What To Do With The Extra Skin After Weight Loss.
When you work to lose a bunch of weight, you dream of a tighter, toned body. You don’t picture extra, loose skin. But that’s a real possibility, and one that can cause health problems and a poor self-image.
“It’s frustrating to patients who have put all this hard work and commitment into their weight loss journey and new bodies to be left with extra skin that doesn’t reflect that effort,” says Jason B. Lichten, MD, a plastic surgeon in Columbus, OH. “Often, they feel that their extra skin hangs on them the same way their old clothes from before their weight loss would, only they can’t take it off.”
It’s not just about your looks though. It can cause rashes, infections, and back pain. Plus it can stop you from being as active as you want.
Why Skin Doesn’t Snap Back
The elasticity of your skin depends on how long you were obese. It doesn’t matter if you dropped pounds quickly or slowly. The longer it was stretched out, the less likely it is to bounce back.
“It’s like a balloon,” says Marie Jhin, MD, a dermatologist in San Francisco. “When you first blow up a balloon, it’s really small and tight.” You have to stretch it first, she says. But when it’s deflated, it doesn’t return to its original shape.
A lot of it has to do with age and genetics, too, she says. “Everyone starts to lose [elastic tissue] as they get older.”
Bothers and Burdens
Saggy skin can not only be an embarrassment, it can lead to rashes and yeast infections in the folds.
“Perspiration gets trapped, and you can get a rash,” Jhin says. “I recommend powder or cornstarch. It will help absorb [the moisture].” Some people, she says, even put a little fabric underneath.
While compression garments can help, loose skin can also make getting in shape tricky. “Imagine strapping 30 to 40 pounds to the front of you,” says Jennifer Capla, MD, a plastic surgeon in New York City. “It changes your center of gravity. It’s harder to move.”