How To Avoid Loose Skin After You Lose Weight

When planning for your weight loss journey, the thought of having loose skin can make the entire idea less appealing. Having toned arms, a flat belly, a firm butt, higher energy levels, and a well-defined body in exchange for loose skin in your thighs, arms or stomach doesn't feel like a good trade-off and definitely isn't what you had in mind when you decided to lose weight.

Is there a way to prevent loose skin after losing weight? That's one question people ask before embarking on a weight loss journey. The good news? There is a way. Although it’s not possible to completely avoid loose skin after a huge weight loss, there are various steps and procedures that can make a difference.

Have you considered clinical trials for Weight management?

We make it easy for you to participate in a clinical trial for Weight management, and get access to the latest treatments not yet widely available - and be a part of finding a cure.

Factors affecting loose skin after weight loss

Whether you will have loose skin or not after losing weight depends on several things. To avoid loose skin, being aware of the following factors that affect loose skin after weight loss will help you.

Smoking

Smoking leads to a reduction in collagen production and damages existing collagen. It may not necessarily cause loose skin after weight loss, but it contributes to sagging skin.

Excessive sun exposure

The more you’re exposed to the sun, the lower your collagen and elastin production levels, making your skin less elastic and looser after losing weight.

Length of time

The longer you have been obese or overweight, the looser your skin will be after losing weight.

Weight

Depending on the quality of your skin and other risk factors, losing 100 pounds or more can result in more loose skin.

Age

When you age, dermal collagen fibrils undergo progressive loss and fragmentation, which leads to thin and structurally weakened skin.

How can you avoid loose skin while losing weight?

Here is what you should do before, during, and after your weight loss journey to ensure your skin retracts as you lose weight:

1. Lose weight gradually

Although it may not always be an option, losing weight slowly is the best way to prevent loose skin. According to Princeton University Health Services¹, dieting affects the skin because weight loss and weight gain both cause the skin to stretch and lose elasticity. As a result, skin becomes vulnerable to wrinkling and sagging under the forces of gravity.

Stay away from extreme weight loss tactics, such as skipping meals, if you don't want your skin to sag. Instead, focus on substituting your diet with more nutritious food and smaller portions to lose weight gradually. You should lose two pounds per week, at most.

2. Lose weight by building muscle

Holly Wyatt, M.D., professor of medicine at the University of Colorado says² that losing weight by building muscle makes your skin appear tauter. Your skin begins to sag because the space that was filled by fat is left empty. To prevent this, replace it with muscle.

Building muscle also benefits weight loss because it keeps burning calories long after you finish your fitness routine.

3. Eat a balanced diet

For your skin to regain its elasticity and retract as you lose weight, you should eat fruits and vegetables and foods rich in Vitamins A, C, and E on a regular basis.

4. Quit smoking

The elasticity of your skin is lowered by the chemicals in cigarettes. Nicotine also prevents nutrients from flowing to your skin. This results in premature wrinkles and dry skin, which do not shrink back down as you lose weight.

5. Stay hydrated

While losing weight, regularly drinking water correlates with a higher rate of weight loss. It fuels exercise and suppresses your appetite. Staying hydrated keeps the skin elastic and prevents having loose skin after weight loss.

6. Protect your skin

As you age, your skin loses its elasticity due to reduced elastin and collagen levels. If you haven't been taking care of your skin properly, losing weight could create loose skin that cannot shrink back.

To prevent this, take care of your skin by avoiding too much exposure to the sun. You can do this by planning your workouts (if you do them outdoors) either early in the morning or late in the evening.

When spending time in the sun, make sure to wear sunscreen. If you don't have to be in the sun, shield yourself in the shade to stop UV rays from destroying your collagen.

How can you tighten loose skin after losing weight?

Before you start tightening your skin, you first need to identify whether you really have loose skin or just a thin layer of fat. To find out, pinch your skin.

If there are more than a few millimeters of skin, it is subcutaneous fat making your skin appear loose. Once you lose the subcutaneous fat, you might not even need to tighten your skin.

If that is not the case, here is what you can do to tighten your skin after losing weight:

1. Eat well

For your skin to bounce back, there are two components it needs: collagen and elastin. These components can be increased by ensuring you eat a diet full of Vitamins A, C, and E. Some of these foods include:

  • Vitamin A: Cheese, eggs, oily fish, milk and yogurt, fortified low-fat spreads, etc.

  • Vitamin C: Broccoli, brussels sprouts, potatoes, oranges, strawberries, etc.

  • Vitamin E: Vegetable oils such as sunflower or olive oil, almonds, peanuts, margarine, fruit juices, spinach, etc.

2. Lifestyle changes

Certain habits such as smoking make your skin appear more saggy and loose.

3. Hydrate and moisturize

Just as staying hydrated is important for your weight loss journey, it’s just as important in keeping your skin elastic and tight.

According to a study³, increasing your daily intake of water improves your skin's hydration and function. That means not only will your skin become more elastic, it will also look better.

You should be hydrated not just on the inside, but also on the outside by moisturizing. Apart from enhancing the benefits of drinking water, moisturizing also reduces stretch marks.

A good moisturizer that has natural oils such as olive oil or collagen will keep your skin elastic and healthy.

4. Exercise

If your skin was stretched for a long time, it may be difficult or take longer to retract back and fit your slimmer body. To reduce your skin’s saggy appearance, you can fill up the space by building muscles.

Exercises such as facial exercises, weight lifting, and resistance training will increase your muscle mass and make your skin tighter. Even if you exercise for only half an hour a day, you can build muscle and have tighter skin.

5. Non-surgical procedures

There are a number of non-surgical procedures that tighten your skin and improve its appearance, including:

  • Neuromodulators

  • Intense pulsed light/radiofrequency combination treatments

  • Ultrasound skin tightening

  • Ablative laser resurfacing

  • Chemical peels

These procedures are dubbed non-invasive because they don't leave an incision, puncture wound, or raw skin afterward. You may notice some temporary swelling and redness, but that's often the only sign that you’ve had a skin tightening procedure.

6. Surgical procedures

If the other techniques do not provide you with the results you desire, you can speak to your doctor to find out if surgery is an option. Surgeries to remove excess skin and fat are called body-contouring surgeries.

The procedures involve cutting and removing excess fat and skin on specific areas. They include:

  • Tummy tuck

  • Thigh lift

  • Body lift

  • Brachioplasty

  • Breast lift

It is important to choose a surgeon wisely when undergoing any of the above surgical procedures to ensure you get the results you want with no adverse side effects.

Can loose skin after weight loss go away on its own?

Not quite. If your skin is slightly loose following moderate weight loss, it will retract by itself. For weight losses of over 100 pounds, you will need to undergo medical procedures to tighten it up.

However, how loose your skin will depend on a number of factors, as discussed above.

If you do away with all the risk factors before you start your weight loss journey, lose weight slowly, and take all the necessary steps and procedures during and after your journey, your skin will be able to retract shortly after you reach your weight goal. You might even avoid having loose skin altogether.

Have you considered clinical trials for Weight management?

We make it easy for you to participate in a clinical trial for Weight management, and get access to the latest treatments not yet widely available - and be a part of finding a cure.

Joining community groups and exercise programs for my condition made me feel empowered – but I want to be part of finding a cure.
Peter, 64

Have you considered clinical trials for Weight management?

Do you want to know if there are any clinical trials you might be eligible for?
Have you been diagnosed with a medical condition?
Have you considered joining a clinical trial?


Join our email list

Want all the latest clinical trial and HealthMatch news in your inbox? We thought you might! Sign up below.