Those magic “I lost X pounds!” ads aren’t telling you the full story. Many people expect that their bodies will look and feel completely different after a dramatic weight loss. They hope to fit back into their “skinny” jeans and be able to show off their bikini bodies on the beach.
But, depending on how much weight you lose and a few other factors, you might not be quite ready to pull on your old jeans or hit the beach in a tiny swimsuit. One of the biggest “secrets” about weight loss is that it often leaves behind loose, sagging skin. That skin can get in the way of your goals and plans for your life after losing the weight. The good news is that there are things you can do about it.
What Happens to the Skin After Weight Loss
Not everyone who loses a few pounds ends up with loose skin. Usually you don’t have to worry about developing sagging skin unless you’re losing a significant amount of weight, much more than 10 pounds. Your age and the elasticity of your skin also play parts in determining how much, if any, excess sagging skin you end up with.
How long you carried the extra weight also plays a part in determining how much loose skin you get. The longer you were carrying the extra pounds, the more time the skin had in that stretched out position, so the less likely it is to return to its initial size and shape.
What’s the Deal with Loose Skin
One of the biggest issues people have with having sagging skin in their abdomen, arms, hips or thighs after weight loss is that it makes fitting into clothing a challenge. Since you lost so much weight, you most likely expected that your clothing size would drop as well. When there’s a lot of extra skin, you might find you’re at or near your pre-weight loss size. That extra skin can also make fitting into clothing tricky. You now have bumps and bulges to do deal with that weren’t there before.
Loose skin doesn’t only make dressing and feel confident a challenge. It can also cause some skin problems. The folds of skin create an ideal environment for yeast and bacteria to thrive, increasing your risk for infections and irritation. You might get relief by sprinkling the skin with baby powder to help absorb some sweat.
What to Do About Loose Skin
What you do about loose skin after weight loss depends on how much of it you have and how much it bothers you. You might find that wearing compression garments helps smooth and shape your figure. But if you have a lot of extra skin, a compression garment alone might not be sufficient. In some cases, a surgical procedure, such as a body lift, is the best option.
How Body Surgery Can Help
The goal of body surgery is to restore a more trim and youthful appearance, usually by cutting away extra, loose skin and tightening the muscle underneath. The type of body surgery that’s more appropriate for you depends on how much extra skin you have, where it’s located, and what your goals are. For example, if you’re primarily concerned about a droopy tummy, a tummy tuck, which tightens the underlying muscle and trims away excess skin in the belly area, might be your best option.
If you want more dramatic results or have a greater amount of loose skin all over, a body lift might be a better pick. During a body lift, the surgeon removes extra skin and fat from the tummy area, as well as from the hips and back. In some cases, a body lift can include or be combined with an arm lift surgery to help create more toned-looking upper arms.
Liposuction Might Help, Too
One of the other surprises of dramatic weight loss is that many people are left with unexpected, stubborn deposits of fat. That fat seems to resist any exercise or dietary changes. If that is your experience, you might consider liposuction along with or instead of a body lifting procedure.
A surgeon can perform liposuction on a wide range of areas, including the thighs, tummy, back and upper arms. You can choose to have the surgery in just one area or in several, depending on the amount of fat you have and what you hope to get out of the procedure.
If you’ve recently lost a significant amount of weight, congratulations! If you’re looking to put the finishing touches on your new body and hope to get a trim, youthful appearance, Dr. Paul Vitenas, a board certified plastic surgeon in Houston, Texas, can help. Call 281-484-0088 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Vitenas today to learn more about your surgical options after weight loss.