Fitness Articles

The Weight-Loss Side Effect That No One Talks About

Will I Have Excess Skin Once I Lose Weight?

497SHARES
Studies show that the vast majority of people who lose 50 percent or more of their body weight (whether through surgery or lifestyle change) report being unhappy with their bodies later. Why? Because even after all the work and the weight loss, losing that much body fat usually results in excessive amounts of loose skin on the abdomen, arms and thighs. However, medical experts agree that the health benefits of losing weight far outweigh any potential problems that might be caused by excess skin.

Does Everyone Have Loose Skin after Losing Weight?
Thankfully, no! There are many factors, including age and genetics, that determine how much your skin will "snap back" after weight loss. The younger you are when you lose weight, the easier it will be for your skin to adapt. As we age, our skin naturally loses elasticity, and this is exacerbated by things like sun exposure and even gravity. (Try avoiding that one without becoming an astronaut!)

The amount of weight you lose and whether your weight has cycled dramatically throughout your lifetime will also play a role in how your skin looks. There is no scientific evidence to the popular advice that losing weight slowly will prevent skin from sagging, so focus, instead, on losing weight at a pace that works for you and your body.

What Can I Do if I Have Loose Skin after Losing Weight?
The only way to really get rid of excess skin is to have it surgically removed. If you've maintained your new weight for 12-24 months but still have excess skin, you can safely assume that it won't shrink more on its own. Body-contouring surgery can address one or more problem areas. Common procedures include:
  • Panniculectomy: This procedure, which is sometimes covered by insurance, removes hanging skin from the abdomen. It's often performed along with an abdominoplasty.
     
  • Abdominoplasty: Also known as a tummy tuck, this option removes hanging skin from the abdomen and tightens the underlying abdominal muscles. It is usually not covered by insurance.
     
  • Belt Lipectomy: This "body lift" removes excess skin on the thighs and buttocks.
     
  • Medial Thigh Lift: Removes excess skin from the upper leg.
     
  • Mastopexy: Removes excess skin from the breasts and tightens the surrounding tissue.
     
  • Brachioplasty: Removes excess skin from the upper arms.
As with any kind of surgery, body-contouring procedures are not without risk. Full recovery can take many months, and it's usually necessary to take 2-4 weeks off work (more if you have a physically demanding job). There will certainly be pain, bruising, swelling and long-term scarring. Other risks include infection, asymmetry, uneven scarring, tissue death and seroma (a lump caused by fluid buildup in tissue).
Continued ›
Page 1 of 5   Next Page ›
497SHARES

Advertisement -- Learn more about ads on this site.

More Great Features

Connect With SparkPeople

Subscribe to our Newsletters

About The Author

Megan Patrick Megan Patrick
Megan Lane Patrick has been a professional writer and editor for the past 16 years, and was a chronic dieter for at least 30. A combination of weight-loss surgery, mindful eating and daily exercise finally allowed her to maintain a weight loss of more than 100 pounds. When she's not lifting weights at the gym, you can find her walking shelter dogs as a volunteer for the SPCA.

Member Comments

  • SUSIEQUE62
    13 1/2 years ago I had gastric bypass surgery, I went from 270lbs to 120lbs and have maintained it all these years. I hated the way clothes fit after the weight lost because I had the hanging skin on the abdomen, legs and arms. 9 years ago I had to have a complete hysterectomy due to cancer so I was able to get a tummy tuck done at the same time. Unfortunately I still won't wear short sleeve or sleeveless clothes or shorts because of the arms and legs. Yes I am healthier but I still feel trapped in my body! - 6/20/2014 3:28:23 AM
  • A useful and realistic article for people who have lost or are attempting to lose large amounts of weight. Truth is, there will be extra skin when you get to goal. Mine is not too bad, though I'm less OK with it some days than others. For now, I've decided against surgery, since that seems like a drastic remedy -- plus I had a breast reduction some time back, and I know the road to recovery can be a painful one. (I don't regret the breast reduction at all -- but that was needed for back and shoulder pain, though -- the skin removal for me would be cosmetic only.) Of course, it's a different story for people whose extra skin interferes with quality of life, or is an actual health hazard - as can happen, for example, if one has a very large "apron" hanging from their abdomen, or if extra thigh skin interferes with walking. And of course there's nothing wrong with pure cosmetic surgery at all -- and I totally understand wanting to look svelte once you've earned it! -- it's just not for me, I think. - 6/19/2014 9:18:58 PM
  • I think janedoe12345 said it all we may not look like we did in our younger years BUT we will be healthier
    - 6/18/2014 10:12:59 PM
  • I ggot my points for reading this article before, but sometimes rereading an article can drive the lernung home. This one tells me that nothing is promised as fact, which I already knew, and that there are ways to help if help is necessary for health and well being. Big words need to be redvisited to doublecheck their meanings, and to understand them correctly. Like reading this article twice, a surgical procedure often needs a second look and a sdcond opinion just to be clear and sure of any decision that might be made. - 6/8/2014 1:47:50 PM
  • This down-to-earth article will be one of my favorites. It reminded me that a realistic goal will have a realistic result. I will never look like I was at 110 pounds, not after 40 years of food abuse.

    Now 62, it is time to face the fact that my weight loss (if and when!) will not solve every appearance problem I have. I will be healthier but I have to balance the positive results with my ridiculous memory/fantasy/se
    lf-delusion that I will be without hips or tummy or loose skin. I cannot revisit being a young filly, but I can at least become healthy.

    Great eye-opener of an article! - 6/8/2014 12:09:10 PM
  • Super article, thank you, featuring comments from some of my fave Spark friends too . . . It's gotta be a very individual decision which will be based upon myriad factors including cost (in both money and time), social pressures, age, child-bearing status and many more. Feeling comfortable in our own skins (excess or not!) is the goal. I'm with TINAJANE67, however, in reporting that (even at my age of 63 and over a decade after the major weight loss of 80 + lbs) a conscientious program of exercise and hydration plus good nutrition seem to me to be the biggest factors in encouraging skin resilience. - 6/8/2014 11:01:58 AM
  • Thanks for the great article and for including my comments in it. As a follow up, I should say that I actually have seen some improvements in my loose skin since I reached goal in March 2012, which is encouraging because time is marching on. It's almost undetectable on my upper arms, the area around my belly button is greatly improved and even my lower abdomen and inner thighs have tightened up noticeably. I just took some progress pictures and compared them to ones I took two years ago and can see quite a difference. Change is slow in coming, but I think being consistent in my eating and exercise habits and maintaining a relatively stable weight has helped in addition to the other things I mentioned in the article. Thanks again for this and to everyone else who shared their stories! - 6/8/2014 6:46:55 AM
  • Thank you for addressing the excess skin aspect of losing weight. Having a sagging stomach already, my subconscious is addressing fears of what will be when I lose that 100 pounds. This helps us to know what options are available.
    - 4/9/2014 7:36:38 AM
  • Eh...It's just skin. - 4/8/2014 8:56:02 PM
  • Okay this article depressed me. Now, I have visions of looking like a melting Michelin Tire Man. - 4/8/2014 6:53:38 PM
  • I am pleased to read this thorough article. I am 67, have lost 193.6 pounds to date, about 100 more to go. I am very lucky to have great skin, and my body is shrinking back well. I attribute this to sound nutrition, no smoking, Vit D supplement, no sun worship, Avon Skin so soft aqua gel lotion daily, and my heritage. As the story goes " love the skin you are in" I'm too old and have come too far to do anything different. - 4/8/2014 5:45:06 PM
  • I loved this article. I am a 54 year old and I have always had extra skin after my third child many years ago. I have thought about getting a tummy tuck but decided I would rather use that money somewhere else. I liked the idea of using shapewear because honestly that is what I do to smooth out the bumps. I have in a few years lost 40 lbs so with age gravity and just being a large framed woman the excess skin is here and it is going to stay. I have now been using weights for my arms and back. I stand tall and do crunches just to strengthen the muscles of my abdomen. I have a little loose skin under my neck I am still working on that.

    I just say love your body and if you want to alter it and have the funds to do so.
    If the money is not there then opt for shapewear it works too. - 4/8/2014 4:17:43 PM
  • Makes me glad I'm fairly young and have really good skin and only needing to lose about 25% of my weight (I've already lost some of that). - 4/8/2014 3:06:37 PM
  • Thanks for sharing! Part of it is becoming comfortable with ourselves, part of it is vanity, and part is an issue with finding clothes to fit. I find that with loose skin in the arms, legs and stomach, it makes shopping for clothes difficult. When I find a top to fit my arms, its typically too big everywhere else. I'm definitely contemplating skin removal. I don't think I'll ever have a flat stomach either....and I do lift weights and do core work and drink plenty of water. - 4/8/2014 11:41:18 AM
  • Good article. I've been wondering if a person has less stretched skin if they lose slowly instead of having something like a gastric bypass. - 4/8/2014 11:24:45 AM
Popular Calories Burned Searches: Archery / Hunting  |  Bobsledding  |  Construction