What Do I Do About Loose Skin After Bariatric Surgery?

Loose skin. It’s a phrase that strikes fear in people who aim to lose large amounts of weight. People see pictures of those who have lost 100+ pounds, either through diet and exercise or through weight loss surgery, and after seeing the loose skin, it’s common to wonder if going through with the weight loss is worth it.
But loose skin is, and should be regarded as, a temporary problem that does not outweigh the immense benefits of being at a healthy weight. Here is what you can do about loose skin.

Why Do People Get Loose Skin After Bariatric Surgery?

It’s a typical byproduct of rapid weight loss. Just as your skin stretches as you gain weight (and results in stretch marks), your skin also tightens after you lose weight. However, the speed at which your skin can tighten is limited. This is generally determined by genetics, as some people have more elastic skin than others. When losing weight rapidly, fat cells are shrinking much faster than the skin can tighten. Thus, loose skin.
Not everyone is equally susceptible to loose skin after bariatric surgery. Factors include age, amount of weight lost, and natural tendency to elastic skin.

What Can I Do About Excess Skin after Bariatric Surgery?

Wait and do nothing. Excess skin may seem really bad at first, but give it some time. Your skin will tighten up naturally, and this tightening is a perfectly natural process. Give it 6-12 months before considering surgical options for removing excess skin.
Improve muscle tone through resistance training. Although it might seem counterintuitive for a, say, middle aged woman eating less than 1200 calories a day to start weight training, it’s actually a great way to fill in some of the gaps left by excess skin. Exercises such as bicep curls, squats, and abdominal exercises can help improve muscle tone and fill in loose skin. Ask your doctor when it’s appropriate to start weight training.
Sea salt body scrubs. These scrubs can help increase circulation to the skin and improve elasticity of the skin over time. These should be done twice a day in the shower for about a month before you see the results.

Loose Skin Removal Surgery: What should I do?

It’s entirely up to you whether or not you decide to go for loose skin removal surgery. Keep in mind that this surgery is a cosmetic procedure, performed by plastic surgeons, and thus it may be difficult to get insurance to cover it.
There are several procedures that can be done by plastic surgeons. One common one is the “mommy makeover”, which is targeted at moms who have just given birth but can be appropriate for any women who have experienced rapid weight loss.
Body contouring is the typical name for these types of procedures, and can be done on the arms, chest, abdominal area, thighs, back, and face.
Keep in mind, though, that it IS a surgical procedure and it will likely be expensive. You’re going to want to get quotes from the best surgeons in your area to see what you can expect to pay.
Remember: loose skin removal surgery is NOT mandatory, and you CAN expect a return of some elasticity to your skin. However, if you’re still not satisfied, you can consider your options.