Weight Loss And Skin Care: How To Avoid Loose Skin During Weight Loss

Medically Reviewed by Patrick, MD, FACS
Written by Ramona Sinha, Certified Skin Care Coach

When you try to lose weight, you will notice that the entire process affects your skin in many ways. Don’t worry. We can help you with the right tips for skin care during weight loss. It is not an easy task to lose weight. But you have finally discovered a workout and diet plan that works for you. And, you have started to lose the weight you have been carrying for years.

Only one problem: your new, smaller body is covered by the same surface area, causing your skin to droop or lag. Your skin cannot keep up with weight loss. It will expand to fit your body and then compress to match it because it is elastic, but not if you lose weight too quickly. Thankfully, there are ways to prevent sagging skin throughout your weight-loss journey. Keep reading to know more!

Why Do You Get Loose Skin After Weight Loss?

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Your skin is made up of proteins like elastin and collagen. These two make up about 80% of your skin structure and help in keeping it firm and tight. When you gain weight, your skin expands to create enough space for the additional growth (just as it happens during pregnancy).

In case of pregnancy, after the child is delivered, the skin retracts naturally. However, obese people tend to carry the weight for years. The skin remains stretched for long, damaging the elastin and collagen, and does not retract easily after they have lost weight (1). And that’s the reason you get loose skin after weight loss.

Several risk factors influence the loss of collagen and elastin in your skin.

Factors Affecting The Loss Of Skin Elasticity

  • Time Period: If you have been obese or overweight for a long time, your skin will sag after you have lost the fat because of damaged collagen and elastin.
  • Amount Of Weight You Have Lost: If you have lost just a few kilos (say 5-7 kgs), it will not affect your skin. However, if your weight loss is massive (say 45 kgs), a significant amount of skin will loosen up.
  • Age: This is a crucial factor. Older skin has low levels of collagen and hence tends to loosen after weight loss (2).
  • Excessive Sun Exposure: Long time exposure to the sun hampers the elastin and collagen production in your body (3), (4). This may result in loose skin.
  • Smoking: This also hampers collagen production, resulting in sagging skin (5).

The good news is, there are ways you avoid excess loose skin during weight loss. Read on to know what they are.

Tips To Lose Weight Without Getting Loose Skin

  1. Do Not Hurry, Go Slow
  2. Focus On Building Muscle
  3. Follow A Balanced Diet
  4. Kick The Butt
  5. Water, Water, And More Water
  6. Take Supplements To Fill Any Gaps
  7. Try Skin Brushing
  8. Use A Good Sunscreen Whenever You Go Out
  9. Try Using Skin Firming Creams
  10. Consider Body Contouring Surgery

1. Do Not Hurry, Go Slow

In the race to weight loss, be the tortoise. When you are losing weight, it is important to take care that you do not end up losing more muscle mass and water (caused by glycogen depletion). Muscles help in holding up the skin. So, try to focus on losing fat and not muscle. Also, you tend to gain weight faster once the glycogen is restored. So, focus more on losing fat and not just muscle and water. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends losing between 1-2 pounds per week for the first six months (6). And afterward, it should be gradual.

2. Focus On Building Muscle

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Once you start losing weight, focus on building muscle mass to replace the fat you are losing. The tight and toned muscle under your skin is the foundation on which your skin will rest. So, while you work on shedding that flab from your body, try to build strength as well. This not only keeps your skin from sagging but also increases your rate of calorie burning, even when you are done exercising for the day. This furthers your weight loss goals. Talk with your trainer. He or she might suggest using machines, dumbbells, and bodyweight along with resistance training and high-intensity training for improving your metabolism and building muscle mass. For best results, follow a protein-rich diet along with your training (discussed in detail right below).

3. Follow A Balanced Diet

I know you have heard this a lot of times, but exercising is of no use if your body is not getting the required nutrients to stay healthy. Protein is essential for maintaining the elasticity of your skin, and collagen is the most important protein that you need to keep your skin from sagging. Your skin will not remain taut unless you follow a protein-rich diet. A high-protein diet also reduces your cravings. All your meals should be balanced and include a protein source, a fat source, and some veggies that are low in carbs. When it comes to protein, meat (chicken, beef, lamb), fish and seafood (trout, salmon, shrimp), and eggs (including the yolk!) are your best friends. For low-carb veggies, add spinach, broccoli, cabbage, kale, cucumber, lettuce, and cauliflower to your plate. Use oils such as coconut and olive oils, butter, and avocado to your diet. These are also excellent sources of antioxidants that will keep your skin in excellent condition.

4. Kick The Butt

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This is important. Because the more you light up a cigarette, the less resilient your skin becomes. Smoking severely affects your collagen levels; even second-hand smoking does severe damage to your health. It not only triggers inflammatory reactions and oxidative damage but also causes premature aging of your skin by reducing the collagen levels. And this has been proven by research (7).

5. Water, Water, And More Water

Here is another reason to drink more water. Other than its contribution to weight loss and your energy levels, your skin’s elasticity and its appearance depend a lot on your hydration levels. A study found that increasing water intake can significantly improve the hydration levels of your skin and its overall functions (8).

6. Take Supplements To Fill Any Gaps

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Your diet should strike the perfect balance between essential vitamins and nutrients to promote weight loss and maintain your overall health. However, it is often not possible to get all the nutrients your body needs through your diet. To bridge that gap, you have to take additional supplements. Now, the question is, what supplements can you consider? You can take gelatin supplement as a study showed that it helped in improving the elasticity of the skin (9). Fish oil is also said to improve skin elasticity in women (10). So, if you do not consume fish, you can take fish oil supplements. You can even take collagen supplements. Remember to talk to your nutritionist and doctor before taking any additional supplements.

7. Try Skin Brushing

This is a kind of exercise for your skin. You can use a brush with natural bristles and a long handle to brush your skin. This improves circulation and eliminates all the toxins and wastes that are responsible for the extra cellulite in your body. Ideally, skin brushing should be done 5-10 minutes every morning while you are undergoing weight loss. In fact, you should continue doing this even after you have lost weight as it keeps your skin firm and taut.

8. Use A Good Sunscreen Whenever You Go Out

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You might wonder what this has to do with tightening loose skin. The sun rays can cause the breakdown of collagen, which makes your skin lose its elasticity faster. So, in case you want to run every day, plan it during morning or evening as the sun is less scorching during these times. Also, slather sunscreen lotion on the exposed parts. Make sure that you are buying a cream with a broad spectrum.

9. Try Using Skin Firming Creams

Most of the skin firming creams contain elastin and collagen. They often lift your skin and tighten it. This is because your skin can readily absorb collagen and elastin.

10. Consider Body Contouring Surgery

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This is only for those who have lost a tremendous amount of weight via any weight loss methods or surgery. Such patients often undergo body contouring surgery to remove the excess skin. During this surgery, the doctor will make an incision in your body and remove the excess fat and skin. The incision is sutured for minimizing scarring. Popular body contouring surgeries include tummy tucking or abdominoplasty and arm lift or brachioplasty.

Overexposure to the sun, age, and overstretched skin due to being overweight can damage the skin’s elasticity, which results in your skin sagging after significant weight loss. Gradually losing weight, building muscle, eating a balanced diet, and drinking plenty of water are some tips you must incorporate into your skincare during the weight loss journey. If you have lost a lot of weight and your skin is still sagging after following the above tips, you can opt for body contouring surgery. Consult a doctor for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does skin glow after weight loss?

Consuming healthy food, taking all the necessary nutrients, drinking enough water, and exercising for weight loss may help improve the skin as well. Following these practices may give an extra boost of glow to your skin after weight loss.

Does the face change after weight loss?

Yes, your face can show changes after weight loss. In some cases, losing weight may make the skin sag and cause wrinkles. That is why it is essential to follow a proper skin care regimen while trying to lose weight.

Does weight loss cause dull skin?

Weight loss may cause dull skin if you have been severely controlling calories. However, healthy weight loss practices will not make your skin dull.

Will dark skin go away after weight loss?

Dark skin may not go away after weight loss. However, in the case of obese people, the dark patches on the body may become lighter after weight loss.

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Patrick

(MD, FACS)
Dr. Patrick Hsu is a board-certified plastic surgeon and reconstructive microsurgeon in Houston and the founder of Memorial Plastic Surgery.... more

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