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How To Get Rid Of Loose Skin After Weight Loss

Friday June 7, 2024 | Body Contouring, Skin Care

Woman displaying old pants after weight loss

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When you lose a lot of weight, you expect many changes, such as higher energy levels, boosted confidence, and a toned physique. However, you may not expect the loose skin that sudden weight loss can cause. When your skin no longer has to accommodate the same amount of body mass you once had, it can lead to loose skin on the hips, belly, thighs, back, and arms. Excess skin is natural after a dramatic weight loss but can still affect your confidence.

Luckily, you can get your body looking its best after losing significant amounts of weight. Whether you opt for skin excision or body contouring, we’ll help you find the loose skin solution that’s right for you.

Why Weight Loss Can Lead To Loose Skin

It’s counterintuitive: you’ve made a great choice for your health by losing weight, but you face a whole new cosmetic concern in your excess skin. It’s normal to feel discouraged by the appearance of loose skin, but remember that ultimately it represents a good thing. The amount of loose skin you have depends on several factors:

  • Amount of weight lost: The more you lose, the more likely you are to have loose skin. Loose skin is especially likely if you are losing 100 pounds or more.
  • Age: The older you are, the less collagen your skin produces, which means your skin is less able to snap back after being stretched.
  • How long you’ve been overweight: If you have been overweight or obese for many years, it will be more difficult for your skin to adapt after weight loss.
  • Genetics: Individual genetic factors can also affect how well your skin rebounds after weight loss. Some people’s skin is naturally more elastic due to genetic factors and will return more closely to a firm state after weight loss.

No two people have the same experience in losing weight and managing the skin left behind. Take some time to talk with your doctor about your weight loss journey and how it may impact your skin.

Understanding Skin Elasticity

Skin elasticity refers to the skin’s ability to stretch and return to its original shape due to collagen and elastin proteins. Collagen provides structural support, while elastin allows the skin to stretch and bounce back. This elasticity decreases with age as the body produces less collagen and elastin. In addition, how you treat your skin affects its elasticity. For example, if you spend a lot of time unprotected against UV rays, smoke, or eat poorly, your skin will be less elastic.

The skin’s ability to remain elastic is likely the most crucial factor in determining how much loose skin someone will have. If your skin has strong elasticity, then it is more likely to “bounce back” after weight loss.

Preventing And Managing Excess Skin

Although you can’t always control how much excess skin you have, slow and sustainable weight loss can prevent it to some degree. The National Heart, Blood, and Lungs Association recommends losing only one to two pounds weekly for best results. Sudden, dramatic weight loss is most likely to leave behind loose skin, as your skin won’t have enough time to adjust to the sudden change. With the recent introduction of drugs such as Wegovy and Ozempic more people than ever before are dealing with the loose skin reality of short-term, dramatic weight loss.

Your fluid intake can also affect the amount of loose skin you develop. Staying hydrated is essential for maintaining skin elasticity, as water supports collagen and elastin health. A balanced diet rich in proteins, vitamins C and E, zinc, and selenium helps nourish the skin and boost its repair and elasticity.

Finally, consider your whole-body skincare routine. Regular moisturizing and using products containing hyaluronic acid, retinol, and vitamin C can enhance skin firmness. Be diligent about wearing sunscreen and utilize a cream with at least 15 SPF daily.

Woman measuring her waist after weight loss

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What Are My Excess Skin Removal Options?

There are multiple ways to remove or treat the excess skin you’ve developed. Each procedure has its benefits and limitations; there’s no “quick fix” when it comes to loose skin after weight loss. Learn as much as possible about these treatments to maintain realistic expectations.

Topical Treatments And Lifestyle Changes

If you want to start small, use the holistic method. This approach includes using creams and lotions that may contain ingredients like retinol, hyaluronic acid, and vitamins C and E, which can improve skin texture and elasticity. You can also consider lifestyle changes such as maintaining proper hydration, eating a balanced diet, avoiding smoking, and limiting sun exposure. Regular exercise, particularly strength training, can also help improve the appearance of loose skin by increasing underlying muscle mass.

Non-Invasive Body Contouring

Body contouring is a happy medium between going organic and getting full-on surgery. These procedures typically use radiofrequency, ultrasound, or laser technology to tighten the skin without surgical incisions. Options like CoolSculpting, RF Microneedling, or Emsculpt NEO stimulate the skin to produce more collagen and elastin, leading to a tighter, more toned appearance over time. These treatments can be effective for mild to moderate skin laxity and usually require multiple sessions and some maintenance treatments.

Excess Skin Excision

Surgical options are often recommended for significant amounts of excess skin. Procedures like abdominoplasty (tummy tuck), body lifts (which may include the lower body, arms, thighs, or buttocks), or brachioplasty (arm lift) remove large quantities of loose skin and tissue. One popular form of surgery is the “Mommy Makeover”, where the doctor targets the parts of the body most affected by pregnancy and childbirth.

Don’t overlook your face and neck when dealing with loose skin. Losing weight can change the shape of your face and lead to excess skin around the jaw and neck, but the right procedures can amend this in no time. Facelifts help to give your skin a tighter and more youthful appearance, while neck lifts relieve any double chin or jowls that develop after weight loss. Facial surgery can also provide hyper-local solutions, such as blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery) or a brow lift.

All of these surgeries provide immediate results to your body’s natural contour. However, they come with longer recovery times, are more expensive, and have more risks, such as scarring and infection, than non-surgical methods.

Body Contouring vs. Skin Excision: Which Is Right For You?

Deciding between body contouring and excess skin excision largely depends on your excess skin, overall health, lifestyle, and personal goals. Ultimately, deciding what procedures will be best for you requires a consultation with a professional healthcare provider. They can analyze your goals and help create a personalized roadmap to your best body. Here’s our guide to deciding between the two procedures.

Pros and Cons of Body Contouring

Body contouring has many benefits, including:

  • Less risky: Non-invasive techniques like cryolipolysis, radiofrequency, HIFEM, ultrasound, and laser treatments involve fewer risks than surgical procedures, as they don’t require incisions or anesthesia.
  • No recovery time: These procedures usually don’t require downtime, allowing patients to return to daily activities immediately.
  • Gradual improvement: Results develop over time, providing a natural progression of skin tightening that can be less dramatic and noticeable to others.

But because it’s a gentler procedure, it has drawbacks as well:

  • Subtle results: The outcomes are often less dramatic than those achieved with surgery. Multiple sessions may be required to achieve the desired results.
  • Temporary: The effects may not be permanent, and ongoing treatments might be necessary to maintain the results.
  • Cost: Frequent maintenance sessions can add up costs over time.

If you have small amounts of excess skin or want to try something less invasive before considering surgery, try body contouring.

Pros and Cons of Skin Removal Surgery

Many people have seen great results from skin removal surgery. Its benefits include:

  • Dramatic and immediate results: Surgical options like tummy tucks, body lifts, and arm lifts remove excess skin immediately, offering significant and noticeable changes.
  • Long-lasting: The results are typically permanent as long as no significant weight gain occurs after the surgery.
  • Improves comfort and health: Removing excess skin can reduce skin infections, chafing, and irritation and improve the ability to perform physical activities comfortably.

But it is still a major surgery, and that can come with some drawbacks:

  • Invasive: Surgeries are invasive and carry risks such as infections, complications from anesthesia, and longer recovery times.
  • Scarring: Surgical procedures typically leave scars, although they can often be placed in less visible areas.
  • Cost and recovery: These procedures can be costly and usually require a significant recovery period, during which you’ll have to limit your physical activity.

If you need large amounts of excess skin removed quickly, then surgery might be your best option.

What Can I Do About My Cellulite?

In addition to excess loose skin, your cellulite may change along with your body structure. While this is entirely normal, cellulite treatments can complement body contouring and skin removal procedures. As a new and buzzy cellulite treatment method, Aveli specifically targets the underlying structural causes of cellulite.

By severing the fibrous bands that pull down on the skin and create the dimpled, uneven surface characteristic of cellulite, Aveli can smooth and refine your skin’s appearance. This treatment not only complements the tightening effects of non-invasive contouring and the dramatic improvements from surgical removal but also optimizes the texture and quality of the skin, providing a more comprehensive rejuvenation.

Person on a scale

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Finding The Right Skin Removal Surgeon in Baltimore and Greater Maryland

To find the right skin removal specialist, start by researching their qualifications, ensuring they are board-certified in plastic surgery and have specific experience with the procedures you’re interested in. Check online for patient reviews and before-and-after photos to assess the quality of their work and patient satisfaction.

Schedule consultations with several specialists to discuss your goals and evaluate their communication and professionalism, which are crucial for a positive experience. Verify that they have hospital privileges and that their surgery facilities are accredited, indicating adherence to safety standards. Finally, discuss all costs upfront and check the availability of follow-up care to ensure comprehensive support throughout your recovery.

Questions to Ask During Your Consultation

If you’re unfamiliar with the procedure, knowing which questions to ask can be difficult. Here’s our list of questions and requests to make during your initial consultation.

  • How much experience do you have with these procedures? Inquire about the provider’s qualifications and experience, specifically related to the procedures you are considering.
  • Can I see before-and-after photos of previous patients who have had similar procedures? Ask for examples of past client procedures to assess the quality of the results and the surgeon’s expertise.
  • What will the recovery process entail? Discuss recovery times, what kind of help you might need during your recovery, limitations on activities, and any pain management.
  • How long will the results last? Understand their longevity and what can be done to maintain them.
  • What is the total cost of the procedure? Ensure you know the full cost, including any follow-up treatments or additional expenses that may not be included in the initial quote.

Don’t be afraid to “surgeon shop” and ask difficult questions of your providers. Your main priority should be to find a provider who can provide the procedures you need in a safe and aesthetically pleasing way.

Where To Find Body Contouring Services Near You

If you’re looking for top-notch body contouring services in Baltimore and the Greater Maryland area, Sarah Mess, MD, offers a variety of state-of-the-art techniques tailored to meet your individual needs. Our board-certified plastic surgeon with over 20 years of experience delivers outstanding surgical results.

Book a virtual consultation today to explore how these advanced treatments can transform your body. During your consultation, you can discuss your goals, learn more about each procedure, and decide which option might be best for you. Start your journey to a more sculpted silhouette with Dr. Sarah Mess.

FAQs About Excess Skin Removal

What Is the Difference Between Body Contouring and Skin Removal Surgery?

Body contouring typically refers to procedures that reshape and redefine the body’s contours, often using techniques like liposuction or non-invasive methods to enhance the appearance of the skin and underlying tissues. Skin removal surgery, also known as excisional body contouring, specifically involves removing excess loose skin to tighten and improve the body’s appearance. This is more invasive but is often necessary after significant weight loss to achieve the best results.

How Long Does Recovery Take for Each Type of Surgery?

Recovery times can vary widely depending on the extent of the surgery and the individual’s health. Typically, non-invasive body contouring has minimal downtime, with some returning to normal activities immediately. In contrast, skin removal surgeries require more extensive recovery, often several weeks of reduced activity, to ensure proper healing and optimal results.

Are These Procedures Covered by Health Insurance?

Generally, cosmetic procedures like body contouring are not covered by health insurance as they are considered elective. At Sarah Mess MD, we do not accept insurance.

What Are the Risks Associated With Body Contouring and Skin Removal Surgery?

Body contouring and skin removal surgeries carry risks like all surgical procedures. Common risks include infection, bleeding, scarring, and reactions to anesthesia. More specific risks can vary depending on the procedure and the individual’s health profile. Discussing these risks with a qualified surgeon before undergoing any procedure is crucial.

How Do I Choose the Right Surgeon for My Procedure?

Choosing the right surgeon is critical. Look for a board-certified plastic surgeon with extensive experience in the specific procedure you are considering. Check their credentials, review before-and-after photos of their previous patients, and read reviews or testimonials. It’s also essential to have a consultation to ensure you feel comfortable with their approach and have your questions answered.

Can I Combine Body Contouring With Other Procedures?

Yes, body contouring can be combined with other procedures to achieve more comprehensive results. For example, patients often combine skin removal surgery with liposuction to remove excess fat and tighten skin. Discuss your goals with your surgeon to determine the best approach for your needs.

Contact us to explore your options

Rejuvenate Your Face and Body

Many patients come to see Dr. Sarah Mess from the Baltimore, and Washington DC areas because of her ability to provide their face and body with a revitalized look that appears naturally youthful. For all of your cosmetic needs, please call (410) 559-9468 or use the form below to request a consultation.

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