Bariatric surgery is amazing: it helps you lose a substantial amount of excess weight in a short period of time, and it will help you keep it off. Sadly, no surgery is risk-free, and one of the side effects of rapid weight loss (due to bariatric surgery or not) is loose skin. There’s a silver lining, though: taking some precautions will help reduce the chances of getting sagging skin, and even if you did, there are skin removal surgeries that can help remove excess skin and tighten it.
What Determines How Much Excess Skin You’ll Get Post Weight Loss?
To understand excess skin after losing weight, how to minimize it, and how to get rid of it, you must first understand what factors influence the patient getting loose skin in the first place:
- The genetic factor: like everything else about our body, a competent of excess skin is genetic. This is undeniable. Some people get stretch marks easier than others, and some people’s skin sags easier than others. There’s nothing you can do about it.
- The age factor: everyone has seen how people’s skin sags as people grow older. People who have firm, young-looking skin when they’re in their 30s will start experiencing sagging in their skin by the time they turn 50. The same principle fundamentally governs the appearance of excess skin after bariatric surgery. This means the likelihood of loose skin after you lose weight is determined by your age.
- The time factor: skin is elastic, and it can adapt to the underlying body structure, but it takes time. When you lose a huge amount of fat in a short period of time, however, you remove the underlying structure too quickly for the skin to adapt. This results in loose skin. So, an essential component of whether you’ll experience sagging skin after bariatric surgery or not is how quickly you’ll lose it.
- The weight factor: the more you weigh, the more your skin will need to contract after the weight loss surgery. And your skin’s capacity to adapt is limited, and it can be stretched beyond a point that it can’t possibly contract on its own. In these cases, you’ll definitely get loose skin after bariatric surgery.
What Can You Do to Prevent Sagging Skin?
Although there’s no method that can guarantee the prevention of sagging skin completely 100% of the time (as you can’t control your starting weight, your age, and your genetics), there are some steps you can take that can substantially reduce your chances of having loose skin after weight loss.
- Make sure you eat properly: as every supermodel will tell you, your diet has a large impact on your skin, and yes, this extends to stretch marks and skin elasticity. That’s why not only do you need to make sure that you have a balanced diet (within permitted foods by your doctor, of course), but you need to make sure you take multivitamins in the months following the surgery, as well.
- Use ointments/medicine: there are specific medicaments and ointments that can help improve the texture of your skin and prevent excess skin from forming. Although their success is limited, so you should keep your expectations grounded. Regardless, it pays to ask your doctor about it and have it handy before you undergo bariatric surgery.
How Can You Deal with Excess Skin after Bariatric Surgery?
What if the prevention methods didn’t work and you were left with excess skin? What can you do now? Well, there are some steps you can take to reduce loose skin:
- Wait: after significant weight loss, it is only natural if you are left with some excess skin. Our bodies are very robust, and they can adjust to new conditions remarkably well, and this includes our skin. That’s why you should wait for a few months before you do anything. It is possible that your skin will slowly and naturally tighten over time.
- Body lift: if waiting doesn’t help, however, you need to artificially tighten your skin. The primary way to do that is with the help of a plastic surgeon undergoing a body lift. A body lift involves skin excision and the removal of most of the excess skin. After the surgery, most of the excess skin will be gone.
- Abdominoplasty: since excess skin in the abdomen is the most common post-bariatric surgery, you can undergo a plastic surgery called ‘tummy tuck‘ that will remove the excess skin from your abdomen. This procedure is popular even with people who’ve lost weight naturally and not through bariatric surgery.