Experiencing excess skin after losing a large amount of weight can often mark the success of a person’s weight loss transformation. If you’re currently dealing with excess skin after losing weight or for other reasons, read on to understand more about your available options.
Why your skin doesn’t snap back after weight loss
Skin is a living organ and it adapts in response to weight gain by expanding to make room for your body’s increased size. Thanks to the proteins in your skin, specifically collagen and elastin, skin has the potential to contract and retract, as often seen in pregnancy.
The skin expansion experienced during pregnancy usually occurs gradually over a 5 or 6-month period. Whereas in people who have been overweight or obese, the skin has been stretched gradually, and often remained stretched for a significant time.
During this time where the skin stretches and remains stretched, the collagen and elastin fibres degrade, just as they do in old age. Collagen acts to firm and strengthen the skin, while elastin is what gives your skin elasticity and allows it to stay tight. When these proteins are damaged, your skin’s ability to retract decreases. Regardless of how slowly or quickly you lose weight, if your skin has been stretched for several years, it’s likely you’ll experience excess skin.
It’s also not just the length of time you’ve been overweight for, or the amount of weight you’ve lost that affects your skin. Age, genetics, sun exposure, and smoking, all contribute to your skin’s collagen production and how well you respond to weight gain or loss. Excess skin after extreme weight loss can:
- Cause physical discomfort and interfere with everyday activities, particularly if the weight loss is more than 50kgs.
- Discourage physical activity due rubbing/chafing of the skin.
- Result in skin irritations including rashes, ulcers and infections due to trapped perspiration.
How to deal with excess skin after weight loss
Correcting excess skin after losing large amounts of weight is not easy. Unfortunately, there’s no magic cream or pill you can take that will spring your skin back into place. There are however several things you can do, both lifestyle and surgically, to improve your skin’s appearance and elasticity.
- Take up resistance training
Resistance training can help you with your weight loss and increase your muscle mass. Increasing muscle density and size can fill and tighten the appearance of areas of your body where you’ve lost fat.
- Consume protein
Protein consumption and skin health is closely linked due to the role both lysine and proline (amino acids) play in collagen production. Increasing the amount of protein you’re eating may help prevent excess skin atrophy, dryness, and improve the topical appearance of the skin.
Studies have found collagen fibre strength is increased after supplementation of collagen hydrolysate, the collagen found in animal’s connective tissue. You can purchase collagen in powdered form in health food stores or consume a homemade bone broth to increase collagen consumption.
- Platelet Rich Plasma treatments
For subtle skin tightening, Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) is used to stimulate the patient’s collagen production. The treatment uses the patient’s own blood that’s rich in stem cells and growth factor proteins. Areas of the body treated by PRP feel firmer and the skin appears tighten after 2 or 3 treatments.
- Abdominoplasty/Skin Removal surgery
In cases where there is considerable amounts of excess skin, a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) or surgical skin removal may be recommended. These surgical procedures can remove large amounts of excess skin from multiple areas of the body for suitable candidates, as well as tighten abdominal muscles that may have stretched due to weight gain or pregnancy.