While losing weight is normally fantastic -- especially for those who are extremely overweight -- one often overlooked side effect is the amount of excess skin you may be left with. Those who already had poor skin elasticity before weight loss likely will not have skin that is able to adapt to their new body shape; in such a situation, you may need to turn to plastic surgery.
Whether skin elasticity will be a problem after your weight loss depends on how much you lose and how long it takes you to lose it. People who lose 50 pounds or less over the course of several months probably will not struggle with skin elasticity problems, since their skin may be able to shrink along with their body mass. But those who lose 50 to 100 pounds in a short period of time may find that their skin has not cooperated. This can be especially likely for people who undergo bariatric surgery, or gastric bypass surgery, as they are very likely to lose lots of weight quickly [source: Columbia University].
People who lose a moderate amount of weight and still have excess skin can have a body lift, or area-specific plastic surgery, done wherever it is needed, from the abdomen to thighs or arms. Those who undergo bariatric surgery to lose the weight may need overall body contouring surgery, which can include a series of procedures over the course of two years. Often, bariatric patients' skin has been so severely stretched that it may have lost its ability to tighten and tone [source: American Society of Plastic Surgeons].
For those who lose weight naturally, a waiting period of two years is recommended before undergoing surgery to ensure that you are ready for the invasive procedure. In addition, most insurance companies don't cover contouring surgery, since it is considered an elective procedure, making it a costly out-of-pocket expense [source: Columbia University].
To learn more about how to improve skin elasticity, visit the links on the following page.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- American Academy of Dermatology. "Causes of Aging Skin." 2008. (Accessed 9/16/09) http://www.skincarephysicians.com/agingskinnet/basicfacts.html
- American Society of Plastic Surgeons. "Loss of Skin Elasticity in Post-Bariatric Patients Leads to Modifications to Body Contouring Techniques." 10/8/04. (Accessed 9/16/09) http://www.plasticsurgery.org/Media/Press_Releases/Loss_of_Skin_Elasticity_in_Post-Bariatric_Patients_Leads_to_Modifications_to_Body_Contouring_Techniques.html
- Columbia University. "Weight Loss and Excess Skin." Go Ask Alice. 4/13/07. (Accessed 9/16/09) http://www.goaskalice.columbia.edu/5511.html
- Dugdale, David C. "Aging Changes in Skin." Medline Plus. 8/10/08. (Accessed 9/16/09) http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/004014.htm
- Manson, JoAnn. "Can the Skin's Elasticity Be Restored?" EverydayHealth. 7/14/08. (Accessed 9/16/09) http://www.everydayhealth.com/specialists/menopause/manson/qa/skins-elasticity-be-restored/index.aspx
- Mayo Clinic. "Vitamin A (retinol)." 3/1/08. (Accessed 9/16/09)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/vitamin-a/NS_patient-vitamina
- Mayo Clinic. "Vitamin E." 3/1/08. (Accessed 9/16/09)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/vitamin-e/NS_patient-vitamine
- Medline Plus. "Vitamin C." 8/26/09. (Accessed 9/16/09) http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-vitaminc.html
- PRD. "Lutein." Physicians' Desktop Reference. (Accessed 9/16/09) http://www.pdrhealth.com/drugs/altmed/altmed-mono.aspx?contentFileName=ame0436.xml&contentName=Lutein&contentId=592
- WebMD. "Skin Care Products: Best Ingredients for Aging Skin." 2/17/09. (Accessed 9/16/09) http://www.webmd.com/skin-beauty/cosmetic-procedures-products-2