Excess skin, a common side effect of weight loss, can be embarrassing and lower your self-esteem. If you’ve already lost the weight and wonder what you can do about your excess skin, or you have a lot of weight to lose and fear the problem will plague you, what–if anything, can be done about it?
What Causes Excess Skin?
Excess skin is most common in people who have lost a great deal of weight. Not everyone experiences this and that’s partly what makes it so tricky–there are no definitive methods for preventing it. Although it is more common in older people with skin that has become less elastic, a young person can also encounter this difficulty.
Though hanging folds of skin appear to be just that, there could actually be deposits of fatty tissue beneath the layer of skin that weren’t burned away during dieting. Even though you’ve lost most of your excess weight, you could still have a high body mass index (BMI). This can only be determined by a professional. Extreme weight loss nearly always results in the loss of some lean body mass. The result is the appearance of excess skin. Another cause could be losing weight too quickly or drastic dieting.
You’re Planning to Lose Weight
Whether you’re scheduled for bariatric surgery or have made up your mind that it’s time to change your lifestyle, take some time to consider the long-term effects. If you have to lose 75 or more pounds, it’s a good idea to work with a doctor so you can achieve safe and optimal results.
Avoiding the Problem
You’ve seen your doctor and you’re ready to embark on a new lifestyle. There are things you can do to prevent excess skin as you lose the weight. Regular exercise, including resistance training, will help you burn fat and build lean muscle mass which supports the skin. As exciting as it might seem to have a new body within a few months, it is safer to lose the weight slowly. That gives your skin time to adjust. Drink plenty of water and keep your skin lubricated. Follow a healthy, balanced diet and restrict sugar and empty calorie starchy foods.
Dealing with Excess Skin
Do you have loose or flabby skin? There’s a difference. Loose skin can be surgically removed, but flabby skin has trapped fatty deposits, which cannot be surgically altered without more dieting or liposuction. Before you take drastic steps there are a few things you can try. If you’ve just lost the weight, give your skin time. It just might tighten up on its own.
Reducing your body mass index (BMI) might address some of the problem. Continue eating healthy and keep up–or start–your cardio and strength training. Make sure to get adequate protein and limit junk food. The trick is to get your body composition within a normal range.
If your attempts at reducing excess skin non-surgically have not netted the results you want, then your next step might be to consider surgery.