Fitness Articles

The Weight-Loss Side Effect That No One Talks About

Will I Have Excess Skin Once I Lose Weight?

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).
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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

    I have seen too many bad results from qualified plastc surgeons to even think about that track - but I actually rather linke my "flaps" and I have huge ones!! Too me they are my trophies - and often prove a talking point too!! No - my trophies will stay - and remind me NEVER to go back to those days!! - 5/3/2015 1:29:14 AM
  • I have lost 40% of my body weight and have loose skin on my arms, breasts, abdomen and thighs. It took 18 months to loose the weight at a rate of a little over a pound a week. At 55 years of age this is the first (and hopefully will be the only) time I've lost weight.

    My weight has been pretty stable for about 4 to 5 months now and I am seeing some improvement in the skin sagging. I'll take the improved health and well-being at the cost of loose skin! - 5/2/2015 12:51:21 PM
  • For years my body bounced back after losing weight but now at 57 my belly is hanging. This came as a huge surprise to me. My husband has had a hang-over (belly) since we dated and I don't hate his. I'm not sure what I think about mine. - 5/2/2015 7:45:52 AM
  • ACRWJL37, I saw your post about having problems with rashes I the folds of your skin. I used to have that problem doctor said it was yeast. In the past I used creams but found that organic coconut oil worked really well. - 4/27/2015 3:20:40 AM
  • This is a great article and maybe my biggest deterrent to loosing weight, so now I will have to change that mind set and accept loose skin and know healthy body is better .... - 1/30/2015 9:55:40 PM
  • I made the decision to have brachioplasty and tummy tuck after losing 125 pounds. No regrets. I could stand to have more done, but I'm happy with what I've already had done! - 1/1/2015 10:40:11 PM
  • When I was in my early 30's I lost 82 or 92 pounds. It took 18 months on Weight Watchers. I had no lose skin. I gained everything back in less than a year.....and continued to gain, lose some gain etc. fr the next 20 years or so. When I retired in 2010 I knew I needed to do something. Entire lifestyle change led to a loss of 100 pounds! Yay! BUT, yes, now I have extra skin. Arm wings......thigh skin....and some tummy stuff. Unexpected and somewhat disappointing. ..but it isn't anything I can't cover up! I am so much healthier and look great in clothes. - 12/31/2014 8:23:04 AM
  • My excess is not extreme, but when I do notice it, I try to remember "that used to be full of fat" and suddenly it seems like a blessing. It's not perfect, but it's still an improvement over where I was. - 12/30/2014 11:26:58 PM
  • Talcum Powder in the creases! It helps absorb sweat and keep the skin drier. It was recommended to me by my doctor to help keep from breaking out, I have a scar from a C-section under my floppy belly. It gets irritated and sometimes raw and red. My doctor told me to put the powder on after I got out of the shower and before I got dressed. It has helped so much. - 12/30/2014 3:07:05 PM
  • ACRWJL37
    I have had a sagging stomach for years, I know that no matter how much weight I lose, it will still be there. I get rashes, and gooey in the fold. I use cortizon-10. It helps for a while.
    The odor is awful sometimes,. I wash with deororant soap and hope for the best. I also notice tight pants increases the problems, as it tends to make me sweat there. I am old,76,
    dieting all my life. I don't wear shorts or sleeveless clothing. My health is the goal for me now. I love playing with the menus and recipes on Spark. Good luck to everyone. - 9/15/2014 3:03:06 PM
    Lol, I thought this was going to be about all the excess gas you pass, after losing a lot of weight, because of all the fiber you have to keep on eating everyday......... do have a lot more gas. - 9/14/2014 1:10:11 PM
  • I am now 73 years old and had RNY surgery at age 64. Lost 125 pounds, stopped losing for 6 years and have begun losing again with a current loss of 10 pounds. Still have 47 more to reach the ideal. If I do, great, if not, I am so happy with my mobility and health now. I was so happy to see this topic presented. Yes, I have the apron, the flabby arms and thighs and I am not eligible for insurance coverage, so cosmetic surgery is not an option. I have learned to look at life through the positives instead of catastrophysing (s). My food choices are based on what's healthy and I do strength training at the gym 2 to 3 times/week. My goal is quality of life. Thank you to all this who wrote comments. It's so nice not to feel alone with this issue. - 9/14/2014 12:45:04 PM
  • There has been a lot of recent progress on using RFAL, lasers and ultrasound to increase collagen, which will help skin shrink. Some websites report as much as 40% shrinkage. I am doing a lot of research before I decide on a treatment and I'm looking forward to more info about that online. - 9/4/2014 2:31:01 PM
    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

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