Three Tips For Preventing Loose Skin During Weight Loss

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Many experts talk about the benefits of losing weight—and rightly so. Dropping excess pounds can reduce your risk for certain diseases (e.g. diabetes) and boost your self-confidence among other things. However, there are some drawbacks to weight loss, and one of the more distressing problems is you may develop loose or excess skin as you shrink. Here are three things you can do to avoid this problem during weight loss.

Build Muscle

Skin is highly adaptable. When you gain weight, the skin stretches to cover the adipose fat stored underneath the surface. The loss of the fat, however, creates a void, and the skin hangs in the area because there's no longer anything there for it to wrap around.

It can take awhile for the body to reclaim the unneeded skin. However, you can minimize the appearance of excess skin by building muscle. The increased muscle mass helps fill in the gap left behind by the fat. Additionally, muscles require more calories to burn than fat, so as a bonus, you'll probably lose weight faster, and it'll be easier to maintain the loss.

Many experts recommend people strength train at least twice per week. Be sure to work all the muscle groups, as overlooking a section could result in loose skin in odd places and an unbalanced look.

Improve Skin Elasticity

Another reason why skin may have trouble shrinking back into place after a significant amount of weight loss is it may have lost some of its elasticity. Elastin and collagen are two things that allow skin to stretch and shrink as needed. However, these elements can lose their strength, making it more difficult for skin to recover after being stretched over excess weight.

There are a variety of reasons why elastin and collagen lose their effectiveness. Age is a big contributor as skin naturally loses its elasticity over time. As a result, you're far more likely to have problems with sagging in your forties than you would in your twenties. However, keeping the skin moisturized, eating skin-friendly foods such as broccoli and blueberries, and drinking lots of water can help improve skin elasticity.

Losing weight too fast can also lead to excess skin because it doesn't give the organ time to catch up. Therefore, losing weight slowly (i.e. 1 to 2 pounds per week) makes it easier for the skin to recover and gives you time to build muscle to replace the fat you're eliminating. Yo-yo dieting—repeatedly losing and gain weight—can also fatigue the skin and make it more difficult for it to bounce back. So it's important to commit to lifestyle changes that make it easier to maintain your weight loss to avoid damaging your skin with constant fluctuations in weight.

Stop Smoking

Smoking has a negative impact on all aspects of your health, and that includes your skin's elasticity. Nicotine is a vasoconstrictor, meaning it makes arteries shrink. This hurts your circulation and makes it harder for your skin to get the nutrients it needs to remain healthy. Smoking also increases the amount of inflammatory proteins in the skin which, in turn, reduces collagen levels and contributes to sagging and wrinkling.

Quitting smoking is probably the best thing you can do for your body and overall health. There are a number of products on the market to help you with this goal, though you may want to speak to your doctor before using them to ensure they won't interfere with any medications you may be currently taking.

It may not be possible to prevent all excess skin, especially if you have a lot of weight to lose (e.g. over 100 pounds). That's were cosmetic surgery can be immensely beneficial. If you are concerned about having leftover skin after you're finished losing weight, consult with a cosmetic surgeon about options for safely removing it. Check out a site like to find a tummy tuck surgeon.