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How to Tighten Loose Skin After Weight Loss? 4 Easy Ways 

Michael Garrico
Published by Michael Garrico
Last updated: October 5, 2022

Tightening skin after rapid weight loss can become a significant challenge. This is especially the case when people have a lot of weight to lose, and they manage to do so quite quickly.

But it can also happen to bodybuilders who, for one reason or the other, end up reducing muscle mass and leaving excess skin tissue.

As a personal trainer, I’ve had a few clients who had to deal with this saggy skin, and I decided to team up with a skin specialist to find out what’s behind it and what you can do.

Here’s what I found.

Quick Summary

  • Sagging skin is a common issue for people whose total body volume dramatically changes in a short space of time.
  • Lack of skin elasticity and excess skin can end up being quite a problem for people, especially with drastic weight loss.
  • Tightening skin after weight loss is possible to an extent using natural treatments, but in extreme cases, it may require plastic surgery.

Can Loose Skin Become Tight Again?

Pointing towards loose skin

Yes, loose skin can become tight again after you lose weight.

But in difficult situations, like after bariatric surgery, there can be a lot of excess skin that would require plastic surgery to remove.

The average person who has gone through a gradual and natural weight loss journey can deal with loose skin in natural ways.

And I’ll cover some of those below.

Your overall skin health and elasticity are the main contributing factors when it comes to skin tightening, and planning for these in advance can have a significant effect on your body image [1].

Loose Skin Vs Residual Fat Cells

One thing you have to keep in mind is a misconception a lot of people have.

In cases where people lose a lot of body fat, there can still be a significant amount of fat left beneath the skin. And it’s important to assess whether you’re looking at excess skin or residual fat [2].

This can be further complicated in women where skin expands during pregnancy leaving stretch marks behind. Those marks make it more visually difficult to tell the difference.

But if you feel the skin after weight loss and it’s more than just a few millimeters thick, then it’s more likely to be stubborn fat reserves.

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How Long Does It Take For It To Tighten?

Compressing belly fat

It’s generally a faster process with younger skin as there should be more natural elasticity.

With natural aging, our skin loses some of that elasticity, which makes it quite a lot more difficult to naturally treat loose skin [4].

After bariatric surgery, the amount of weight loss and extra skin can also be so significant that no amount of time will return it back to normal.

In that case, skin removal surgery will be the only option.

From my experience with patients that went through this process, I always recommend avoiding bariatric surgery.

What Causes It?

The most common cause of loose skin after significant weight gain is a lack of healthy skin elasticity. And the problem often starts with a breakdown of collagen and elastin fibers as the skin gradually stretches [5].

The other issue is that natural collagen production goes down over time, making it more difficult to achieve tighter skin after losing weight.

“Skin that is stretched beyond the normal level is known as hyperelastic skin. This occurs when there is a rapid increase in collagen, or the production of elastin becomes low, hence causing the skin to lose its capacity for elasticity.”

- Dr. Catherine Shaffer, Ph.D., news-medical.net

But there are ways to deal with the problem, and it should definitely not distract from your weight loss achievements.

Related articles:

Natural Treatments For Tightening Loose Skin After Weight Loss

Pouring a fresh glass of water

Tightening skin after weight loss is possible by sticking with just a few tips.

Prioritize Hydration

Your skin is a living organ, and it’s hugely dependent on water to make it plump and elastic. And that’s why you need to make sure you get the recommended amount of water intake every single day to reduce loose skin [6].

That means about 9 cups of water per day for women and 13 cups of water for men. You’ll be surprised how quickly this can help you improve your skin’s health.

Boost Your Protein Intake

One major component of your skin is a protein called collagen. Natural collagen production happens throughout the body but is particularly important in the skin [7].

To boost your collagen intake, you should consider using some good collagen powders for the best results.

To get a boost of collagen, you could eat more meat, especially fatty cuts, but a better option is to take a daily powder or liquid collagen supplement to tighten skin more effectively. 

Create A Daily Skin Care Routine

First of all, you’ll need to get into moisturizing your skin on a daily basis, ideally twice a day. You’ll need a cream that also delivers a lot of vitamin E, as this plays a key role in skin firmness and hydration levels as well [8].

Also, make sure that you use pH-neutral soaps and shampoos to reduce any harsh effects on the skin cells.

Increase Muscle Mass

Yes, it might seem strange to recommend weight gain after weight loss, but when you build muscle mass, it has a positive effect on your body. The added muscle volume will also fill out some of the loose tissue.

Gaining that strength can also help you deal with the physical and emotional challenges associated with a weight loss journey.

Medical Treatments For Tightening Loose Skin After Weight Loss

Medical professional drawing a mark

There are several types of body contouring surgery available for people who have gone through massive weight loss.

I’m not recommending any of these, as you’ll have to talk to your doctor and plastic surgeons about whether there are viable options.

Body contouring surgery often starts with liposuction to remove excess fat, but it can often leave hanging skin immediately after the surgery [9].

In some cases, surgeons will immediately put a plan in place to tighten skin.

It might involve a second surgery at a later date, but this can be a highly effective and fast way to deal with the problem.

FAQs

Does Your Age Influence Whether You Can Tighten Loose Skin?

Yes, your age can influence whether you can tighten skin tissue. From the age of 30, your body produces less collagen. And even a high-collagen diet can only provide that much of an effect on skin elasticity.

Will More Exercise Help With Tightening Loose Skin After Weight Loss?

Yes, more exercise will help with tightening loose skin after weight loss. Building up more muscle tissue can help fill the excess skin, and over the months ahead, it will help to naturally tighten the skin.

Take A Planned Approach To Excess Loose Skin

Whether you’ve gone through significant or gradual weight loss, you should always plan to deal with skin tissue that might become saggy. It certainly shouldn’t hold you back, but it can still be an issue for your body image.

One of the best things you can do is boost your skin's collagen reserves. That’s why I recommend that you try taking a daily collagen supplement to help with your skin health.

It can make a huge difference in your overall appearance at a time when you want to continue feeling your best.


References:

  1. https://www.forbes.com/sites/nomanazish/2021/08/28/how-to-improve-skin-elasticity-according-to-dermatologists/
  2. https://www.differencebetween.com/difference-between-loose-skin-and-vs-fat/
  3. https://www.womenshealthmag.com/weight-loss/a28483223/loose-skin-after-weight-loss/
  4. https://www.webmd.com/beauty/cosmetic-procedures-aging-skin
  5. https://www.news-medical.net/health/What-Causes-Hyperelastic-Skin.aspx
  6. https://www.ars.usda.gov/plains-area/gfnd/gfhnrc/docs/news-2012/water-an-important-part-of-a-healthy-winter-diet/
  7. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/collagen-synthesis
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7827176/
  9. https://www.realself.com/question/brownsville-tx-loose-skin-after-liposuction
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