Congratulations on your weight loss. That is something to celebrate! Now that you’ve lost weight, are you wondering why you have some loose skin hanging around? Try the pinch test. Grab the skin on top of your hand- just skin, right? Now, try grabbing your waistline or underarms. Do you pinch skin or is there fat along with the loose skin? It’s very possible that what you’re grabbing is that stubborn subcutaneous fat. This type of fat is the most annoying, floppy, stubborn, and very last bit of fat that typically remains after weight loss.
If you’ve lost a significant amount of weight more rapidly than the recommended 1-2 pounds per week, you may end up with some loose skin hanging out in your stomach, arms, thighs, or chin. Loose skin is common in these areas. However, loose skin can appear anywhere on the body. Imagine that you have a water balloon filled with water to the max, and then suddenly there’s a leak, leaving the water balloon to look deflated. It’s kind of the same concept with loose skin- when there is no fat “inflation”, the skin starts to lose its shape and deflate, leaving excess skin.
There are two reasons you could be seeing this “loose skin” hanging around. One reason could be that it is subcutaneous fat. The other is that it truly is just skin that lost its elasticity. Did you know that skin is considered a living organ? It’s true! It can also be tightened up after a period of time. Age and genetics also play a role in skin elasticity, as well as your overall diet, hydration, and strength training regimen. When you keep your body hydrated, and take care of your skin by taking vitamin supplements, as well as putting on muscle to fill in the loose skin, your body will naturally start to tighten up again.
It’s best not to go on crash or fad diets where you lose a lot of weight fast. You’re skin just can’t keep up and you end up losing a lot of muscle as well. When you lose a lot of weight quickly, the muscle structure that supports your skin and holds it against your body is lost, as well as the fat that keeps the skin stretched tight is no longer there, thus causing the loose skin. It’s important to monitor your weight loss at a slow and steady pace and aim for 1-2 pounds of fat loss per week. Along with a good nutrition program for weight loss, it’s also important to make sure that you are strengthening your muscles with resistance training, or strength training with weights.
Loose skin can bother a lot of people, especially if it’s causing discomfort or pain. Loose skin can also make you feel uncomfortable or self-conscious. Many people wear compression garments to hold the skin tight against their body frame, and it can also minimize tiny tears from skin vibration. These compression garments can also help prevent injuries from carrying loose-weighted skin.
Bottom line is that loose skin shouldn’t stop you from loving yourself and being the best version of yourself. After all, you successfully accomplished a goal- weight loss. Don’t be hard on yourself about the loose skin. It is very normal. If the loose skin is a result of subcutaneous fat, keep going with your weight loss plan. Don’t give up! With strength training and healthy eating, the subcutaneous fat will eventually melt off. If the loose skin still bothers you, here are some tricks to help with that loose, flabby skin after weight loss:
Tricks to Help With Loose Skin After Weight Loss
1. Drink lots of water
Your body needs hydration and it is crucial for maintaining skin elasticity. Since your skin is made up of cells, the cells are made of water. Without proper hydration, your skin isn’t functioning or getting sufficient amounts of water in order to be resilient. You need water to have more skin elasticity and reduce skin dryness. When skin gets very dry, it will crack or flake. But when it’s hydrated, it stays soft, elastic, and plump. You can hydrate your skin by drinking lots of water and by what you eat. Hydration can come from any source- food or drink.
2. Nutrition is everything
You need to make sure that you are eating properly. Eating the right foods or taking supplements that contain collagen and elastin, if needed, is very important. Your nutrition plan should include foods rich in protein, such as cottage cheese, plain yogurt, legumes, tofu, nuts, and fish. All fish contain collagen and elastin-forming components, as well as good oils that help with keeping your skin healthy. Make sure you eat high protein foods but watch the calorie intake so you don’t gain back all the weight you just lost. Keep an eye out for lower carb, low sugar proteins that will help you maintain your goal weight.
3. Nourish your skin
It’s important to keep your skin hydrated. There are many creams to help tighten and firm your skin. When you look for skin firming creams, make sure the ingredients include aloe vera, hyaluronic acid, yeast extract, and soy protein. The firming creams also need to have vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin A, which can help increase the collagen and elastin in your skin, as well as increase hydration. Exfoliators are also a great way to help with dry and dead skin cells. When you exfoliate your skin, it increases circulation. Try a salt or sugar scrub exfoliator and rub it over all loose skin areas. Also, limiting sun exposure, smoking, chlorine water, and harsh soaps from your daily routine will help keep your skin stay hydrated instead of drying it out, causing premature aging. Incorporating a good overall body moisturizer to help lock in moisture is key for keeping your skin healthy.
4. Lift weights
Remember the water balloon example at the beginning of this article? What happens when the balloon deflates? It gets floppy and loses its shape, right? Same concept with loose skin. When you lose a lot of weight quickly, your skin can’t keep up with the “deflated” fat that suddenly disappeared. That’s why it is important to lose weight at a steady and slow speed. When you incorporate weight lifting or some form of resistance training, you build up that empty space with muscle that can ultimately fill out that loose skin by tightening it up.
It’s important to strength train to help with the appearance of loose skin. They say it takes about 4 weeks for you to start noticing results in yourself from weight training, and about 6-9 weeks for others to notice. Be patient with yourself and remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is building muscle mass. It takes time, but you will see the results. Just keep going. Let’s reiterate this; remember, be patient with yourself. Skin is a living organ, and it will return to fit your new body. However, it may take a while. It may be a slow process, but it will happen. You made it this far- keep going!