After losing a lot of weight, what can I do to get rid of all the extra loose skin that is sagging on my body?
Congratulations on losing the weight! Your health is the most important reason to be concerned about your weight and being at a healthy weight is one of the most important factors for your overall health. However, for many, appearance plays a major role in wanting to lose weight, and get back in good physical condition. Losing a lot of weight, however, can lead to loose and saggy skin around areas of the body where fat was most deposited – in particular the belly, arms and thighs.
There are things you can do to decrease your chances of loose and flabby skin from weight loss, but there are also some factors that are out of your control. Knowing this, however, will help you form a game plan to increase your success to avoid having too much extra loose skin after finally losing all of the weight.
Factors out of your control that affects how your skin responds:
- Age. As we age, your skin loses some elasticity. So if you are younger, your skin may rebound more quickly.
- Genetics. Some people have a greater tendency to get stretch marks than others, depending on their genes. If you have the tendency for scarring and stretch marks, you may also have a tendency for slower skin rebound and recovery after weight loss.
- Length of time skin was stretched. The longer the skin was stretched, the longer it may take to recover.
Things you can control that will aid in skin recovery:
#1. Rate of weight loss. Losing weight with the plan to lose a safe, healthy amount of 1 to 2 pounds a week, gives excess skin time to rebound.
#2. What we eat. Foods high in nutrients and certain types of foods have been shown to aid in skin elasticity. Here are some foods that studies have found to influence skin elasticity:
- Foods higher in gelatin, such as broth made with real bones, or using recipes with gelatin powder. Gelatin is high in glycine and proline, which are amino acids that are an important precursor to the formation of collagen. Collagen is an important protein found in connective tissue and in skin. Eating these foods gives your body the ingredients it needs to aid in skin elasticity.
- Foods high in unsaturated fats. Skin cell membranes need these fats to keep functioning optimally and retain shape. Good sources are nuts, avocados, olive oil, flaxseed oil, and salmon.
- Fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C, such as strawberries and kiwi, mops up free radicals and repairs damaged DNA, but also helps the fats (mentioned above) to do their job. Vitamin C is also used for collagen production, which boosts skin firmness and fights wrinkling. Other sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, red bell peppers, papaya and cantaloupe.
- Pair vitamin C with zinc. Both of these nutrients are needed to make elastin, a connective protein in the skin that keeps it stretchy. Zinc can be found in oysters, beef, wheat germ, pumpkin and sesame seeds, dark chocolate and peanuts.
- Eat foods with isoflavones. Foods from soy contain high amounts of isoflavones, which are naturally occurring plant compounds (phytochemicals) and have been associated with less collagen breakdown. You can find isoflavones in soymilk, tofu, chickpeas, fava beans, and edamame.
- Water. Skin is the largest organ of your body, and without water it will not function at its best. Give it the best chance of recovery by drinking, from91 to 125 fluid ounces a day(according to the Institute of Medicine guidelines in 2004), and if you’re more active or in hotter climates, adjust accordingly. If you want to make this easier, make sure your urine is clear (not cloudy) and not overly yellow (unless you take B vitamins), but instead a pale-yellow.
#3. What we put on our skin. External skin care will also give skin the external moisture it needs to look its best. Dermatologists recommend using a hydrating moisturizer within 2 minutes of leaving the bath or shower to maximize the effects by allowing for more absorption during these times. You can also try massaging the loose skin to increase blood flow, and therefore, speed up the repair process.
If, following your weight loss, you have excess skin after you’ve tried the above and given it a good length of time to recover (at least two years), you may want to consider just loving yourself for the way you are and coming to peace with it, or if not, cosmetic surgery if the excess skin is bothering you.
Of course, I can’t leave this topic without saying that staying physically active is always going to help, and including aerobic conditioning with strength training will give you the best all-around body; physically, and appearance-wise.
Here is a basic shopping list for collagen building foods:
- Vitamin C: Bell peppers, strawberries, kiwi, papaya, citrus, broccoli.
- Zinc: Oysters, beef, mushrooms, sesame seeds, dark chocolate, peanuts.
- Isoflavones: Edamame, tofu, soy milk, chickpeas.
- Healthy unsaturated fats: Olive oil, flaxseed oil, seeds and nuts, salmon, wheat germ, avocado.
- All-around: Dark green leafy vegetables, purified water.