Who would have thought the prize you get after losing weight is a bunch of loose skin? People are usually happy after they have lost weight, and they have every reason to feel this way, as losing weight is not an easy task. Commonly though, when people lose a significant amount of weight, they are likely to be left with some measure of loose skin (5). You can probably find search terms like ‘how to tighten skin after weight loss naturally’ and ‘how to avoid loose skin after weight loss’ on top of their google searches. In this article, we will tackle these queries as well as others which are associated with having loose skin after some weight loss.
Loose skin sometimes affects a person’s appearance, self-esteem, and overall quality of life. Skin is the largest organ in a person’s body. It helps keep one from getting sick by creating a barrier from environmental threats. It is also responsible for regulating your body’s temperature as well as being essential in the production of vitamin D, which is an important nutrient in one’s body. Skin also helps keep the bones, muscles, and internal body organs from being damaged.
The Anatomy Of Human Skin
Skin is made of many different layers, and each layer contains different cells. The innermost layer of the skin consists of two very important proteins known as collagen and elastin. They both play important roles when it comes to keeping the skin healthy and as it should be. Collagen is responsible for providing the skin with its firmness and strength. Elastin, on the other hand, is used to provide your skin with its elasticity and helps keep your skin tight, firm, and in place.
When you start gaining weight, your skin will expand so that it will be able to make enough space for the enlarged body parts. When you remain overweight for a long time, as is mostly the case with obese people, this damages the collagen and elastin of your skin. The skin has a definite point of elasticity. If you push your skin past this point while gaining weight, you will reduce its ability to come back to how it was previously. This is due to the fact that the collagen and elastin have been damaged. This results in the skin lacking firmness and strength due to damaged collagen and lack of elasticity due to elastin damage. When you are finally able to lose weight, you could experience some loose skin due to the change in your skin’s condition.
The More Weight You Lose, The Less Likely It Is For Your Skin To Go Back Into Place
Thus, it is correct to say that the longer you stay overweight, the lower the chances of your skin going back into place, in the event of weight loss. In addition to that, the amount of weight you also lose matters. If you lose a lot of weight, you could definitely have a lot of skin hanging around. Thus, it is also correct to say that the more weight you lose, the less likely it is for your skin to go back into place. When it comes to weight and causing loose skin, it is not only about the amount of weight you lose, but also how fast you lose this weight. If you lose weight rapidly, you are likely to end up with a lot of loose skin. This could happen because you did not give your skin enough time to adapt to your body’s new changes.
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Factors That Increase The Risk Of Loose Skin
1. The Amount Of Time You’ve Been Overweight
If you’ve been overweight for a long period of time, the chances of you having loose skin once you lose weight are very high. The likelihood of this happening is due to the fact that the skin will have been stretched for such a long time that it loses its elasticity. This prevents it from going back to how it was before you lost weight.
2. The Amount Of Weight You’ve Lost
This comes down to the more weight you lose, the more loose skin you are likely to have. One is likely to have loose skin from losing a lot of weight at one time compared to losing a small amount of weight in the same amount of time.
3. How Old You Are
The older you are, the higher your chances of having loose skin. The older you grow, the less collagen your skin has. Younger people have more collagen in their skin, compared to older people. For this reason, older people are more likely to have loose skin as compared to younger people.
This is something we can’t change. Genetic will determine how your skin will respond to weight loss. Some genes will promote tighter skin, while others will do the opposite. If the latter is the case, you don’t have to worry as there are still things you can do to avoid loose skin after weight loss.
5. Sun Exposition
The sun is said to reduce the production of collagen and elastin. Collagen is responsible for making the skin firm and strong, while elastin is responsible for providing the skin with its elasticity, as we saw earlier. Reducing the production of these two skin components will likely result in a fair amount of loose skin.
6. How Quickly You Lose Weight
Another thing that might increase your chances of having loose skin is how fast you lose your weight. The faster you lose your weight, the higher your chances of having loose skin. This is due to the fact that when you lose weight rapidly, you are not giving your skin enough time to react to the new changes in your body and thus results in loose skin. That is why losing weight slowly is one of the ways to avoid loose skin after weight loss.
If there weren’t enough reasons for you to quit smoking already, here is another reason. Smoking is known to cause certain cancers, cause problems with one’s reproductive system as well as their respiratory system. Smoking is also known to cause loose skin (10). It destroys your skin’s elasticity and general appearance. This helps promote your chances of having loose skin after weight loss since your skin could not be able to go back to its normal position.
How To Avoid Loose Skin After Weight Loss
Since now you know what is likely to cause hanging skin once you lose weight, it is also important to know what you can do to avoid loose skin caused by weight loss. One of the things you can do to avoid this is by losing weight slowly (7). Slow weight loss is less likely to cause loose skin. Slow, sustainable weight loss is a weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week. When you lose weight at this rate, it gives your body a good chance to adapt to the changes happening in one’s body. This ensures your skin shrinks back to its new size and thus leaving no loose skin.
Loose Skin And Smoking
Another thing you can do to avoid loose skin is to avoid smoking, and if you already smoke, you should stop smoking. A study was done to observe if quitting smoking rejuvenates the skin (12). The study was done on 64 women who had been smoking. The study took 9 months, and observations were made after every 3 months. The idea behind the study was to determine how quitting smoking would affect one’s skin. They measured the women’ skin smoothness, brightness, colouring, and elasticity.
When the study began, they had calculated each participant’s skin age and found that their skins were, at average, 9 years older than their chronological age. After quitting smoking, their skin was found to be 13 years younger than their chronological age. This shows when you stop smoking, you have positive effects on your skin. There was increased smoothness, brightness, colouring, and elasticity, which are all important when it comes to preventing the existence of loose skin.
Another way you can prevent loose skin is by making sure you drink a lot of water (3). A person should drink eight glasses of water in a day or 2 litres of water in a day. Hydration helps keep the skin elastic and hence prevent loose skin.
How To Tighten Skin After Weight Loss
Let’s say you tried the methods highlighted above on how to avoid loose skin after weight loss, and they did not work, or you did not try them, and now you have excess skin. Although this is not what you wanted, it is here, and you have to deal with the situation. Below are certain ways one can use to tighten loose skin after weight loss.
Most of you are now confused; you are thinking that you are now left with this problem due to weight loss, and you don’t see how losing more weight will be a remedy for this. To see how this can work, you first need to determine if what you have is loose skin or just stubborn fat that is usually hard to get rid of. If it is stubborn fat, losing weight could help you deal with this situation. How do you know if it is loose skin or stubborn fat?
Subcutaneous fat is what we are referring to as stubborn fat. It gets that name from the fact that it is very hard for it to disappear even after weight loss. To know if it is fat or loose skin, go to one of the areas you have this loose skin and pinch it. It is fat if you pinch it and find it to be more than a few millimetres thick. If it is thin, then it is loose skin (3). If you find out it is fat and not loose skin as you thought, then your work at the gym and your eating habits could still be adjusted to help you reach your goals. Look for healthy ways to lose that fat in a sustainable manner. This could help get rid of the stubborn fat and help prevent loose skin after you’ve lost that fat.
This is yet another natural way to deal with loose skin. It is highly effective, especially if your excess skin came from weight loss. When you were overweight, your skin was excessively stretched. Now that you’ve lost weight, most of the fat mass that was making the skin look tight has been reduced, and there is nothing to hold the skin. This remedy does not look to reduce the size of the loose skin but to make it less visible. When you gain muscle mass, it grows in size and uses the space that the fat mass was occupying before. This makes your body look more toned, and the loose skin will be less visible as now there is something giving form to it.
There are several ways one can gain muscles (7). First, you need to increase your consumption of proteins and then you need to join a strength training workout program. Before you make any adjustments to your diet or join a new workout program, you should first consult a dietitian If your loose skin is not from weight loss, you should also consult an expert before you do anything to deal with the loose skin.
Science keeps bringing us new things. Who could have thought there are creams you can use to deal with your loose skin problem? There are numerous creams and lotions that claim being useful for this. If you go to your local pharmacy, you will find different varieties to choose from. Be careful about labelling claims which are often marketing strategies. People mostly use filling creams on problematic areas. The thighs, tummy, on your arms and others are good examples of problematic areas that may require firming creams.
When choosing a cream to use, go for one that contains retinoids. This is a chemical derived from vitamin A. It helps increase the maturation, proliferation and turnover of skin cells (11). It would help if you also went for creams that contain hyaluronic acid. This acid attracts and holds onto water molecules. This, in turn, helps reduce the depth of your wrinkles, helps increase the firmness of your skin and also helps promote smooth skin (11). These are some of the creams you should look into. When going out to buy a cream, make sure the product you get has been proven to work, and if you are not sure about it, you can always consult an expert.
Before we can go any further, supplements should be taken with care. It is important to talk to a dietitian that you can take to help with loose skin. Most people would go for supplements that contain collagen, and elastin as they are the main proteins associated with skin firmness, strength and elasticity. You can also go for supplements that contain vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, gelatin and other nutrients that are known to help with skin health (9).
As highlighted earlier, smoking ruins your skin health and helps promote loose skin (10). If you are trying to deal with loose skin, but you continue smoking, you might reduce your chances of reaching your goal. Smoking ruins the elasticity of the skin, which prevents it from going back to place once you lose weight (9). It would be best if you stopped smoking so that you can deal with the excess skin you have.
A balanced diet is very important to our bodies. It helps provide the body with all the required nutrients. When it comes to dealing with loose skin, you need to eat nourishing foods to improve your skin health.
If you are dealing with loose skin, you need to eat a lot of proteins. Proteins are essential when it comes to keeping your skin moist, free from wrinkles and elastic (9). If you don’t eat enough protein, you could increase your chances of having dry, wrinkled and weak skin. In addition to that, proteins help in the building of muscles. One way of dealing with loose skin is by gaining muscle mass, and proteins help with that.
Vegetables and fruits are also important in your fight against hanging skin (9). Fruits and vegetables are very healthy because they contain very many different nutrients. Consuming fruits and veggies helps provide vitamins and minerals that help keep your skin strong.
You should include foods that are rich in collagen and elastin to your diet. Milk, legumes, cottage cheese, beans, nuts and fish are examples of foods that contain elastin and collagen. They help with skin firmness, strength and elasticity.
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Being Cautious Of Overexposure To The Sun
The sun helps in the manufacture of vitamin D, which is a very important vitamin in our bodies. Although the production of vitamin D is good, too much exposure to the sun may cause damage to one’s skin. Just after weight loss, when your skin is still loose, exposing it to harmful UV rays is not the way to go. This can cause premature wrinkle formation and may also cause the skin to lose its elasticity (2). Protect yourself from the sun and if you’re sun-basking use at least SPF 50 sun cream.
Get A Massage
We all love massages, and this is one of those two for one deals where you get to feel nice while still dealing with your problem. Massages help prevent the aging of the skin and improve blood flow (8). A study on the effects of a skin-massaging device on the ex-vivo expression of human dermis proteins and in-vivo facial wrinkles was done (4). The participants of this study were to get two massages every day for one minute. The study took ten days. The results showed that the massages helped stimulate an anti-aging response on the skin. This shows that massages could will help in your fight against hanging skin.
Apart from these methods highlighted above, people can also use medical methods like surgery to deal with loose skin. It goes without saying that this method is quite expensive, and one should always consider natural ways to deal with loose skin when possible.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 6 ways to tighten loose skin (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
- 11 Best Ways to Tighten Loose Skin After Weight Loss (n.d., powerofpositivity.com)
- Can You Tighten Loose Skin After Weight Loss? (2020, quickanddirtytips.com)
- Effects of a skin-massaging device on the ex-vivo expression of human dermis proteins and in-vivo facial wrinkles (2017, journals.plos.org)
- Here’s How to Tighten Loose Skin After Weight Loss, According to Doctors (2020, menshealth.com)
- How to Tighten Loose Skin After Losing Weight (2016, healthline.com)
- How to Tighten Loose Skin Naturally After Weight Loss (n.d., powerofpositivity.com)
- How To Tighten Skin After Weight Loss (2019, stylecraze.com)
- The 5-Step Solution to Loose Skin After Weight Loss (n.d., legionathletics.com)
- The reasons why smoking is bad for you (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Tips for How to Tighten Loose Skin (2020, healthline.com)
- “Quitting smoking rejuvenates the skin”: results of a pilot project on smoking cessation conducted in Milan, Italy (2010, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)