How Can I Get Rid of Excess Skin After Massive Weight Loss?
You probably feel amazing after losing such a significant amount of weight. Congratulations! Weight loss leads to increased activity levels, better overall health, a fresh outlook on life, and everybody’s favorite...a new wardrobe! A common, and very normal problem that surfaces for many people after losing a massive amount of weight is excess or saggy skin. Although our skin is pretty amazing, and it’s elasticity is pretty remarkable (think of stretching and contracting for women during and after pregnancies), there are factors to consider if you have excess skin now that the weight is gone.
Things to Consider
If you have experienced massive weight loss rapidly, your skin simply doesn’t have the time or ability to shrink at the same rate your body shrinks. If you were overweight for a long period of time, your skin may be permanently stretched. Remember that each person’s journey is different, and we all respond differently during weight loss. Here are a few options you can consider now that the weight is off and it's time to focus on that saggy skin.
- Exercise and Diet. Continue doing what you’ve done to lose the weight, but now focus on cardio and strength training to build that muscle while continuing to reduce your body fat. Maintaining or adding muscle mass is what tightens skin, thus improving the appearance of your skin and reducing the sagging you are experiencing. When you work hard to lose more body fat while building muscle, you may be surprisingly happy with your skin as it tightens and firms from muscle development.
- Non-surgical Approaches. If you are one of the many people who choose to not have your excess skin surgically removed, there are still options available to you to improve your self-image, comfortability, and activity level. Wearing compression garments for exercise and normal daily wear creates leaner lines along the abdomen, hips, and thighs. These garments may help you look and feel more confident in your new body at work, the gym, or out on the town.
- Body-Contouring Surgery. You may consider a surgical option to get rid of your excess skin after your weight loss. If your weight loss is the result of bariatric surgery, surgeons usually recommend a wait of 12-18 months after your weight-loss surgery before having surgery for your loose skin. Your body is going through significant changes those 12-18 months after bariatric surgery, and adding another procedure to tighten skin that soon isn’t effective or safe. Skin tightening surgeries include abdominoplasty (tummy tuck), brachioplasty (arm lift), medial thigh lift (inner and outer thigh skin removal), upper-body lift (skin removal from breasts and back), and lower-body lift (skin removal from belly, buttocks, hips and thighs). Discuss procedural options with your physician to find out which path is the best for you as you continue on your weight-loss journey.