Wanna get rid of that loose belly skin? Struggling with saggy arms after losing weight? You’re not alone.
It’s not uncommon to see excessive skin remain after rapid or significant weight loss. And it can feel especially disconcerting because you feel like you’ve just reached the mountain top by losing the weight, and now there’s another hill to climb.
Depending on how much weight do you lose and the length of time in which you lose it, you may find your skin quickly snapping back or in some cases, you may find that it remains a bit stretched–which can cause discomfort and issues with body image.
Why doesn’t your skin just shrink again?
Excessive skin can be more common in some people. The ability of your skin to contract and bounce back after losing excess weight is dependent on many factors, including your baseline skin tone (determined by collagen and elastin fiber strength), your age, and genetics.
The amount of weight you have gained or lost, sun exposure, and lifestyle factors like smoking. Rapid, dramatic weight loss can shock your system so that your skin doesn’t have time to adjust to the new shape.
So what can be done about sagging alright extra skin? Well, it depends on the treatment that you prefer. There are non-surgical ways to help tighten your skin, though results will vary depending on how much weight you’ve lost.
And of course, there’s always the option of surgical procedure to remove the excess skin. Let’s discuss some of the at-home treatments has it’s always best to use surgery as the last option.
You can make small, easy changes at home to improve your skin’s appearance. Although at-home remedies can make a small difference in the appearance and feel of your skin’s texture, they may not fix the problem if you’ve lost a significant amount of weight (such as over 100 lbs).
1. Take collagen
Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies. It’s in our skin, bones, tendons, and muscles. More studies are showing that collagen can have a significant impact on the elasticity, firmness, and overall texture of the skin.
Collagen hydrolysate (aka “hydrolyzed collagen“) was shown in studies to skin elasticity, texture, and hydration levels after 12 weeks, via collagen supplement. It’s important to know that vitamins such as Vitamin E and C, in addition to Biotin and Zinc can also assist with improving skin elasticity.
You can supplement collagen with powder or tablets. According to a study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, women who consumed 10g of oral collagen peptides at bedtime saw an improvement in their skin’s structure and collagen levels after just four weeks. They also experienced better skin hydration after 8 weeks.
You can get collagen from chicken or beef-based bone broth. You can purchase the bones yourself and make the broth or simply buy it from your local grocery store.
Consuming bone broth (which is derived from bone marrow) is especially beneficial and effective when it comes to getting a good dose of collagen.
Bone broth is also all of the following:
- Vitamins A & K
- Fatty acids
In fact, many medical experts recommend taking this former collagen instead of supplements.
2. Consider body-contouring surgery
Unfortunately, there’s no magic cream that will immediately make your skin snap back into place. And if you lost over a hundred pounds, you may want to consider body contouring surgery. This surgery is common when there are extra folds of skin in areas including the buttocks, breasts, stomach, thighs, lower arms, and chest.
It’s also worth noting that many body contouring physicians will only perform the surgery if you’ve chapped the weight off for a specific amount of time, such as anywhere from 3 to 6 months, so it’s always best to check first.
Keep in mind that this surgery can leave scars, which can be covered with clothes or minimized with procedures such as micro-needling or laser removal.
3. Try skin firming creams
A quality skin firming cream can also assist in helping your skin go back to its natural state. Many creams contain elastin and collagen, which are the backbones of tight, supple skin.
Keep in mind that their effectiveness will depend on the overall condition of your skin, and how long the skin was stretched out. Skin that has been stretched out for long periods of time is less likely to bounce back as well as skin that’s only been stretched out for let’s say a few months (as opposed to years).
Things to look for in quality skin firming creams:
- Collagen & Elastin
- Vitamin B3
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Hyaluronic acid
Also, don’t expect to see your results right away. The average skin firming cream can take anywhere from two to three months to show visible results. And note that all skin firming creams are not equal, so be sure to take a look at the ingredients.
4. Do strength training exercises
Yes, strength training and physical activity can help you lose weight and build muscle–but it can also help with loose skin. The new muscles will fill in the skin and reduce sagging. You won’t need as much body fat after weight loss to make your skin look fuller. Strength training can help you build lean muscle and keep the weight off.
Lifting heavy weights can increase muscle mass and tighten the muscles, especially around the stomach, which can help reduce the appearance of loose skin. Include these exercises in your workouts at least two to three times each week:
- Weight training
- Resistance training
5. Make some diet changes
Changes to your diet is another way to help get rid of loose skin (or at least lessen it). Sure, you’ve already lost the weight. But a post-weight loss diet high in lean protein can help you build muscle fill in areas that are more prone to fat (such as the thighs, buttocks, and tummy).
For building muscle, it is super important to eat protein after strength training (such as a shake or protein bar).
Also, be sure to drink plenty of water to wash the protein down. Hydrated skin is more flexible and elastic than skin that has been dehydrated. Always stay hydrated while you’re working on a weight loss program. Anywhere from 64 to 100 oz per day should suffice.
6. Take antioxidants
Antioxidants and antioxidative proteins may be used to reduce wrinkles and skin sagging by neutralizing reactive oxygen substances (ROS). ROS compounds can activate pathways that eventually lead to the degradation of collagen.
Antioxidants may also stimulate collagen and elastin growth. Certain foods (such as green veggies, citrus fruit, and berries), drinks, or nutritional supplements (such as Emergen-C) contain antioxidants.
Here are a few specific supplements that you may want to keep on deck while you work on repairing your skin. These supplements in addition to regular exercise can help you speed things up.
- Vitamins A, C, E, and D
- Coenzyme Q10
- Fish Oil
- Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG)
When taking supplements, it is important that you follow the instructions on the label. To avoid unwanted side effects and interactions with other medications, if you have health conditions talk to your doctor before taking any new supplements.
7. (bonus) Wear compression clothing
Compression clothing can be used to prevent the negative side effects of having loose skin. Stockings, socks, waist dressings, and other garments hold loose skin together supporting it, reducing friction and any skin-to-skin contact. This can reduce irritation, pain, itching, as well as the chance of infection.