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 causes loose skin after weight loss?
The human skin, our body’s largest organ, plays a vital role as a protective barrier against environmental factors. It’s a complex structure with several layers, and two key proteins, collagen and elastin, reside in its innermost layer.
Collagen: This protein accounts for 80% of your skin’s structure, providing it with firmness and strength.
Elastin: On the other hand, elastin is responsible for the skin’s elasticity, helping it maintain its tightness.
When individuals experience weight gain, their skin accommodates the extra growth by expanding. Pregnancy is a prime example of this natural expansion, happening over the course of several months. Usually, after childbirth, the skin retracts, regaining its original form over a few months.
However, a different scenario unfolds when the skin is stretched significantly and remains in that state for an extended period. This prolonged stretching can lead to damage in the collagen and elastin fibers. Consequently, they lose some of their ability to retract, resulting in loose skin.
When someone undergoes a substantial weight loss, excess skin can hang from the body. Typically, the more significant the weight loss, the more noticeable the effect of loose skin.
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 it is not possible to completely prevent loose skin after weight loss surgery, there are several steps you can take to minimize its occurrence. Here are some strategies to consider:
Maintain Proper Hydration
Adequate hydration is essential for maintaining healthy skin. Keeping your skin moisturized and supple promotes elasticity, allowing for easier rebound after weight loss.
Follow a Balanced Diet
Consuming a well-rounded diet that is rich in vitamins can significantly reduce the occurrence of loose skin after weight loss surgery. Incorporate foods like avocados and salmon that contain healthy fats, as they can be beneficial for your skin.
Engage in Regular Exercise
Regular physical activity is highly recommended. Exercise helps build muscle, which aids in the skin’s adjustment to weight loss, making the process less drastic. Additionally, well-toned muscles can help conceal any sagging that may occur.
Consider Vitamins for Skin Elasticity
Certain vitamins, such as vitamin C and vitamin E, have been found to promote skin elasticity and contribute to a more youthful appearance. Consult with your healthcare provider about incorporating these vitamins into your diet or using supplements.
Collagen and elastin are essential components for maintaining skin elasticity. Using firming creams that contain collagen and elastin can provide a slight tightening effect and help you achieve the desired appearance for your skin.
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.
What to Look Out for Regarding Excess Skin Problems After Weight Loss Surgery
Experiencing excess skin is a common occurrence following weight loss surgery. Here are some issues related to excess skin that you should be aware of:
Excess skin can cause physical discomfort due to friction in areas like the thighs, groin, underarms, and stomach. Skin folds create a warm and moist environment that increases the risk of yeast or bacterial infections, leading to painful irritation, especially during physical activity.
Loose or sagging skin can be distressing, affecting both appearance and overall well-being. Some individuals may feel uneasy about the way their excess skin looks and how it impacts their functionality.
In certain cases, excess skin can give rise to painful or debilitating health problems. When a significant amount of weight is lost, the skin lacks the ability to contract and return to its pre-weight gain state, causing chronic stretching and potential health issues.
Ways To Tighten The Loose Skin After Weight Loss Surgery
Loose or saggy skin can be uncomfortable after weight loss surgery, but there are various methods available to tighten the skin. These methods include natural remedies, lifestyle adjustments, and medical procedures. Here are some tips:
Engage in Resistance Training: Resistance training helps enhance muscle mass and boosts calorie burning. This can contribute to a smoother transition of the skin after weight loss.
Consume Specific Nutrients: Nutrients like collagen and proper hydration can aid in tightening the skin. Incorporate foods rich in these nutrients or consider using supplements.
Consider Body Massages or Skin Tightening Creams: Regular body massages or using skin tightening creams may provide some tightening effects. Explore options such as seaweed wraps or hot water baths for additional benefits.
Increase Water Intake and Adopt a Balanced Diet: Staying hydrated and consuming a balanced diet supports overall skin health. Focus on a diverse range of fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats.
Avoid Smoking and Excessive Sun Exposure: Smoking and excessive sun exposure can damage the skin and accelerate sagging. By avoiding these harmful habits, you can effectively prevent skin aging and maintain a firm, youthful appearance.
Maintain a Healthy Weight and Regular Exercise: Maintaining a healthy weight and engaging in regular exercise can contribute to minimizing the visibility of loose skin.
If natural remedies and lifestyle changes do not effectively address loose skin, you may want to explore cosmetic surgery options. Consult with a medical professional who can provide guidance and assess your suitability as a candidate for such procedures.
Using Home Remedies to Tighten the Loose Skin
There are home remedies that can be used to tighten the skin. Some of the most effective ones are:
Egg White and Honey: Mix one egg white with two tablespoons of honey. Apply the mixture to your face and leave it on for 15-20 minutes before rinsing it off.
Olive Oil and Lemon: Blend equal amounts of olive oil and lemon juice. Apply the blend to your face and leave it on for 10-15 minutes before washing it off.
Coffee: Create a paste by mixing coffee grounds with water. Apply the paste to your face and let it sit for 15-20 minutes before rinsing it off.
Yogurt and Multani Mitti: Mix equal parts of yogurt and Multani mitti (fuller’s earth). Apply the mixture to your face and leave it on for 15-20 minutes before washing it off.
Bananas: Mash a banana and add a few drops of lemon juice. Apply the mixture to your face and let it sit for 15-20 minutes before rinsing it off.
Coconut Oil: Massage coconut oil onto your skin and leave it on for at least 30 minutes before washing it off.
Cucumber: Slice a cucumber and place the slices on your face. Leave them on for 15-20 minutes before washing your face.
Avocado Oil: Apply avocado oil to your skin and massage it in for a few minutes. Let it remain on your skin for at least 30 minutes before rinsing it off.
Aloe Vera Gel: Apply aloe vera gel to your skin and leave it on for 15-20 minutes before rinsing it off.
Remember that results may vary, and it’s always a good idea to consult with a dermatologist or healthcare professional before trying any home remedies or treatments.
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