It may be hard to believe that there can be a down side to losing weight. However, weight loss can have unfortunate consequences for your skin. Weight gain contributes to loss of elasticity and strength in skin, so when weight is lost skin cannot effectively retract with it.
Sags & Folds
Skin can become loose if a large amount of weight is lost very rapidly. The result can be unsightly sagging and folds because it has gone from being stretched for a long period of time to suddenly not having any underlying fat layers. For individuals who gradually lose weight over a prolonged period using exercise and diet, skin sagging won’t be as much as an issue as those who make drastic diet changes or have experienced surgical procedures for the purpose of weight loss. There are a multitude of factors that determine how much sagging or folds you may experience. This includes, but isn’t limited to, age, region of your body where fat was lost, and the quality (i.e. elasticity) of your skin.
Hair requires protein in order to maintain itself as well as grow. With certain fad diets resulting in low protein intake, hair becomes more brittle and weaker. As a result, you become more susceptible to losing hair.
Sagging is a result of loosened skin, which contributes to an increase in friction between folds of skin. This can have painful consequences that can range from a mild rash to sores, which contribute to infection due to openings in the skin. Those experiencing folds should keep the areas clean and dry to prevent rashes from occurring. Common areas to pay attention include the buttocks, lower stomach, and under one’s breasts.
If weight is lost rapidly, the balance between your cholesterol and bile stored in the gallbladder can be disrupted. This can result in gallstones, which can cause severe pain in your upper abdomen, vomiting, nausea, and sometimes require surgery for removal.
Excess skin can make fitting into your normal clothes difficult, and many feel insecure or embarrassed about their body due to the skin itself.
Weak Fragile Skin
Certain diets that are low in protein can help you lose weight, but can have unintended consequences on the outer layer of your skin. Skin is made of proteins, so when you consume less protein it negatively impacts the elasticity of your skin. A good rule of thumb is pinching your skin on the back of your hand. If the skin stayed pinched once you let you, even when you move your fingers around, it indicates poor hydration and tone.
There are many steps you can take to combat loose skin. Below we’ve outlined just a few common steps many can take that help tighten skin to develop a look natural again.
Due to the loss of fat, you will need something to replace it to fill that old space. Weight training can help you build up muscle mass to aid you in filling out your skin again in a healthy manner. Mass will help tighten your skin up again.
By keeping yourself hydrated, you keep your skin hydrated by drinking 8 glasses of water a day. Moisturize often as well, and eat fruits and vegetables with high water content and vitamin C.
Body Contour Surgery
If over the course of a year or two you have not experienced improvement, you may qualify for a body lift surgery. Unfortunately since this is commonly done for cosmetic reasons, health insurance does not always cover this procedure. Also one surgery alone does not usually do the trick.
Dr. Steven Zimmet is the head of Zimmet Vein & Dermatology in Austin, Texas. The team at Zimmet Vein & Dermatology specializes in a broad scope of treatments ranging from skin and vein treatments to body contouring procedures.