Loose skin (a.k.a. skin sagging and stretched skin) is often referred to as a cosmetic condition when either the skin lost its elasticity due to age or too much loose skin is available for a body mass that is smaller then the amount of skin that is required to cover it.
Common causes of loose skin (sagging)
- Age – skin sagging is attributed to lost collagen and elastin (connective tissue proteins). Reduced muscle tone is also a contributor to skin sagging
- Exposure to sun – excessive UV radiation exposure causes damage to skin cells and breaks down elastin and collagen
- Weight Loss – rapid weight loss due to intentional dieting and exercise, medical conditions, gastric bypass or change in life style
- Post pregnancy
Associated conditions of having too much loose skin (stretched skin)
- Unpleasant cosmetic appearance that contradicts the original goal of improved appearance via weight loss
- Excessive amounts of stretch marks (striae, a.k.a. off hue scarring)
- Limited mobility
- Hygiene and body maintenance issues
- Excessive amounts of loose skin that form folds may contribute to skin infections in the folds by bacterial overgrowth
- Complications from cosmetic surgery aimed at removing the excess and tightening of skin.
Non-invasive methods of reducing the amounts of loose skin (skin sagging)
- Time – skin will naturally retract to fit the new body dimensions over a few years period. This natural process is especially most effective for individuals younger than 50 years old. However, if the weight loss occurred too rapidly, it is less likely that the skin will retract completely.
- Balanced diet high in fatty acids and vitamin C can promote body’s own production of collagen
- Increasing of muscle volume by weight training to build the muscle mass and compensate for lost fat and lean muscle tissues
- Yoga for abdominal skin health by utilization of Upward Dog and Cobra poses
- Topical treatments that contribute to skin moisturizing and cell turnover such as avocado, vitamin E, grape seed and olive oils. It is important to use only those products that went through clinical trials. The market is flooded with products that produce little or no results, but with help of smart marketing and counterfeit reviews, these ineffective products make their way to the top of lists.
- Chlorine avoidance – always take a chlorine cleansing shower after being in a pool
- Natural body washes and soaps – sulfates contained in many body washes, shampoos and soaps over dry and irritate skin which makes it less elastic
- Tanning avoidance – spend the majority of time in a shadow and use sun tanning lotions to protect skin from UV radiation
- Bi-polar radio frequency treatments that raise the temperature of the skin’s outer layer to stimulate collagen production and improve skin texture appearance
Invasive procedures to reduce the amount of sagging skin (stretched skin)
- Laser therapy that uses high intensity light spectrum to penetrate below the outer skin layer to tighten up the tissues
- Collagen, fat cells and hyaluronic acid injections for small areas that may require treatment for cosmetic purposes, such as those on face
- Body-contouring surgery – the very last option that should be only considered if the skin folds cause other medical conditions. It is not recommended to remove the excess of the skin strictly due to the cosmetic appearance. If surgery is considered, it should be done a couple of years after weight stabilization and only recommended for healthy individuals without existing health conditions such as diabetes.
It is important to note that cosmetic surgery to remove the loose skin often results in nerve and muscle tissue damage. The damage often results in lifelong pain and numbness syndromes and makes lives of many significantly more miserable than from having too much skin sagging
Side effects of body-contouring surgery
- Unsatisfactory results even with reasonable expectations
- Asymmetrical skin distribution may result in some areas to look tighter than others, creating an unnatural appearance signifying “skin surgery”.
- Swelling and bruising
- Permanent scarring
- Requirement of continued surgical procedures to compensate for surgery side effects
Dangers of skin surgery
- Separation of incisions
- Skin death (skin necrosis)
- Seroma (tissue fluid buildup)
- Vein thrombosis (formation of clots)
- Pulmonary embolism (formation of clots in lungs) and associated pneumonia
- Life threatening infections
The most natural way to deal with excessive skin after a weight loss is balanced diet, exercise, hygienic skin care and most importantly let the time heal!