Surgeries such as a tummy tuck or an arm lift are the fastest and sometimes only option to tighten loose skin, particularly after significant weight loss. Nevertheless, there are a number of risks and disadvantages to the procedure as well. Surgery should never be a substitute for a balanced workout routine, as results will only stay if you keep your skin and muscles toned with regular exercise.
1. Benefit: Fast Results
Counting on exercise alone to tighten loose skin means that you won’t begin to see results for weeks or even months. Non-invasive cosmetic treatments to tighten skin, such as bi-polar radio frequency, require as many as twelve to sixteen sessions spread out over six to eight weeks before you see ideal results. The results of a surgical procedure such as a thigh lift or a leg lift are virtually immediate, except that you will need to spend one to three weeks recovering.
2. Risk: Infection
A risk of any surgery is infection, but the risk can be especially great for surgery to tighten loose skin. This is because patches of your skin will be removed and the remaining skin stretched out and tightened, so the surgery is quite invasive. You may also be fitted with draining tubes during your first week of recovery, which will reduce the excess fluid in the affected area and keep the swelling to a minimum. If the tubes shift or you fail to follow instructions for care of the wound after surgery, your risk for infection will increase exponentially. You may have to remain virtually bedridden for a week after the surgery and then keep physical activity to a minimum for up to two weeks more to decrease your risk of infection.
3. Lasting Results (with Caveat)
Not only does surgery to tighten loose skin take much less time than alternative options, but the results are more permanent. Bi-polar radio frequency cosmetic treatment requires maintenance visits every six to eight weeks after your initial treatment because the production of collagen in the skin (which the treatment depends on for success) can start to wane. With surgery, you’ll no longer have the excess skin to tighten. The only caveat is that, like tightening skin via exercise, you must practice healthy eating habits and exercise regularly in order to keep your weight at a healthy level and to keep your skin from becoming excessively loose again.
4. Risk: Muscle, Skin or Nerve Damage
A fairly rare (especially if your cosmetic surgeon has a good reputation) but nonetheless very real risk of cosmetic surgery is temporary to permanent damage to the skin tissue, muscle and nerves. Because your surgeon will have to remove skin, which is attached to nerves, there’s a risk that you will have nerve damage during the procedure. The risk of this kind of damages is low, but may be enough to convince you to seek other options, particularly if your loose skin is minimal.