What happens to skin when you lose weight?
Are you worried about loose skin after weight loss? Maybe you are on a weight loss journey and feel concerned about if loose skin goes away and what you can do about it.
What Causes Loose Skin After Weight Loss?
If you have a lot of weight to lose, the truth is that you may very well have saggy, loose skin as a result of losing weight.
Our skin is an amazing organ that protects us from disease, protects our internal organs, and much more. As you gained weight, your skin gradually grew to accommodate your size.
According to Healthline, “When skin has been significantly stretched and remains that way for a long period of time, collagen and elastin fibers become damaged. As a result, they lose some of their ability to retract.”
Loss of Skin Elasticity
Skin looses it’s ability to bounce back due to a number of factors, including:
- length of time overweight
- sun exposure
- speed of weight loss
Problems from Loose Skin
I’ve been fortunately that after a 130 pound weight loss (more on my story below) I have not had a lot of issues due to my loose skin. The worst problem was the loose thigh skin catching a bit on my bike seat when I did triathlons, but compressing tri shorts took care of that issue.
Some people have issues like:
- infections, sores and chaffing in the folds of loose skin.
- self-consciousness to the point that it prevents them from doing things.
- limited exercise or physical activity.
Saggy Skin After Weight Loss: My Story with Before and After Photos
When I began my weight loss journey for the final time, I lost 80 pounds in the first year. Then I hit a long plateau and didn’t lose any weight during the second year. Then I lost an additional 20 pounds during the third year.
This brought me to a total of 100 pounds lost, which I maintained for over a decade. I had some loose skin on my thighs, tummy and a bit on my arms, but not too much. I still had some extra fat, too.
For the next decade, I maintained my weight loss within a 20 pound range. During this time I weighed 145-165 pounds.
In February of 2021 I started a whole foods, plant based diet and lost an additional 20 pounds. I currently weigh 120 pounds, which is a total of 130 pounds lost from my highest weight of 250 pounds. (I’m 5’3″.)
The photo below are recent and show what my loose skin looks like now. While I am not in my 50s yet, I’m close. I’m 48 years old and went through menopause last year. I definitely have more loose skin now with the additional weight loss.
What Can I Do about Loose Skin after I Lose Weight?
One of the questions I get emails about every week is, “Do you have loose skin since losing so much weight? Does loose skin after weight loss go away?”
Lots of women are really concerned about how to tighten loose skin after shedding weight. In fact, I’ve had women tell me they don’t even try to lose weight because they figure it’s not worth it because their skin will be saggy afterward.
To be blunt, this blows my mind.
Loose skin won’t kill you but being overweight might.
Do I have loose skin? Yes. Has it stopped me from doing anything? No.
This weekend I rocked a new tank top. People saw my flabby arm skin. I didn’t die.
Here’s some things to consider about loose skin after weight loss:
- EVERY body has flaws.
- Focus on what your body can do for you, not how it looks.
- An attitude of gratitude will change your perspective. I appreciate all God has given me from this weight loss journey, not the physical scars.
- I don’t flaunt my loose skin but I don’t hide it either. It’s just something that’s part of me.
- I haven’t had surgery for loose skin, but if you want to pursue that road go for it.
- No creams, potions, or magic machines will fix loose skin.
- Some people say that losing weight slowly helps. I’m not sure that’s been proven. I think it’s more about genetics, age, and how much weight you lose.
- At the end of the day, my general attitude about loose skin is, “ehh.” It’s there, it’s not that big of a deal. As long as I’m okay with it, I think everyone else is too. What other people think of me is none of my business.
- The real “loose skin solution” is fixing your thoughts, not the skin.
- Lots of thin people are self-conscious about their bodies, too.
- Consider yourself a Shar-pei dog. Everyone loves those.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Excess Skin After Losing Weight
Skin will tighten somewhat over time after you lose weight. If you have a lot of weight to lose or are older, skin will not tighten all the way.
There is no way to prevent loose skin. The rate that your skin will sag mostly has to do with genetics, age, and how much weight you carried before losing it.
Your body carries fat where it carries it. If you have loose skin on your breasts, belly or thighs, the skin didn’t tighten again. There’s no way to spot-reduce fat so it can’t be prevented.
Loose skin may retract over time, especially if you are young. No creams will fix the skin, but keeping skin hydrated and help appearance. Weight training can help build muscle so your body is more contoured, but it won’t fix loose skin totally.
Costs of surgery will vary greatly depending on the type of procedure you have done, such as an arm lift, tummy tuck or full lower body lift. If you have medical issues due to loose skin, insurance may pay for part or all of the procedure.
Are you concerned about excess skin after losing weight? Remember that your health is the priority. Surgery is an option if the skin causes medical problems or really bothers you.
Absolutely do not let the concern about flabby skin stop you from losing weight. All in all, I consider loose skin a good problem to have.
Are you concerned about excess skin? Tell us about it in the comments below.
More Weight Loss Posts for You
5 Things I am Embarrassed to Tell You About My Weight Loss Journey
When You Have a Lot of Weight to Lose
How to Choose the Goal Weight that’s Right for You
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A Medina says
Thank you! I had been concerned. But after reading, I almost think that flabby skin is our testimony to talk with others about how we found ourselves in Christ and therefore were able to have healthy bodies over husky bodies.
YES! This is a fantastic attitude shift.
Karen J Brightbill says
Hi Sara, Thanks for writing about this. I have been concerned about saggy skin for a long time. I hate the idea. I don’t want it to be a focus, but it is depressing to think about. I want to be happy with whatever happens when I lose weight, but I have felt ugly my whole life due to my weight so I’m struggling with the fact that I will still have to deal with saggy skin. I knew I would, I’m 66, but still … I need to see myself more as God does and not do the comparison game. I need to focus on being able to going for long walks with the kiddos in my family, play at the beach with them go up my niece’s 5 story walk up and stuff like that. I also want to horse-back ride, and I’m dying to learn line dancing. There are so many good things about losing weight that I don’t want saggy skin to be something I focus on. It has been so, so good to be part of FFL. I still have such a long way to go with changing behaviors, attitudes,etc. I appreciate both you and Becky so much and for the REAL solutions you have brought us, and not just another diet to try. So thanks much.
We absolutely love having you in our FFL membership, Karen! I totally hear where you are coming from and I think you are spot-on with your focus on how a healthier body will give you the freedom to enjoy so much more of life and time with your family.
Sue Allen says
Thank you so much for addressing this. I won’t deny this has been a concern. I’ve also used the saggy skin excuse to remain obese. I started my weight loss journey in November 2020 at my highest weight ever of 326, after finding diagnosis and treatment for a chronic condition that made standing difficult and exercise impossible. My doctor started me out with 5 minutes of recumbant exercise daily, increasing 1 minute every 2 weeks. I’ve worked up to 30 minutes daily and can now tolerate some standing exercise. I’ve lost 65 lbs so far. A biggy was breaking off the relationship with Little Debbie. I’m 5’2″ and 69 years old. God bless you as you minister and shine your light to guide our way out of obesity.
Some may trust in horses, some may trust in chariots (or Twinkies)
But I will trust in the name of The LORD!!!!
Wow Sue way to go on your weight loss! You are doing amazing as you trust God to guide you. Your comment made me laugh – I had to break up with Little Debbie, too. 🙂 Blessings.
Donna Scro says
I am so glad I found you! You are the best companion to have along with my WW. Articles like this one about skin are part of the reason. Your honesty and kindness are literally a godsend!
Awe thanks Donna! We are all in this weight loss journey together.