After making healthy lifestyle choices for months, or even years, you've lost weight. But even though you've reached your goal weight, you still don't feel great about your body, and the culprit is loose skin. From extra flesh under the arms to a sagging pouch around the torso, loose skin can be uncomfortable and embarrassing, especially if your weight loss was rapid. How do you tighten this skin so that you can really feel that accomplishment, fit into the clothes you've pictured yourself in, and look as healthy as you feel? In this article you'll learn why skin becomes loose, how to tighten skin after weight loss, and also which creams and medical procedures will successfully tighten your skin.
Why Skin Gets Loose After Weight Loss
Skin is remarkably elastic. It stretches as we grow and shrinks as we lose weight. But it's not just a rubber glove keeping our bodies together. Your skin is an organ, and like other organs it is made up of cells. Different cells create layers in your skin, the outermost being the epidermis, which is constantly regenerating after losing dead cells. Under the epidermis there exists the dermis and subdermis which are comprised of elastic connective tissues, fibers, and blood vessels that allow your skin to stretch and bounce back.
When you lose weight rapidly, the elastic elements of your skin have lost the layers of fat that kept them stretched out over your body, and they haven't had time to adapt to your new shape. Imagine a balloon that gets popped. Initially the deflated rubber pieces are still stretched out, but give it some time and they will eventually shrink back to their original, pre-blown-up size.
In addition to losing weight, poor nutrition, dehydration, excessive sun exposure, and age can all have negative effects on the elasticity of your skin.
Steps to Tighten Loose Skin After Weight Loss
1. Keep The Weight Off
If you frequently gain and lose more than 25 pounds, this is considered yo-yo dieting. The stretching and shrinking is terrible for your body and skin. Crash diets and excessive exercising can quickly shed both fat and muscle, resulting in double-trouble for your skin. Crash dieting is rarely permanent, so this and yo-yoing often come hand-in-hand. Instead of losing and gaining weight over and over, make a few lasting lifestyle changes. Try to lose just 1-2 pounds of fat per week, and make sure your plan includes weight lifting so you can build lean muscle. This will help you lose weight, and keep it off for good.
2. Stay Hydrated
Hydrated skin is healthy skin. Water is a vital part of maintaining skin elasticity. You should be taking in at least two liters of water each day, from both food and drink. Also, if you're drinking that much water, you will be less likely to drink soda and other beverages that are loaded with unhealthy chemicals and empty calories.
3. Eat Plenty of Protein
Collagen and elastin are two ingredients that help keep your skin plump and elastic. Protein-rich foods like milk, legumes, cottage cheese, beans, seeds, fish and nuts contain collagen and elastin forming elements, and oils to help maintain skin health. If you can manage to squeeze 100-200 calories of protein in right after you workout, it will help build the muscle that will give you that toned appearance.
4. Take Care of Your Skin
You can get rid of dead skin cells and pump up circulation in your skin by exfoliating daily with a loofah and/or buffing cream. Using sea salt scrubs can also help tighten skin by encouraging increased blood flow. Other creams can hydrate and increase collagen and elastin in your skin with ingredients like aloe vera, yeast extract, soy protein, and vitamins C, E and A. For a more holistic approach, using the best vitamin C serum can tackle problems with your skin by moisturizing and protecting it from more damage.
Avoid harsh detergents like sulfates in soaps and shampoos. Sulfates are used in a lot of cleansers because they're inexpensive and they make lush lather. But sulfates can over-dry and irritate skin, making it less elastic. It's also very important to limit your sun exposure and stay away from tanning booths. Even though you may think it makes you look healthier, the process of boosting your melanin is torture for your skin. If you can avoid too much sun exposure, your skin will tighten more quickly.
If you're a swimmer, use soap and shampoos that are specifically designed to remove chlorine. Excess chlorine can dry out your skin, making it less elastic. Furthermore, it is important to note that hot water is not necessary to rinse away chlorine. Hot water can actually strip away natural oils, so use warm water instead.
When to Consider Surgery for Loose Skin
After substantial weight loss, your skin can take up to six months or even longer to tighten, so be patient. However, your skin can only be stretched so far before it loses its elastic ability. If it has been more than six months since you lost that last pound and these tips have failed to tighten your skin, you may want to consider having plastic surgery. This should only be considered in extreme cases, because like any surgery, there are risks. But if you've been carrying around sagging, chafing excess skin, those risks will likely be outweighed by the benefits. Talk to your doctor to find out if you could be a candidate for surgery. Those risks are outweighed by the benefits.
Author Bio: Sara Thompson is a copywriter for Northwest Weight Loss Surgery in Everett, Washington