How Do I Get Rid of Loose Skin after Weight Loss?

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If you have been successful in losing a large amount of weight, you may have loose skin. You are not alone as loose or saggy skin is a common problem after losing a large amount of weight (100 pounds or more) in a short period of time. In time, you may see improvements in your skin's elasticity, but some people may require surgery to remove excess skin.1

What Influences Your Skin's Elasticity

Factors that influence skin loosening during weight loss include the following:

  • Age: As you get older, your skin becomes less elastic.2
  • Amount of weight you lost: Weight loss of 100 pounds or more typically results in a greater amount of hanging skin.
  • Genetics: Genes influence how much firmness your skin retains as you get older. Some people are just more susceptible to sagging skin than others.
  • How long you've been overweight: If you're overweight for a long period of time you're skin may not be able to fully contract back into its smaller shape down when you lose weight.
  • How quickly you lose weight: When you lose too much weight too fast, such as with weight loss surgery, your skin's elasticity doesn't have time to catch up. The result is loose skin.3
  • Nutrition and water intake: Your skin may not be as healthy or firm if you aren't getting balanced nutrition, vitamins, and minerals (especially vitamins C and E) and staying hydrated.4
  • SmokingSmoking can speed up the normal aging process of your skin.
  • Sun exposure: Your past, present, and future exposure to the sun can damage your skin.

How to Avoid Loose Skin

While you won't be able to completely prevent loose skin if you're losing large amounts of weight, losing weight slowly is the best way to avoid excessive sagging.

Most experts recommend aiming for 1 to 2 pounds a week, which translates to 4 to 8 pounds per month. This will help you lose more fat than muscle and will allow your skin to adjust as you lose weight.

How to Tighten Loose Skin

Because we're all different, each person will have a different response after losing weight. Some people may bounce back quickly while others may consider body contouring surgery to get rid of extra skin. Body contouring is an expensive and serious procedure requiring a long recovery time.

Plastic surgery experts recommend waiting at least a year after weight loss to allow your weight to stabilize before considering body contouring plastic surgery.

You may be able to make a difference with other options, such as exercise and a healthy diet. A basic cardio and strength training program can help you reduce body fat while building muscle. When you add muscle, you can improve how the skin looks and may be able to reduce some sagging.

By Paige Waehner, CPT
Paige Waehner is a certified personal trainer, author of the "Guide to Become a Personal Trainer," and co-author of "The Buzz on Exercise & Fitness."