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How to Avoid Loose Skin When Losing Weight?

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Kasparas Aleknavičius, MD November 22, 2021

Losing extra weight has many health benefits, but the possibility of having saggy skin might set you back.

The body can grow and shrink, which may change the appearance of your skin. People who lose an excessive amount of weight usually experience this physical modification, even when they build more lean muscle mass.

Of course, it’s perfectly normal to have loose skin, but it may not help everyone’s self-perception. There are certain ways you can prevent or remove excess skin. You might be wondering – what is the secret to removing that droopy skin on my body?

This article explains how to prevent excess skin when losing weight.

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What Causes Loose Skin After Weight Loss?

There are many reasons why you get loose skin after weight loss. Some people might have less collagen production, and others could burn fat too quickly. Everyone has a unique weight loss journey that might affect their appearance in the long term.

Let’s take a look at 3 reasons why you may get loose skin after weight loss:

Weight loss pace

Losing weight too fast can produce excess skin that doesn’t return to its normal shape. It happens because the collagen fibers become weak and struggle with adapting to your new body. Your skin will lose elasticity, especially if you follow rapid fat loss methods.

People should aim to lose 1-2 pounds a week to avoid hanging skin. The body can slowly burn fat and maintain your skin’s collagen at the same time. Always build a diet rich in nutrients and perform exercises that don’t cause you too much strain.

Age

As you get older, your body goes through many physical changes. Over time, your skin loses collagen and elastin, which prevents it from stretching. If you experience significant weight loss, you’ll notice more excess skin around the arms and stomach.

There’s not much you can do to prevent aging skin. However, losing fat means you’ll have to take precautions. You must avoid FAD diets or extreme cardio routines, as these can cause rapid weight loss and ruin your skin’s elasticity completely.

Excessive sun exposure

Too much sun exposure can reduce collagen production and contribute to saggy skin. The UV radiation causes a buildup of enzymes that break down important collagen fibers. So, continued exposure speeds up the aging process and makes you look older.

Not protecting your body from the harmful rays can also stimulate premature wrinkles and age spots. Existing collagen won’t support elastin fibers the more you lose weight, which means you have to limit the time you spend in the sun.

Here are some ways to avoid sun exposure:

  • Find more shady areas
  • Buy long-sleeved shirts
  • Wear a hat and sunglasses
  • Use extra sunscreen

7 Ways to Avoid Loose Skin While Losing Weight

Yes, believe it or not, there are steps you can take to avoid saggy skin after weight loss. Following these tips before your weight loss journey might reduce loose skin in the long term. Just be aware that not all of these will work for everyone, so find what’s best for your body.

Below, you’ll find 7 helpful ways to prevent loose skin:

1. Gradual weight loss

You should lose weight slowly if you don’t want that sagging skin. Losing 1-2 pounds a week gives your body time to adapt. People usually achieve this by cutting 500 calories from their diet, following intermittent fasting methods, and exercising regularly.

It’s recommended that you don’t follow FAD diets – plans that encourage extreme methods of losing weight. Those who don’t want excess skin need plenty of nutrients to fuel the fat-burning process and keep their skin firm after shedding a few pounds.

For more guidance, you can try the DoFasting app to burn fat in a healthy pace. DoFasting offers all the tools for safe weight loss, including nutrient-dense recipes and educational articles.

2. Try resistance training to build muscle

Building muscle mass may reduce the appearance of loose skin. The muscle can fill out empty skin that might otherwise droop against your arms, thighs, and stomach. Toning up encourages the body to burn more calories while maintaining muscle mass.

Of course, resistance or weight lifting isn’t for everyone, but it might help prevent sagging skin. Strength training doesn’t have to be strenuous or physically draining. You can do bicep curls, reverse lunges, chest press, push-ups, and sumo squats.

3. Eat a balanced diet

A healthy diet is key to improving your skin’s overall health. For example, eating lots of junk food can cause pimples, increase eye puffiness, and trigger inflammation. If you want to avoid droopy skin after losing weight, build a nutrient-dense diet beforehand.

One way to improve your skin’s appearance is by following the ketogenic diet. This involves eating low-carb, high-fat foods that contain lots of minerals. Protein, omega-3’s, selenium, vitamin C, and vitamin A can boost your skin’s health in the long term.

The keto diet also works for intermittent fasting. It can prevent skin sagging and aging due to the decreased rate of skin protein glycation. Protein glycation only happens when you have high blood sugar levels, and fasting can immediately bring that process down.

Here are some good examples of healthy food to include in your balanced diet:

  • Salmon
  • Avocados
  • Bell peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Dark chocolate
  • Red grapes

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4. Take collagen

Collagen supplements may help the way your skin responds to being stretched or shrunk. Having just 10 grams of oral collagen pills can improve the skin’s structure after weight loss. If you don’t like supplements, there is also food you can eat in your diet.

You could have bone broth, eggs, red meats, and citrus fruits. All of these products contain high amounts of minerals that increase collagen production, which can boost your skin naturally.

5. Use firming creams

Firming creams are natural remedies that can tighten skin. Not every cream works, but some of them contain firming ingredients. For example, vitamin A (retinol), collagen peptides, and alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) are great at smoothing out wrinkles.

Some people might use these creams throughout their fat loss journey. This can help prevent any loose skin while they’re burning fat. However, you can use it whenever you prefer, as it depends on your weight loss goals and current body weight.

6. Don’t smoke

Smoking increases a particular enzyme in your body that breaks down collagen. These enzymes are called collagenases – special proteins capable of aging your skin. Feeding your system with nicotine is more likely to cause loose skin after moderate weight loss.

Removing this habit may help you avoid those body contouring surgeries. Cutting out smoking can prevent loose skin when you lose weight and age. You could find soothing gum, do more regular physical activity, and try relaxation techniques.

7. Stay hydrated

Drinking enough water is one way to improve skin elasticity. Adequate hydration can tighten the skin around your waist, jawline, stomach, and arms. To lose that stubborn weight, you also need to drink water to encourage the fat-burning mechanisms.

Men should have around 12 cups of water daily, and women need 9 cups. This is enough to fuel your body when you lose weight gradually. Going too long without water will disrupt major weight loss, cause headaches, and promote long-term fatigue.

To drink more water, you can:

  • Set daily goals
  • Keep a reusable water bottle
  • Have water before meals
  • Add flavor to the water
  • Sip throughout the day
  • Eat more water-based foods

Can Loose Skin Disappear by Itself After Weight Loss?

Yes, small to moderate amounts of weight loss may keep the skin tighter. The skin elasticity contains more collagen to retract over time. However, massive weight loss in a short period actually causes the skin to shrink quickly without adjusting properly.

You should always lose weight slowly to avoid medical procedures. Sagging skin only occurs when you don’t build the right fat loss routine. For example, the skin stretches and removes tightening fibers, leading to excess skin that can’t rebuild its structure.

How to Tighten Loose Skin After Weight Loss?

There are several ways you can tighten or remove loose skin. Some people might prefer reconstructive surgery, and others could use natural methods. It depends on your goal weight and whether you want to continue to shed pounds in the future.

Here are 2 options to choose from when tightening skin:

Surgical removal

Getting the skin removed is a popular option, and the surgery usually helps people feel more confident in how they look. Surgical operations might sound scary to begin with, but they’re perfectly safe when removing saggy skin.

A tummy tuck is usually the prominent choice. This surgery of removing the skin from your stomach is called abdominoplasty. It can also tighten weak muscles, which helps with toning. You can get this procedure if you suffer from droopy skin around the waist.

There are other procedures that target specific areas. For example, the arm lift (brachioplasty) focuses on removing skin from the arms. Another form of surgery might be a facelift, which gives you a younger appearance by tightening the skin around the neck.

Plastic surgery is safe when you see the right surgeons. How much weight you lose and the amount of excess skin on your body can determine the exact procedures you’ll need. If you have any self-consciousness, consult with your doctor about losing or preventing loose skin.

However, be aware that if you decide to do bariatric surgery (the weight loss surgery that involves changing how your stomach and intestines handle food), you’ll still possibly have loose skin. This is because after bariatric surgery you’ll be losing weight at a faster pace, especially if you want to lose more than 100 pounds.

Lifestyle changes

Changing your lifestyle habits can help restore long-term skin health. Some of these might include adhering to a nutrient-rich diet, exercising, and abstaining from alcohol. They sound simple at first, but building your routine takes time and effort.

A healthy diet containing certain nutrients can naturally treat loose and dry skin. Eating too much junk food leads to weight gain, which eliminates those important fibers. Try the keto diet or intermittent fasting for weight loss, and eat collagen-rich foods.

The same goes for alcohol and how it contributes to weight gain. Since alcohol dehydrates the body, your skin won’t have enough moisture to stay firm. Over time, this may increase your chances of getting plastic surgery to remove the excess skin.

Exercise might sound like an easy trick, but it’s very important. You can tone up your muscles and give the skin a good foundation to sit on. Regular exercise, in general, reduces the risk of heart disease and helps you lose weight sustainably.

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Conclusion

So, can you really prevent sagging skin?

There are lots of ways you can tighten excess skin after losing some weight. People often drink water, build more muscle, take collagen supplements, use firming creams, or burn fat slowly to prevent that skin drooping around their stomach and arms.

Just remember that rapid weight loss is very unhealthy. Reaching your ideal body takes time, so start doing those small steps to maintain your skin’s natural elasticity.

Author

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Kasparas Aleknavičius, MD
  • Head of Medical Affairs at Kilo Health
  • Medical Doctor at Vilnius University, Lithuania
  • Partnering with the EU-funded Young50 and EUPAP projects

Kasparas Aleknavicius is a medical doctor that graduated from Vilnius University, working as head of medical affairs at Kilo Health. After nearly 5 years in the industry, Kasparas focuses on digital health and is looking for innovative ways to help people lead healthy lifestyles through digital health and wellness platforms.

You can find Kasparas on LinkedIn and follow his latest research on Medium.

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