Rapid weight loss after bariatric surgery can lead to many positive changes and improvements in appearance. However, one unwelcome (though expected) outcome of surgery is loose skin. Some individuals might feel self-conscious and unhappy with their appearance and look for ways to tighten and get rid of loose skin.
Causes Of Loose Skin After Rapid Weight Loss
The skin is the largest organ in the body, forming a protective barrier. The innermost layer of skin is made of collagen and elastin, which support skin structure, strength, and firmness.
Weight gain causes the skin to expand. The longer the skin remains significantly stretched, the more damage is done to the collagen and elastin fibers, making it difficult for the skin to retract after weight loss. This leads to excess skin hanging from the body.
Individuals who have undergone weight loss surgery form less new collagen, that is also not as strong as collagen in young and healthy skin.
Factors that contribute to poor skin elasticity and loose skin after weight loss include:
- Length of time. The more time someone is overweight or obese, the looser their skin will be after weight loss.
- Total weight loss. Losing 100 pounds or more often leads to more loose skin than moderate weight loss.
- Age. Older skin produces less collagen than younger skin.
- Genetics. Some individuals are genetically predisposed to loose skin after serious weight loss.
- Chronic sun exposure. Lack of sunscreen use while outdoors could reduce skin’s collagen and elastin production.
- Smoking. Smoking impairs collagen production and damages existing collagen.
How To Naturally Tighten Loose Skin
After significant weight loss, individuals don’t necessarily need to undergo additional surgery to remove excess skin. Many natural remedies can help address loose skin.
- Resistance training. Building muscle mass is a great way to improve body composition and potentially tighten loose skin.
- Collagen supplementation. Collagen hydrolysate, also known as hydrolyzed collagen, can help improve skin elasticity, texture, and hydration.
- Vitamin and nutrient supplementation. Consuming adequate amounts of protein, Vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids, and water is key to healthy skin elasticity, hydration, and function, as well as collagen production.
- Firming creams. Creams containing collagen and elastin may temporarily boost skin tightness.
Medical Or Surgical Treatment For Loose Skin
Some individuals may opt for body contouring surgery to remove excess skin. During surgery, the surgeon will make a large incision and remove excess skin and fat. Fine stitches will be done to minimize scarring.
A few types of body-contouring surgeries include:
- Abdominoplasty. Removes skin from the abdomen.
- Lower-Body Lift. Removes skin from the belly, buttocks, hips, and thighs.
- Upper-Body Lift. Removes skin from the breasts and back.
- Medial Thigh Lift. Removes skin from the inner and outer thighs.
- Brachioplasty. Also known as an arm lift; removes skin from the upper arms.
Those who choose surgery typically undergo multiple surgeries on different body parts over the course of one to two years after weight loss.
These surgeries require a hospital stay of one to four days, with total recovery lasting two to four weeks.
Radiofrequency treatment, which is usually a combination of infrared light, radiofrequency, and massage can help reduce loose skin using a noninvasive method.