Fitness Articles

The Weight-Loss Side Effect That No One Talks About

Will I Have Excess Skin Once I Lose Weight?

If you decide to pursue surgery, ask your family doctor for a recommendation. Don't be shy about interviewing multiple plastic surgeons until you find one you trust. You can search for a board-certified plastic surgeon in your area through the American Society of Plastic Surgeons website.

If you've experienced medical problems because of your excess skin, insurance will sometimes cover certain procedures. That's why it's important to see your doctor if you develop a rash, infection or strange odor in a skin flap. Not only can your doctor help diagnose the real culprit (for example, a fungal infection versus a yeast infection), you'll need documentation if you plan to pursue insurance approval for plastic surgery.

Amanda Gignac (POOKASLUAGH) recently recovered from abdominoplasty and panniculectomy surgery and shares the details of her decision and surgery experience on her SparkPeople blog. "I decided to go through with this surgery for two reasons," she explains. "The first had to do with health. My skin was severely damaged and the stomach muscles separated during my third pregnancy 10 years ago. For the last decade, I've dealt with constant skin infections, due to having very sensitive skin. In the last year, some of the skin that had been infected the most had started to change texture and color and I was worried about that. Plus, with my core muscles separated, many exercises were very difficult. My balance was always off, which contributed to back pain and hip, knee and ankle injuries. The second had to do with my mental health. I'd lost over 100 pounds and was at a healthy weight, but still felt like I wasn't really a success. I was still very self-conscious about my body all the time because of my stomach. I have stretch marks on many parts of my body, but I could live with that. No matter how much I tried, though, I couldn't come to love that extra skin on my abdomen or the way it made me look. It was holding me back from really feeling good about my weight loss."

Janet Gershen-Siegel (JESPAH) is quick to admit that her decision to pursue plastic surgery was partially driven by vanity. She documented her tummy tuck and breast lift in detail on her SparkPeople blog (here, here and here) and doesn't pull any punches when it comes to describing the grueling process of recovery. "It's been a few years and I am, overall, pleased with the results," she says of the surgery. "Even with some regain, my body shape is still better proportioned. That's essentially why I had it all done in the first place. I was (at the time) able to fit into medium-sized blazers, for example, but they would ride up my belly and hips as I had too much skin overhang. I also felt it was unattractive. The main thing that I think plastic surgery did for me was to make it harder, if someone had never met me before, to see that I had been over 300 pounds at one time." 
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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

  • 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
  • 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
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