedures such as the popular tummy tuck, arm lift, breast lift, facelift, and lower body lifts. The surgeon removes the excess skin and fat from the body and wraps the skin around to a smoother appearance. However, for this surgery, you need to have had a stable weight for the last six months and it should be more than two years since the weight loss surgery.2https://healthmatch.io/weight-management/how-to-avoid-loose-skin-after-weight-loss
5. Firming creams
This may not be a very effective solution but it can definitely make a difference. Firming creams help to improve the appearance of the skin by boosting collagen production and elastin molecules. Always choose one that contains anti-aging ingredients such as collagen and retinoids. Use them daily and maintain a healthy skincare routine.
Dr Rinky Kapoor, a Consultant Dermatologist, Cosmetic Dermatologist, and Dermato-Surgeon, in The Esthetic Clinics, suggests the above ways as the best ways to overcome this skin issue due to weight loss.
Dr Kapoor says, “Apart from the cosmetic factors, maintaining a healthy weight also brings with it many health benefits such as good heart and metabolism and glowing skin. There is only one side effect of losing weight and that is loose and dull skin.”
9 Natural Foods (Majorly Food Ingredients) Recommended on How to Avoid Loose Skin Due to Weight Loss
1. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is a staple ingredient in many kitchens and can also be used to tighten the skin! Coconut oil is a powerful antioxidant that works to eliminate free radicals that can damage the skin. It also hydrates and moisturizes the skin, which prevents sagging.
2. Olive Oil
Olive oil is the most simple yet effective remedy to lock moisture into the skin and keep it glowing. It is rich in antioxidants and vitamin E that tighten the skin and prevent photodamage.
Honey helps in hydrating dry skin, fighting the action of free radicals, and keeping the skin clean due to its antifungal and antibacterial properties, and reducing redness with its anti-inflammatory properties. These benefits can help delay the sagging of skin, making it smoother and younger.
Coffee can be used at night to tighten the skin and delay the signs of aging. It has a high content of antioxidants that slow the process of skin aging. When it is used as a scrub, it exfoliates the skin.
5. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera gel is one of the best home remedies that can be used for skin tightening. It has malic acid which improves the elasticity of the skin.
Cucumber is considered to be the best natural skin toner. It can tighten loose and saggy skin without causing any side effects or allergic reactions. In addition, it can refresh and rejuvenate tired skin.
Egg white contains albumin protein, making it a great remedy for sagging skin. It improves the skin texture by rebuilding the cells of the skin.
Yogurt makes the skin smooth and helps to tighten wrinkled skin. It contains lactic acid. When yogurt is applied to the skin, the lactic acid present in it works to shrink the pores, resulting in tighter and smoother skin.
“Vitamin C present in lemon boosts the production of collagen and helps to restore elasticity to the skin. It has astringent properties that work as a wrinkle-reducing and skin-tightening remedy,” says Dr Rana.
And here are 4 all-natural face masks that you can prepare at home to avoid loose skin due to weight loss at your face
- Banana Face Mask
Add a few drops of lemon juice to the mashed banana. Apply this on the face and neck. Leave this pack on the face for about 15 minutes and then wash it off with water. You can use this pack twice a week.
- Coffee Face Mask
Mix ¼ cup of ground coffee, 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, ¼ cup of brown sugar, and ½ teaspoon of cinnamon till all these ingredients form a paste. Use this paste to gently scrub the face and neck area. Scrub your face for about 5 minutes and rinse it off with lukewarm water.
- Egg and Honey Face Mask
Mix 1 egg white with 2 teaspoons of honey to make a paste. Apply this paste to your face and neck. Wait for 15 minutes till it dries off and then rinse it off with lukewarm water. This face mask can give you a protein and vitamin boost. Apply this mask on your face at least 2 times a week.
- Aloe Vera Face Mask
Take 1 tablespoon of aloe vera gel and add 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise and 1 tablespoon of honey to it. Make a thick paste and apply the mask to the face, neck, and chest. Let it dry for 15 minutes. After that, rinse it off with lukewarm water.
So, use ingredients right in your kitchen to keep your skin tight!
How Can You Tighten Loose Skin Due to Weight Loss?
Before you start tightening your skin, you first need to identify whether you really have loose skin or just a thin layer of fat. To find out, pinch your skin.
If there are more than a few millimeters of skin, it is subcutaneous fat making your skin appear loose. Once you lose the subcutaneous fat, you might not even need to tighten your skin.
If that is not the case, here is what you can do to tighten your skin after losing weight:
1. Eat well
For your skin to bounce back, there are two components it needs: collagen and elastin. These components can be increased by ensuring you eat a diet full of Vitamins A, C, and E. Some of these foods include:
- Vitamin A: Cheese, eggs, oily fish, milk and yogurt, fortified low-fat spreads, etc.
- Vitamin C: Broccoli, brussels sprouts, potatoes, oranges, strawberries, etc.
- Vitamin E: Vegetable oils such as sunflower or olive oil, almonds, peanuts, margarine, fruit juices, spinach, etc.
2. Lifestyle changes
Certain habits such as smoking make your skin appear more saggy and loose.
3. Hydrate and moisturize
Just as staying hydrated is important for your weight loss journey, it’s just as crucial in keeping your skin elastic and tight.
According to a study, increasing your daily intake of water improves your skin's hydration and function. That means not only will your skin become more elastic, but it will also look better.
You should be hydrated not just on the inside, but also on the outside by moisturizing. Apart from enhancing the benefits of drinking water, moisturizing also reduces stretch marks.
A good moisturizer that has natural oils such as olive oil or collagen will keep your skin elastic and healthy.
If your skin is stretched for a long time, it may be difficult or take longer to retract back and fit your slimmer body. To reduce your skin’s saggy appearance, you can fill up the space by building muscles.
Exercises such as facial exercises, weight lifting, and resistance training will increase your muscle mass and make your skin tighter. Even if you exercise for only half an hour daily, you can build muscle and have tighter skin.
5. Non-surgical procedures
There are a number of non-surgical procedures that tighten your skin and improve its appearance, including:
- Intense pulsed light/radiofrequency combination treatments
- Ultrasound skin tightening
- Ablative laser resurfacing
- Chemical peels
These procedures are dubbed non-invasive because they don't leave an incision, puncture wound, or raw skin afterward. You may notice some temporary swelling and redness, but that's often the only sign that you’ve had a skin-tightening procedure.
6. Surgical procedures
If the other techniques do not provide you with the results you desire, you can speak to your doctor to find out if surgery is an option. Surgeries to remove excess skin and fat are called body-contouring surgeries.
The procedures involve cutting and removing excess fat and skin on specific areas. They include:
- Tummy tuck
- Thigh lift
- Body lift
- Breast lift
It is important to choose a surgeon wisely when undergoing any of the above surgical procedures to ensure you get the results you want with no adverse side effects.
How to Improve Loose Skin After Weight Loss
Losing a lot of weight can result in more loose skin than simple lifestyle changes can handle. However, by using some methods at home and with a health professional, you'll be able to make some improvements to your skin quality and overall look.
While they won't completely erase your loose skin, they can be great options to incorporate into your daily routine;
Maintain your weight loss, tone up, and build healthy muscle mass with regular exercise and strength training activities. Building new muscles can help fill out some minimal sagging skin caused by fat loss. Replacing fat mass with lean muscles can improve your health and make you look and feel better.
2. Compression clothing and other therapeutic techniques
If your loose skin is not significant, but still causing friction or irritability, wearing compression clothing can help. Compression tops, stockings, and shorts can hold loose skin firmly and minimize rubbing, itching, and irritation from skin-to-skin contact.
While compression clothing doesn't reduce loose skin, it can help ease side effects. Other non-surgical therapeutic options include topical creams that help lift, tone, and tighten skin, and microneedling, which involves the slight puncturing of the skin, aiding collagen deposition and overall skin tightening.
3. Body contouring surgery
If your loose skin is excessive or affecting your quality of life, body contouring surgery can be performed by a surgeon. This surgery involves the removal of excess skin from the body; the surgeon will also help shape the remaining tissue to give it a smooth appearance.
Body contouring surgeries vary in price and procedure type, so check with your doctor if you're looking to book a consultation. Surgery types include a tummy tuck, lower body lift, arm lift, buttocks lift, or breast lift.3https://www.healthshots.com/how-to/saggy-skin-due-to-weight-loss-try-these-5-tips/
Body contouring surgery will not stop the skin from sagging again if you gain or lose weight again. Moreover, it is usually performed in phases and may take months or even years to complete. This type of surgery also carries many risks and potential complications and therefore, it is better to exhaust all your other options before considering this solution.
Can Loose Skin Due To Weight Loss Go Away On Its Own?
Not quite. If your skin is slightly loose following moderate weight loss, it will retract by itself. For weight losses of over 100 pounds, you will need to undergo medical procedures to tighten it up. However, how loose your skin is will depend on a number of factors, as discussed above.
If you do away with all the risk factors before you start your weight loss journey, lose weight slowly, and take all the necessary steps and procedures during and after your journey, your skin will be able to retract shortly after you reach your weight goal. You might even avoid having loose skin altogether.
A Word Of Advice
Loose skin is a common side effect of significant weight loss. While there are ways to reduce your risk of developing loose skin, loose skin is normal and usually won't cause any irritability.
For some, though, loose skin can affect their quality of life. The health of their skin can be improved with natural "at-home" options or via surgical interventions.
Unfortunately, you can’t avoid loose skin because it’s a part of growing old. But, you can press pause on this process by taking care of your skin.
Many of us look for medical treatments for skin tightening but forget that they can cause harm and dependence in the long run. That’s why finding a natural solution for skin tightening is the best way to deal with it!
Frequently Asked Questions on How to Avoid Loose Skin Due to Weight Loss