How to tighten loose skin while losing weight? For many, losing weight is a big problem. Those who are most persistent and committed to achieving that goal will surely succeed. However, what is rarely talked about after losing a large amount of excess weight is the excess skin that remains on the body, primarily on the chest and abdomen. This saggy skin is very difficult to remove completely. So let’s have an honest discussion about the wiggly, jiggly, loose skin we all dread after weight loss.
The skin is the most elastic organ of the human body. Different parts of the skin are made up of different cells. For example, while the epidermis (outer layer of the skin) is constantly worn out and renewed with new skin, the parts of the skin under the epidermis are much more permanent and harder to regenerate. The layers of the skin, known as the dermis and subdermis, are made of elastic tissues, fibers, blood vessels, and other components that can be stretched and shortened, depending on their quality and the needs of the underlying tissues.
When we talk about obesity, the elasticity of the skin depends significantly on the length of time a person was obese. Namely, it is much less likely that the skin will recede (tighten again) in people who have been obese all their lives, than in cases where someone has gained significant weight in a short period of time.
What causes excess skin after weight loss and the exact extent of this unwanted side effect?
As in everything, genetics play an important role here. The structure and texture of the skin are mostly determined by genetics. This means that we still need some luck. Don’t let this depress you, genetics is only one of the causative factors and does not have to be decisive.
Damage to collagen and elastin fibers
When the skin is significantly stretched and remains so for a long time, collagen and elastin fibers are damaged. As a result, they lose some of their ability to retract.
The greater the amount of weight (body fat) that needs to be lost, the greater the likelihood of remaining excess skin. A weight loss of up to 10 kg will not result in excess skin in most cases, while a weight loss of more than 20 kg probably will. It is difficult to determine the exact weight of remaining excess skin because it depends on the quality of the skin, length of obesity, age, lifestyle, and many other factors.
The time a person has spent in a state of obesity
During the expansion of the skin over a long period of time, the elastin and collagen fibers in the middle layer of the skin are damaged. This inevitably results in sagging skin. However, we can influence the prevention of this. The solution is to become aware of extra pounds as soon as possible and start shedding them without delay.
With aging, the amount of collagen and elastin in the skin decreases. The skin loses its elasticity and firmness and is more susceptible to “hanging”. Therefore, losing weight in old age will result in more excess skin than losing weight in younger people.
The solution lies in oral supplementation. Let’s start taking collagen already in our 20s. The amount of collagen decreases by as much as 1.5% per year from the age of 25, which strongly affects the quality of the skin and its ability to recover due to greater weight loss.
Did you know that as much as 80% of the sun’s harmful rays pass through clouds and reach your skin? In order for the skin to remain healthy and naturally beautiful, insert a cream with a protective factor in your daily routine, especially during the summer months. This way, you will prevent sunburn, and premature aging of the skin and maintain a beautiful appearance. UVA rays damage the middle layers of the skin, which leads to the destruction of elastin and collagen.
We all know how important vitamin C is in the synthesis of collagen, which is responsible for the health of the cardiovascular system and the elasticity, shine, and firmness of the skin. Smoker’s skin is of reduced quality, it ages rapidly, becomes dry, has reduced elasticity, lacks shine, pales, and takes on a characteristic gray-yellow color. Also, its ability to tighten in the process of losing weight is far impaired.
Did you know that level of vitamin C in smokers is 60% lower than in non-smokers, which makes smokers more prone to cardiovascular diseases, respiratory infections, and premature aging? We recommend a daily intake of 1000 mg to 2000 mg of vitamin C available in tablets, oral granules, or effervescent tablets.
What are the best tips for preventing and relieving excess skin?
Try to lose weight slowly
All fast diets (in which a lot of weight is lost in a very short period of time) inevitably lead to the loss of both fat and muscle tissue at the same time. The result is a large amount of loose skin that has lost the supporting muscle structure that holds the skin on the body as well as the body fat that stretches the skin.
Healthy weight loss is 0.5-1 kg per week or 3-4 kg per month. That way your skin can adapt to this fat tissue melting. You can also more successfully preserve the loss of your muscles.
Drink enough fluids
Water is a key component in maintaining skin elasticity. The average person should consume at least 2 liters of fluid per day (from fluids and food).
Increase muscle mass (prioritize weight training over cardio)
Building muscle mass is a very good way to tighten accumulated excess skin after losing a lot of weight. Namely, there are two types of tissue under the skin: fat and muscle, and both have the same task of keeping the skin taut and preventing it from sagging.
When you gain extra pounds, the skin has to stretch significantly to accommodate the increase in body volume. When you lose excess weight, especially when it happens very quickly, the skin probably won’t shrink at the same rate as you lose the weight. This imbalance leads to excess skin, especially in places where the most fat tissue has been lost.
Building muscle mass is the solution because increasing muscle tissue “fills in” the gaps where fat tissue used to be, resulting in a tighter, fuller, and healthier look. This advice is recommended to those who have already lost large amounts of excess weight, but also to those who are just starting a diet with the goal of melting excess fat tissue. Namely, the goal is always to melt fat tissue but preserve muscle. Use cardio in moderation only.
Maintaining good capillary circulation
Good capillary circulation can be stimulated with regular massages.
Undergoing surgical treatment
If the above methods do not result in the desired outcome, talk to your doctor about the surgical removal of excess skin. Most often, people decide to lift and remove excess skin on the upper arms, thighs, abdomen, and breasts. Depending on the amount of weight lost, the person’s age, the length of time he or she has been obese, and the quality of the person’s skin, plastic surgery to remove excess skin might be recommended. This is particularly true if there are skin irritations or infections resulting from overhanging folds of skin, such as the pannus, the “apron” of skin that folds over the abdomen after weight loss.
In many cases, this is also the only option that can give the desired result. This, like any other operation, carries with it a multitude of possible side effects. Therefore, choose your surgeon carefully to avoid possible complications and be satisfied with the results.
Improving skin elasticity
If your skin loses its elasticity (ability to expand and contract according to needs) it cannot, after losing extra pounds, return to its proper state. This occurs naturally with the aging of the skin, but in cases of losing a large amount of excess weight, it is present in all age groups. However, there are lifestyle habits that affect skin elasticity. Therefore it is possible to improve it by following these tips:
#1 Take fish oil
Among the many health benefits of fish oil is an improvement in skin elasticity. Improvements in skin elasticity are significant and are visible after 3 months of regular intake of fish oil. High-quality fish oil is one of the best food supplements, so definitely consider buying a high-quality oil, not only for skin health but also for all its other benefits.
#2 Stop smoking
If you haven’t had a reason to quit smoking before, now is the right time! A study conducted by scientists from the International Association of Ecologic Dermatology, during which they analyzed the skin of smokers, showed that smokers have an average of 9 years older skin than their biological age.
#3 Eat enough protein
Scientists have confirmed the correlation between protein intake and skin youth and health. A low-protein diet is associated with poorer skin quality and more frequent skin problems and diseases than a high-protein diet. This is especially visible during dieting: a high-protein diet reduces wrinkles, dry skin, and skin damage in the form of freckles, and other atrophies.
As you probably already know, proteins are found in meat, eggs, real Greek yogurt, fish, dairy products, black beans, seeds, broccoli, and, of course, protein drinks. Protein shakes are very practical and recommended for anyone who engages in physical activity.
#4 Eat fruits and vegetables
The body needs a wide range of vitamins and minerals to maintain the millions of biological processes that keep us alive and healthy. Eating a sufficient amount of fruits and vegetables every day is the only sure way to supply the body with all the necessary micronutrients.
When talking about the peculiarities of the skin, a number of studies have shown that regular intake of fruits and vegetables has a significant positive effect on the health and youthfulness of the skin.
Closing thought about tightening loose skin while losing weight
The speed and the method of losing weight are key to preventing sagging skin. Since the tightening and stretching of the skin is a long-term process, the speed of weight loss largely depends on whether the skin will adapt to the “new” body in sync.
If we choose to lose weight with a low-calorie diet and engage in excessive cardiovascular training, in which the majority of muscles are lost, it will certainly result in the appearance of excess skin. On the other hand, losing weight with a healthy diet and regular weight training (cardio in moderation) will prevent or greatly alleviate the appearance of excess skin. Muscles are what will make sure that your body is firm and fit, and it is precisely the muscles that have to fill part of the space that was meant for fat.
If the weight loss is moderate, the skin will in most cases recede on its own. However, for a weight loss of more than 40 kg, surgical intervention to remove the excess and tighten the skin is usually required.