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Dealing With the Negatives of Your Weight Loss

Posted December 15, 2020 in Plastic Surgery After Weight Loss

5 Minute Read: 

There is nothing more rewarding than losing the excess pounds that have been weighing you down for years. Sadly, this weight loss is often accompanied by the appearance of loose, lax skin that hangs from a firmer underlying body contour. For many people, the thought of dealing with excess skin after weight loss can be stressful as it’s not only a cosmetic concern but also physically uncomfortable.

Woman grabbing excess skin and fat on her abdomen.

Why Do We Develop Loose Skin After Weight Loss?

If skin stretches to accommodate weight gain, shouldn’t it also shrink with weight loss?

This is a question that many individuals have regarding skin elasticity and weight loss, and it’s a reasonable question. It would make sense to assume that if skin can stretch, it can also shrink. 

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. 

Skin gets its elasticity (the ability to stretch and contract) from proteins in the skin. These proteins are collagen and elastin, and together they give the skin strength, flexibility, and resilience. 

When you are young, your skin produces large amounts of these proteins—which is the main reason that younger skin is so strong—but, as you age, this production decreases, making the skin thinner, weaker, and less able to contract.

Sagging, hanging skin is the result of this.

Why Can Skin Contract After Pregnancy But Not Weight Loss?

As women know, your abdominal skin stretches significantly during the nine months of your pregnancy and—often—contracts after you have your baby. 

So, how is pregnancy skin different from weight loss skin?

While not always the case, many pregnant women are younger and have good skin elasticity to start with. Women tend to gain and lose pregnancy weight within a one to two-year period. This is a relatively short time compared to the amount of time that many individuals carry around excess weight gain—which is usually several years, if not decades.

This shorter amount of time makes it more likely that the skin will be able to contract.

And not every woman’s skin contracts after her pregnancy; many women are left with loose abdominal skin following childbirth. This is just one of the reasons that plastic surgery after having children is so common.

Do I Have to Remove My Loose Skin After Weight Loss?

While there is no requirement that loose, sagging skin has to be removed, many weight-loss patients choose to do so for aesthetic and physical reasons. 

Excess skin hides the slimmer contours that you have worked so hard to attain. This can lead to significant frustration and sadness that your results are muted.

Additionally, hanging skin often results in unwanted skin conditions, such as chafing, rashes, and sores. This occurs when the loose skin rubs against other skin (when walking or during vigorous exercise). These skin conditions can be painful and can even lead to more significant concerns, such as infection.

What Can Be Done About My Loose Skin After Weight Loss?

Luckily, there are many surgical and non-surgical options for reducing and tightening loose skin. Whether it’s your backside, belly, thighs, arms, or face, there are various approaches and techniques that help tighten skin and improve its tone and appearance. 

Let’s dive into the types of skin tightening options available to address your needs.

What Are My Non-Surgical Body Contouring Options?

The right candidates for non-surgical options are those with minor amounts of skin laxity. 

Most non-surgical treatments use radiofrequency energy, such as BodyTite®, which tightens the skin and eliminates remaining fat pockets by stimulating collagen production. 

BodyTite® is a minimally invasive device used in areas throughout the body, such as the abdomen, arms, neck, breasts, love handles, thighs, and buttocks.

What Are My Surgical Body Contouring Options?

Tummy Tuck

A tummy tuck is a common body contouring procedure used to tighten abdominal muscle laxity and remove excess skin in the stomach area. The tummy tuck is the gold standard to address excess skin and contour loss in the midsection following massive weight loss.

This procedure is popular among both men and women and, for women, is a standard part of a Mommy Makeover.

Before and after image showing the results of a tummy tuck performed in Birmingham, AL.

Breast Lift

Significant weight loss is accompanied by decreased skin elasticity around the breast area. A breast lift removes excess sagging skin and repositions the nipple for a more youthful, perky appearance.

For women with deflated breasts, breast augmentation with implants can restore volume.

Arm Lift

If you have excess, hanging skin in the upper arm area, you might consider an arm lift (brachioplasty) to address a “batwing” appearance.

Thigh Lift

A thigh lift can tighten the skin around the inner/outer thigh and buttocks. It can also be performed in combination with a body lift to improve overall body contour.

Lower Body Lift

If you have more sagging skin around your outer thighs, buttocks, and hips, a lower body lift can help you achieve a firmer body contour.

Belt Lipectomy

A belt lipectomy combines a lower body lift with an abdominoplasty.  This allows a patient to realize the maximum lower body aesthetic.

It is important for patients to commit to taking good care of themselves by adopting a healthy diet and exercise program to maintain their results. The combination of plastic surgery with a healthy lifestyle gives the very best results in the year following surgery.

Will These Body Contouring Treatments Give Me Permanent Results?

Body contouring surgeries physically remove the excess hanging skin, and once that skin is gone, it is gone for good. 

While these procedures can provide long-lasting—and sometimes permanent—results, they can be affected by additional weight gain or pregnancy. This is why it is so important to maintain a stable weight following surgery.

Additionally, your skin will lose some laxity as you age. While this type of laxity will not nearly be as much as the laxity present after weight loss, it is something to keep in mind.

Interested in Learning More?

The skin tightening procedure that’s right for you depends on the area you want to target and the amount of loose skin you would like removed. 

If you are interested in learning more about your surgical options for loose skin, contact our office at (205) 930-1600 or fill our online form to schedule a consultation.

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