How to get rid of loose skin after weight loss surgery? [EXPLANATION]

Added by Klaudia Grabowska on 10.12.2020

Loose skin after weight loss surgery

Weight loss surgeries are performed when patients BMI exceeds 35. In practice, bariatric patients have dozens of kilograms to lose – very often, it is over 100 kilograms. No wonder, there is much loose skin afterward. If you are going to have bariatric surgery, you have probably heard about the problem of loose skin after weight loss surgery or seen loose skin after weight loss surgery pictures which are not very aesthetic. 

It is important that we realize that our skin is elastic and it tends to stretch when we gain weight, but it also tends to tighten when we lose kilograms. The thing is that these are usually years, sometimes the whole life, when we gain weight, but losing it after the surgery takes much shorter, so loose skin after bariatric surgery is rather normal and we cannot expect it to tighten immediately. In this article, we will show you that loose skin from weight loss surgery is not as terrible as you think and will explain to you what to do to avoid the problem of loose skin weight loss, how to get rid of a hanging belly, and how to prepare your skin for the surgery.

Overweight woman jogging on the highway

Most people after rapid weight loss face loose skin

Loose skin after weight loss

Generally, the vast majority of people who were on a diet have faced loose skin after weight loss. The perfect situation for our skin is losing weight very slowly so that it can keep up with the less fat. However, there are many diets that entail losing weight very fast, also bariatric surgery triggers a rapid weight loss – then, we lose fat, but are left with saggy skin.

 

 

Having excess skin after weight loss is enhanced by the following factors:

  • we lost weight too fast
  • we did not implemented exercises in a dieting period
  • our age (the older we are, the less collagen we have)
  • length of weight gain (the longer it lasts, the more loose is the skin)
  • excessive sun exposure
  • smoking.

Excess skin after weight loss is not only an aesthetic issue but may also cause some more serious problems – we describe them below.

Excess skin problems

What we are worried about is how the excess skin will influence our look, whether we will be able to wear a swimsuit or we will be forced to hide our arms or tummy forever. But there are some much more worrying excess skin problems. So, does excess skin cause health problems? Yes, and we all should know that preventing loose skin is beneficial primarily to health, and only secondary to our look. 

Excess skin irritation

size plus woman headache

Loose skin may cause some health problems so it is important to be aware of how to prevent it

Excess skin irritation and rash are very common. When there are many folds of saggy skin, the perspiration is blocked and the folds cause pressure to each other, as a result of which there may become an itchy red rash and irritation. Many bariatric patients admit that the excess skin sores and they feel very uncomfortable with that – sometimes they need to take painkillers to alleviate the pain.

Skin chafing

Skin chafing is a problem that many obese people face – their body parts abut and chafe each other and they sweat overly – these are ideal conditions for chafting skin. Once people lose weight, the problem remains and it is not the fat that makes body parts chafing, but the loose skin. The skin chafing symptoms include boils, rash, itching, pain, redness, swelling, blisters, or burning

Excess skin infection

Skin infection is a serious condition that requires medical treatment. What is a skin infection? It is a condition caused by different types of germs, we can face the following:

  • bacterial skin infection
  • viral skin infection
  • fungal skin infection
  • parasitic skin infection.

Loose skin is often associated with bacterial and fungal infections. The skin folds provide a very warm, dark, and sweaty environment which enhances bacteria and fungi developing. Once we face any skin infection, we should contact the doctor or chemist who will tell us how to treat skin infection. 

Low self-esteem

Last but not least, loose skin is a source of low self-esteem. Bariatric surgery is very important in terms of health, look, and also mentality – one of its expected outcomes is restoring a sense of self-worth. The truth is, many people admit that losing dozens of kilograms haven’t made them happy just because they are left with sagging skin. And at the end, they find themselves self-conscious with very low self-esteem. Here, we need to stress that loose skin is not a necessity and some people do not face it after the surgery or diet. Once they do, there are ways of helping the skin tightening process that is really effective.

How to avoid loose skin after weight loss surgery

Overweight girl reading book

It is always easier to avoid than treat, so it is important to get the skin ready for massive weight loss

If you are wondering how to get rid of saggy skin, how to prevent loose skin when losing weight or how to minimize loose skin after bariatric surgery once you already face it, we have good news! Following some instructions before and after weight loss surgery will make your skin prepared for the changes. As a result, you may shorten the skin tightening period, avoid the problem of sagging skin at all, or minimize it to such an extent that it would not pose any problem.  It is important that bariatric surgery patients or people planning a strict diet start the preparations before the surgery or diet and follow all recommendations afterwards.

Preparation for weight loss

Preparation for weight loss is very important – it gives our body time to prepare for the changes and signals that the food quality and quantity will change. When the body is not surprised and shocked but prepared, it cooperates with our brain and allows for a healthy weight loss without any side effects. The basic set that we should elaborate on includes a diet, exercising, and cosmetics. 

Diet

Ingredients for a fresh guacamole food photography recipe idea

A healthy diet can improve skin elasticity

A healthy skin diet should be well-balanced and not too strict. So, for those who consider going on a diet, we advise gradually introduce new diet components and gradually decrease the calorie intake so that our body can get prepared. The situation looks different for bariatric surgery patients. They cannot follow any diet for good skin, but the special diet before the bariatric surgery. Such a diet is low-calorie and high-protein. So, to some extent, it fits the frames of a loose skin diet and for sure it prepares the body for losing much more weight.

The food that is particularly significant for the skin tightening process include:

  • avocado
  • olive oil
  • coconut oil
  • fatty fish
  • green tea
  • beets
  • tomatoes (and other red and orange vegetables)
  • cucumber
  • citrus
  • berries
  • leafy greens
  • turmeric
  • oysters.
MMedications on white plate

Sometimes to tighten the skin after weight loss the supplements may be necessary

When you follow a diet that contains the food above, you can be sure that your skin condition and it’s elasticity will improve over time. 

Vitamins

The vitamins for loose skin can be either contained in food or taken as supplements. A balanced diet full of valuable vegetables and fruit is always the best choice, but to get enough vitamins to tighten skin after weight loss, supplements may be necessary.

The vitamin must have is:

  • Vitamin A (it can have a form of retinol, retin A or retinoid) – it is proven to act on ageing signs and skin elasticity. It is contained in e.g. carrots, broccoli, spinach, cheese, eggs, avocado, melon and fish oil.
  •  Vitamin B9 (folic acid) – it supports the production of collagen for skin, keeps hydration and prevents skin dryness. This Vitamin is contained in citrus fruit, green vegetables, beans and legumes.
  • Vitamin C for sagging skin – it takes part in collagen production, brightens the skin and makes it firm. It is contained in e.g. citrus fruit, peppers, broccoli, spinach, cabbage and potatoes.
  • Vitamin D – it is mainly responsible for postponing and slowing the ageing process (including skin cells ageing). It is produced by the body when it is exposed to sunlight (only 20 minutes of sun exposure a day is enough). The food that contains vitamin D is cod liver oil, ricotta cheese or egg yolk.
  • Vitamin E for sagging skin contains antioxidants which play a key role in skin and hair condition – its positive influence on skin elasticity is medically proven. Vitamin E to tighten skin is the most popular supplement, but it is also contained in some food, e.g. spinach, sunflower, almonds, peanuts, olive oil or broccoli.
  • Vitamin K – it influences the overall condition of skin including elasticity, stretch marks, and scars visibility. The sources of Vitamin K are cucumber, kiwi, kale, broccoli, lettuce, and cabbage.

Once you consider getting a supplement for loose skin, do not choose only vitamin c supplements for loose skin or only Vitamin K supplements. It is best to choose such a product that contains all of the above vitamins as well as collagen pills. Collagen is responsible for tight and elastic skin, so once you find the best collagen supplement, you may be really surprised with the results. 

Raw almonds

Protein intake after weight loss is very important. Food that is rich in proteins includes fish, milk, nuts, and poultry

Proteins

Proteins are the most important diet components – each cell, including skin cells, consists of protein blocks, so it is necessary to eat enough proteins if we want to stay healthy. As for the role of protein for sagging skin, L-proline and L-lysine are protein components which enable collagen production. Collagen makes the skin firm and tight, so the more collagen our bodies produce, the less loose skin we have.

The food that is rich in proteins includes tofu, cottage cheese, fish (especially salmon), milk, seeds and beans, nuts, poultry.

Drink lots of water

Water is the main chemical component of the body, being about 50-70% of the body weight.

The main roles of water include:

  • providing natural hydration for skin
  • protecting tissues
  • enabling such process as urination, bowel movements, and perspiration
  • regulating the temperature
  • cushioning and lubricating joints.

We need to remember that we lose water all the time – through perspiration, breath, urine, and bowel movement, so we need to hydrate regularly. It is recommended that women drink at least 2,5 liters of water a day and men drink at least 3,5 liters. Of course, hydration comes also from other drinks (e.g. tea or juice) and food (e.g. fruits). Lastly, we must hydrate regularly – drinking a bottle of water immediately would be ineffective, it is rather recommended that we drink 1-2 glasses of water (or other drink) each 1-2 hours. 

Full length of senior couple doing stretching exercise

Exercises and building the muscles after weight loss may give the skin firmness

Exercise

Exercise for loose skin may work a miracle. To put it simply, fat is accumulated just below the skin, and the muscles are located just below the fat. Once we lose weight, the fat is gone and there is a gap between the muscles and skin. So naturally, the skin is sagging. To fill this gap, it is enough to build the muscles – they will fill the empty space and the skin will regain its former firmness. It is important to focus on strength training and these body parts where the skin is loose, e.g. thighs, tummy, or arms. It may be combined with cardio, but still, the muscle building is the most important.

The benefits of exercise for skin include:

  • making the skin tight
  • eliminating sagging skin
  • improving stamina and shape
  • improving health condition
  • boosting metabolism
  • shaping the character
  • improving the physical appearance, gaining attractiveness.

Starting exercise for loose skin after weight loss is simple – there are many articles, videos, books, gyms that provide us with the specific training for a chosen body part. The only thing is to get motivated. The exercise for loose skin on the stomach differs from exercise for loose skin underarms, so it is important to set a goal.

Below, we list the examples of the best exercise for loose skin:

  • pelvic thrust
  • side bridge
  • deadlift
  • crunches
  • air bike
  • lying leg raises
  • squats.

Exercising brings effects only when repeated regularly. The first effects of strength training are visible after about 4 weeks, so you need to be patient and self-disciplined.

Lady with body lotion scrub

There are many cosmetics on the market that may help with skin elasticity. It is important to use them regularly

Cosmetics to improve skin elasticity

The cosmetics market offers a great variety of cosmetics improving skin elasticity. These are lotions, creams, moisturizers, emollients, lubricants, and many other forms. We would not advertise any specific brands here, but our advice is that you make sure the cosmetic you choose contains collagen and elastin. These are two substances that take part in the skin tightening process. Also, similarly to exercises, using cosmetics does not bring immediate effects – you need to use it regularly as recommended and wait a few weeks to see the first results. Lastly, if you read this article before your bariatric surgery or diet, you need to know that the sooner you start to use such cosmetics, the less loose your skin will be in the future. 

How to tighten skin after weight loss

If you have already lost much weight thanks to a regular diet or weight loss surgery, you may struggle with loose skin. Very often, this problem does not allow us to enjoy the weight loss results and makes us so upset that sometimes we regret losing weight at all. However, as we have already mentioned, there are effective ways of skin tightening. So, how to tighten skin after weight loss? Does loose skin go away? Yes, there are some ways of dealing with loose skin after bariatric surgery or diet, they include non-surgical and surgical solutions. Below, we briefly explain what options are available.

How to get rid of loose skin- home remedies

If you wonder how to tighten loose skin on stomach without surgery, we have great news. There are some tips for skin tightening that doesn’t involve any cost and are very easy to implement. These home remedies include drinking water, taking supplements, exercising, using cosmetics, and doing massages. 

Drinking water

We have already explained the importance of staying hydrated. Body hydration includes skin hydration of course.

Check how you can hydrate your skin easily:

  • drinking water (at least 2,5 liters a day)
  • using hydrating cosmetics (they should contain e.g. hyaluronic acid, urea, glycerin, panthenol or ceramides)
  • avoiding long hot showers
  • applying sunscreen
  • eating food rich in water.
Friends drinking water after workout during obstacle course

Drinking water and staying hydrated is a really important part of our lives, dehydration may lead to many health problems

When you stay hydrated, not only the skin condition is ideal. The other benefits of drinking enough water include normalizing blood pressure, aiding digestion, protecting tissues and organs, stabilizing heartbeat, carrying oxygen and nutrients to cells, and maintaining the balance of electrolytes. The first sign of dehydration is the feeling of thirst. It may be surprising but once we drink water regularly, we shouldn’t be thirsty at all. So, once you notice that you feel thirsty time and again, it is a sign that you are dehydrated.

Taking supplements

Supplements are also a good solution for skin tightening. However, they should never be used as an alternative to a healthy diet and vitamin-rich food. They are just the added value to our diet. It doesn’t matter whether we look for supplements which would prevent skin loosening or which would help already loose skin, we should always choose the best collagen supplement for sagging skin. Collagen is what keeps our skin tight, so it should be the main ingredient of the supplement. If you wonder which type of collagen for sagging skin to choose, you may ask a chemist, beautician, or dermatologist to recommend some. Only a specialist has enough expertise to advise you on the best type of collagen for sagging skin and joints.

Exercise

Exercise for loose skin is extremely effective. In fact, when we exercise before and during the dieting period, we can totally block skin sagging. The most problematic body part is the stomach – when obese people lose much weight, there may be dozens of kilograms of loose skin there. Hence, exercise for loose skin on stomach is particularly important. The best exercise for loose skin are strength exercises – so the ones that build the muscles, e.g. with the use of dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, or resistance bands. To get the optimal and effective training, we recommend consulting a personal trainer or watch training tutorials done by specialists, then our exercise for loose skin after weight loss would give maximum results.

Skin tightening creams / firming creams

If you expect to find skin tightening cream for a stomach that would make your loose skin firm after you lost dozens of kilograms, we must tell you that you will never find it. The effects of such creams cannot be as spectacular as the effects of exercising or supplements, not to mention cosmetic procedures. However, we still recommend using such cosmetics – they are a perfect complement of other activities aiming at skin tightening. If the amount of loose skin is small or moderate, cosmetics may be very effective.

See which cosmetics are worth considering:

  • use cosmetics containing collagen and other skin-repairing substances
  • use sunscreens with at least 25 SPF
  • use cosmetics containing either BHA or AHA
  • use cosmetics rich in Vitamin A.

These types of cosmetics have been tested and their effectiveness is proven and once you have realistic expectations towards them, it is definitely worth trying some.

Massages

Midsection of female therapist giving back massage to shirtless

Massages for loose skin are very helpful. It is recommended to have massage sessions once or twice a week to achieve a better result

Massages for loose skin are very helpful. They relieve stress, loosen the tight muscles, improve blood circulation, and boost skin elasticity. The properly done massage makes that nutrients are delivered to all body parts, including the skin. Not only specialists are able to tighten loose skin with massage, you or your partner can also do it. The rule is that the problematic body part is massaged with slow circular movements which should be so deep that they reach muscles as well. You may apply some skin tightening cosmetics, oils (the best is coconut oil), or lotions, but not much because your hands would be slipping, not pushing. It is recommended to have such massage sessions once or twice a week

How to get rid of loose skin after weight loss without surgery?

All the methods described above boil down to a healthy lifestyle and home rituals. They work excellent for small skin sagging and may be helpful for moderate sagging. But to be sure that your skin will get tightened, you may try a highly effective professional method of loose skin removal without surgery. Namely, it is laser skin tightening, which brings great effects for moderate skin sagging. So, if you wonder how to get rid of loose skin after weight loss without surgery, you should try this procedure.

Laser

Skin tightening laser is a very frequent cosmetic procedure. It allows to reduce sagging skin from almost each body part. Whether you look for a stomach skin tightening laser, neck skin tightening laser, or thigh skin tightening laser, you may expect great results after this treatment. 

Skin tightening laser treatment is non-surgical and non-invasive, it is also totally painless. Some patients say that they feel very relaxed during the procedure because the laser gives a pleasant feeling of heat.

There are 3 main types of laser, but it is impossible to say what is the best skin tightening laser. Each type is just different and is usually chosen depending on the involved body parts. 

  • Ultrasound – this procedure uses the ultrasound energy which heats the skin – it reaches very deep skin layers. It stimulates collagen production, which results in firmer and more elastic skin. The treatment is performed with a handheld device which delivers the waves to deep skin layers and lasts up to 90 minutes. The results are immediate, but at the beginning, they are not visible to the naked eye, usually, the results become visible after 2-3 months. 
  • Radiofrequency – it is a form of radiation where the energy is released in the form of electromagnetic waves. The treatment involves using a handheld device that heats the skin and triggers the production of collagen. To achieve the desired skin tightening, there needs to be a series of 2-6 treatments performed with weekly breaks. 
  • Radiofrequency microneedling – it is the combination of two popular cosmetic procedures. Microneedling entails using the device with pins or needles which makes small punctures in the skin – it provokes collagen and elastin production. Then, the radiofrequency waves are delivered. Thanks to such a combination, the results are really substantial. 

The skin tightening laser treatment is really effective for moderate loose skin. Combined with a healthy diet, supplements, exercising, and massages, it can totally eliminate problematic skin. What we recommend is that you visit a beauty clinic which hires only certified doctors and beauticians because only when properly performed, laser treatment is effective. Skin tightening laser cost varies from clinic to clinic, generally it is rather cheap, however, sometimes a few regular treatments are needed. Also, when there is a lot of sagging skin, it might be ineffective and then, only plastic surgery may help.

Surgical options for loose skin – plastic surgery for loose skin

Skin removal surgery is recommended to patients who have lost much weight in a short time – mainly these are bariatric patients. When you are left with considerable sagging skin, the home and non-invasive methods would not bring results. The last resort is excess skin removal surgery. There are a few types of plastic surgery for loose skin – their character depends on the body parts that are involved. The most popular and most effective plastic surgeries are tummy tuck and body lift.

We describe them below.

If non-invasive methods don’t help for loose skin there are many plastic surgery procedures available that can help to achieve great results

Tummy tuck after weight loss

Tummy tuck after weight loss surgery is very popular and for many people, it is even recommended by the bariatric surgeon. Tummy tuck after weight loss is not as frequent mainly because the weight loss process is longer than after the surgery and the skin adjusts more easily. Tummy tuck (called abdominoplasty) is a surgery that removes the excess skin and tightens the muscles – it involves only the abdomen area. Once you consider having a tummy tuck for loose skin, read our article focusing on this surgery.

Body Lift after weight loss

Full body lift after weight loss is a more extensive surgery than a tummy tuck. It involves the abdomen, buttocks, and thighs – these are the most problematic body parts after weight loss. Similarly to a tummy tuck, it removes the loose skin and tightens the abdomen muscles. Since it is a serious surgery, you need to be in good health to be qualified for it. More details about body lift after weight loss are in an article dedicated to body lift, which is available on our website.

Cost of removing loose skin

The skin removal surgery cost is rather high as it is a complicated surgery performed under general anesthesia. The price of tummy tuck in the UK is 6000 GBP on average and the price for a body lift is 9000 GBP on average. Such a cost is too high for many people, but there is also one alternative. Namely, removing loose skin after weight loss surgery cost abroad may be much cheaper. More and more people decide to travel to such countries as Turkey, Poland or Mexico because they offer the surgery at a much lower cost. E.g. tummy tuck in Poland costs 3000 GBP on average and body lift cost is 4500 GBP on average. 

Summary

Loose skin after weight loss may be very problematic, but as we proved, it can be effectively treated. There are many home remedies for small sagging, cosmetic procedures for moderate sagging, and plastic surgeries for considerable sagging. Of course, not everyone faces this problem, some people avoid skin sagging even after bariatric surgery. Just remember that once it happens, it is not the end of the world. You have still made a huge achievement, which is significant weight loss, and tackling loose skin would just be the icing on the cake.

size plus couple cooking

Sources

“5 Effective Ways to Get Rid of Loose Skin after Weight Loss.” MaxedMuscle.com, 24 Nov. 2020, maxedmuscle.com/five-effective-ways-to-get-rid-of-excess-or-loose-skin-after-weight-loss/. 

“Eating Foods That Brighten and Tighten Your Skin.” The Woodruff Institute, 22 Feb. 2017, www.thewoodruffinstitute.com/eating-foods-brighten-tighten-skin/. 

“Five Belly Toning Exercises to Tighten Skin after Weight Loss / Fitness / Toning.” / Fitness / Toning, www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/fitness/toning/5-belly-toning-exercises-to-tighten-skin-after-weight-loss.html. 

Gardner, Stephanie S. “Tummy Tuck Surgery (Abdominoplasty): Procedure, Preparation, and Recovery.” WebMD, WebMD, 26 July 2019, www.webmd.com/beauty/cosmetic-procedures-tummy-tuck. 

June 19 2015 We all know that achieving the perfect body won’t happen overnight. “12 Steps to Tone up after Weight Loss.” DW Fitness First, www.fitnessfirst.co.uk/inside-track/fitness/12-steps-to-tone-up-after-weight-loss/. 

Rhue, Holly. “How Laser Skin Tightening Works.” ELLE, ELLE, 18 Mar. 2019, www.elle.com/beauty/makeup-skin-care/a26775392/laser-skin-tightening-treatment-guide/. 

“The Truth about Firming Creams: Paula’s Choice.” Eu.com, www.paulaschoice-eu.com/the-truth-about-firming-creams. 

“What Vitamins Are Good For Skin Tightening.” Makeupandbeauty.com, 15 Sept. 2020, makeupandbeauty.com/vitamins-good-skin-tightening/. 

Written By Pound Kakar On January 29. “How To Keep Your Skin Hydrated ( With 7 Simple Tips).” SkinKraft, 29 Jan. 2020, skinkraft.com/blogs/articles/how-to-hydrate-your-skin.

Klaudia Grabowska

Klaudia started to work for Clinic Hunter many years ago, just after graduating from the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin in Poland and since that time, this job has become her biggest passion and inspiration.

She has gained necessary expertise and experience by serving patients from all over the world (mainly the UK, Scandinavian countries, and the USA), taking an active part in numerous live and video trainings with clinics in Poland, Hungary and Turkey, participating in international medical tourism conferences and events, and completing internal Clinic Hunter courses. Now, Klaudia is an accomplished patient advisor specialising in such fields as dentistry, plastic and bariatric surgery and hair loss treatment. Her main idea is helping people nad making their lives better, that is why this job brings her so much satisfaction and joy.

In private, Klaudia is a bike-tour lover. She travelled to over 25 countries and many of them she visited by bike. However, now she spends every spare moment with her little son.

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