Weight loss is a process. If you have found the perfect diet and exercise routine to shed off excess fats, congratulations! Once the excess fat is gone, the next problem you are going to face is sag skin. It is a problem for many people who have lost weight. The skin on the belly, arms, face, and love handles become sag and unsightly.
Factors Affecting Elasticity of the Skin
Some factors can greatly affect the elasticity of the skin. These are the following:
- Period of time – If you have been overweight or obese for a long period of time, the skin is stretched for a long time that one you lose fats, the skin will sag. It indicates that the collagen and elastin are already damaged.
- Amount of weight loss – Losing a few amounts of weight will not have a drastic effect on the skin. However, for massive weight loss in just a short period of time, the skin will have a hard time shrinking back, causing a massive loosening of the skin.
- Age – The elasticity of the skin can be affected by age. Younger people have elastic skin because collagen is abundant in the body. On the other hand, older people tend to have saggy skin because of collagen depletion.
- Exposure to heat of the sun – The sun has a damaging effect on the body, especially to the skin. Prolonged sun exposure can hamper the production of collagen and elastin, leading to loose and wrinkled skin.
- Smoking – Vices such as smoking cigarettes can deplete the body’s collagen production leading to wrinkled and sagging skin. (1)
Things to do to prevent Sagging
Fortunately, there are things you can do to prevent sagging skin during weight loss. These are the following:
Devote your time exercising
One of the best ways to prevent sagging skin during weight loss is exercise. It is a must to perform weight training exercises to be able to build muscle mass. The skin is naturally elastic, but the excessive buildup of fat can distend the skin for a long time, causing the skin to lose its ability to shrink. Once the skin does not shrink back, it would result in sagging skin. It is the reason why extremely obese individuals are highly encouraged to perform the exercise and make it a part of the weight loss routine. That way, the fats you lose will be replaced by muscle mass.
One particular exercise that is good for preventing sagging of the skin is cardio exercise. These are sets of exercises that target the cardiovascular system. Examples of cardio exercises are walking, jogging, running, cycling, and swimming. Such a type of exercise is not only good for weight loss and prevention of sag skin; it is also good for the entire body. However, you have to be careful not to overdo it. Too much cardio exercise can lead to rapid weight loss which can increase the possibility of developing sagged skin. The best thing to do is to lose weight at a steady pace, which is around two pounds per week. (2)
Lose weight gradually
Many people are into a fad diet, which will enable them to lose weight in just a short period of time. Massive weight loss might be good, but it comes with a few side effects and one of which is sagging skin. To prevent sagging skin during weight loss, you have to lose weight at a healthy pace. Fad diet and too much exercise can lead to rapid weight loss, which cuts not only fats but muscles too. The ideal weight loss should be around two pounds of fat loss per week. You also need to make sure you follow a healthy weight loss routine such as proper diet and weight lifting exercise. (3)
Work on your muscles
Once you lose excess fat, the next thing you have to do is to work on your muscles. That way, the fat will be replaced by muscle mass, thereby preventing sagging of the skin. Toned and tight muscles make the skin firm and healthy. Perform routines that target a particular muscle group as it will not only prevent skin sagging but also amp up the calorie-burning ability of the body.
When working on your muscles, you should perform not only cardio exercises but also weight lifting and resistance training. When working your muscles, you should also increase your intake of protein-rich foods. A combination of exercise and a proper diet can lead to a stronger, firmer, and tighter skin. (2)
Loose and sag skin is unpleasant to the eyes, especially if they are on visible areas of the body. You can prevent them from being too obvious by applying firming creams. They can improve the appearance of loose skin, especially in the exposed areas of the body. If you are going to search around, you will notice that there are many firming creams available in the market. Narrow down your choice by choosing firming creams packed with a retinoid. They can prevent the formation of free radicals in the skin. (4)
Another way to prevent sagging skin during weight loss is by taking supplements. Some supplements can significantly improve the firmness and appearance of the skin. They include the following:
- Protein – It is rich in amino acid, specifically lysine and proline, which are the vital building blocks of collagen production.
- Collagen – It is essential for healthy and younger-looking skin. It prevents sagging of the skin as well as the premature formation of wrinkles and fine lines.
- Vitamin C – For the body to synthesize collagen, it needs vitamin C. Many collagen products are paired with vitamin C. So, they might as well look for collagen supplements with vitamin C content.
- Gelatin – It is a collagen derived from animals. It is an excellent source of glycine, which is the body’s collagen-building block. (5)
Protect your skin from the direct heat of the sun
The harmful effects of the sun can destroy the skin’s collagen. Prolonged exposure to the heat of the sun can damage the tone and integrity of the skin. So, when trying to lose weight and want to include walking, jogging, or running as part of the weight loss routine, you need to plan your activity. Early morning or late afternoon walk is the best as during such time the sun is less scorching. If you can’t help going out even if the sun is shining bright, you should slather on sunscreen or wear protective clothing.
Increase your intake of produce
Fruits and vegetables are good for weight loss, especially when the integrity of the skin is at stake. Increase your intake of products rich in vitamin A and lycopene. Examples are tomatoes, bell peppers, citrus fruits, and green and leafy vegetables. Vitamin C-rich produces increases the production of collagen, a substance that keeps the skin firm and moisturized.
The power of a good massage
Don’t you know that a simple massage on target areas of the body can increase the flow of blood and evoke the skin’s anti-aging response? When trying to lose weight, you have to massage the areas where weight loss is evident such as the arms, thighs, waist, and area under the breast. You can use scrubs to massage the areas to significantly improve the integrity of the skin. (6)
The integrity of the skin can be affected by cigarette smoking. In fact, even second-hand smoke can have a drastic impact on your skin. It raises the inflammatory proteins in the skin leading to a reduced level of collagen. It is the reason why smokers are more prone to premature wrinkling of the skin. If you are overweight/obese and you lose weight, the more the skin gets thickened and wrinkled. If you want to avoid or at least somehow limit the sagging of the skin, you need to ditch your cigarette and even stay away from people who smoke. By doing so, you are doing something good for your skin and health.
Water is essential in keeping the skin healthy. So, when trying to lose weight, you have to load your body with all the good stuff to keep it hydrated – water, natural fruit juices, and healthy drinks. Keep in mind that if you are losing weight, you are not just losing unwanted fats but also water. So, you need to supply your body with the fluid it needs to keep it going and maintain the elasticity of the skin. Ideally, you should take at least two liters of water every day. You should as well increase your intake of fruits and vegetables loaded with natural fluids such as watermelon and cucumber.
Take care of your skin
Skin nourishment plays a vital role in preventing sagging of skin during weight loss. A particular part of the skincare routine is exfoliation to get rid of dead skin cells and moisturizing to keep the skin smooth and hydrated. For sagging skin, especially in weight-loss areas, you have to apply skin tightening creams. When choosing skin tightening creams, you should choose the one loaded with natural ingredients such as soy protein, aloe Vera, yeast extract, hyaluronic acid, and essential vitamins A, C, and E.
Skin brushing is an exercise for the skin. Brush your skin using natural bristles. The purpose of skin brushing is to improve the circulation of blood and eliminate toxins and waste productions, which are the culprits for cellulite in the body. Skin brushing should be done for at least 10 minutes every morning during your weight loss journey. (6)
Boost the body’s collagen production
Collagen is what makes the skin firm and elastic. To prevent sagging of skin while losing weight, you have to load up the body’s supply of collagen. You can do this by using topical body firming creams packed with collagen. You can also take collagen supplements. You have to be wary, though, as not all products containing collagen are genuine. So, you have to do your research well to make sure you are buying genuine collagen products.
- People who lose a lot of weight may have severe sagging of the skin. The sagging skin is too stubborn to be get rid of using the procedures mentioned above. To be able to prevent sagging skin during weight loss cosmetic procedures have to be performed, which include the following:
- Chemical peeling – The outer layer of the skin is removed, which will help decrease the appearance of loose and sagging skin. It also prevents the premature formation of wrinkles on the face and neck.
- Skin tightening using ultrasound – This procedure stimulates the production of collagen with the use of focused ultrasound energy. It is transmitted through the surface of the skin and targets the deeper layer. As the fat is shed off, the skin is tightened, thereby preventing the possibility of sagged skin.
- Ablative laser resurfacing/Laser peeling – It is somewhat the same as the chemical peel in the sense that it gets rid of the topmost layer of the skin. The only difference is that laser peeling gently promotes the production of collagen as it warms the layer underneath the epidermis. As the fat is burned, the skin is tightened, thereby giving you a firm and toned skin.
- Radiofrequency treatment – This procedure promotes the production of collagen, but it targets more the outer layer of the skin.
A combination of IPL/RF treatment – it is a combination of intense pulsed light and radiofrequency. As a result, it heats both the outer and deeper layers of the skin, leading to more effective production of collagen.
- Neuromodulators/Botox – A botulinum toxin is injected into the skin to prevent wrinkling and sagging. Of all ways to prevent sagging skin during weight loss, this is by far the one that delivers instant results.
- Body contouring/tuck/lift surgeries – For people with severe fat loss such as those who are extremely overweight, the sagging skin is too impossible to manage using exercise and massage. In fact, even less invasive cosmetic procedures are not that effective in getting rid of sag skin. Many people resort to body contouring which involves an incision and removal of extra fats and even skin layer. There is downtime, and the patient needs to stay in the hospital for quite some time. (7)
Should you consider surgery for loose skin?
The skin has its natural ability to stretch. If you gain weight and store fats all over the place, the skin could stretch and stretch until it reaches a point where it couldn’t stretch further. The problem is that when you lose those fats, the skin will eventually lose its ability to shrink back because it has been stretched too much for a long period of time. The best remedy is surgery because no matter what you do, the skin can never go back to its pre-stretched condition. It will remain sag and unsightly to see, especially in the exposed areas of the body.
Although surgery can be the best remedy, it does not necessarily mean that you are automatically a candidate. A thorough medical check-up and assessment have to be done to make sure you are eligible for surgery. It is, at the end of the day, under the discretion of the doctor. If you have an existing medical condition, which could put your life at risk when performing surgery, you might not be eligible for surgery. You would resort to other means of getting rid of sag skin such as a non-invasive cosmetic procedure.
As the line goes, “prevention is better than cure.” So, you have to carefully watch your weight and do the necessary management and prevention. Being overweight or obese does not only have health implications, but it also has a cosmetic effect. We all want to look pleasing, and a part of being pleasing is having a healthy weight and skin.
If you are trying to lose weight and concern about sagging skin, the best thing to do is to consult a weight loss expert. Losing weight itself is a challenge. More so, if you are going to tackle stubborn sagging skin. With a weight-loss expert at your side, you will have a guide, support, and mentor. He/she can assist you with the things you need to do and should not do to lose weight at a healthy pace.