Is there anything I can do to prevent loose skin after weight loss?
August 29, 2012 10:06 AM   Subscribe

I feel like I'm right at the point in my weight-loss journey where I'm about to start getting loose skin on my belly and butt -- I'm talking about the kind of skin people have after weight loss that kind of hangs from their formerly-larger parts and can be quite uncomfortable. How can I prevent this?

I have recently lost 20 pounds, and am on track to continue losing. This is the first time in my life I've stuck with a good diet and exercise routine, and I'm confident that I'll stick with it.

I'm worried about getting loose skin -- I want to lose about 60 pounds total. I understand that loose skin results in part from a lack of elasticity in the skin, and that for some people it goes away with time. Is there anything I can do now to help prevent it and/or help it go away faster?

I was in an accident a few years ago, and my doctor told me to use coconut butter on the scars to help keep them small -- and a few years before that, I successfully used Moderma to minimize some stretch marks that I suddenly developed. Would something like that be helpful in this circumstance? I'm trying to avoid relying on vague, quakery claims on product labels -- I'm looking for actual experience people have had with products like this in similar situations.

I'm 41 and generally have good skin, although it is dry. I do not look my age, so maybe my skin is already somewhat elastic, but I know it is less so than it used to be. I know nothing is guaranteed, but I'd like to give my skin whatever help I can.
posted by OrangeDisk to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Losing slowly is your best bet to allow the skin to shrink back to "fit" your new shape. The fact that you're still young enough to have some elasticity is a plus. Additionally, some advice that I have received in my own weight loss journey has been to keep hydrated, and to use moisturizer. These three things have kept me from having too much loose skin (45 pounds down, 30 to go).

Good for you, and good luck with your weight loss!
posted by blurker at 11:14 AM on August 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

Drink more water. Lotion in whatever way you want since you say you dry skin. Lose weight gradually.
posted by zephyr_words at 11:15 AM on August 29, 2012

Your skin's ability to spring back depends on genetics, how far your skin was stretched, how long you carried the extra weight and how fast you lose it. Moisturization and hydration are pretty much all you can do (that, and Spanx). Palmer's Cocoa Butter is my lotion of choice based on how much it helped to fade my stretch marks.

Your skin will never be taut without surgery. I'm much younger than you and a few years after losing 80 pounds, my skin is still about as loose as it was when I reached my final weight. However, all my stretch marks have turned white and faded.
posted by theraflu at 11:15 AM on August 29, 2012

As a counterpoint to theraflu, when I lost about 100 lbs over the course of a year at the age of 27, I had no problems with loose skin (although I did still have stretch marks that eventually faded). Which is just to say that there's a range of behaviors your body might exhibit.
posted by TypographicalError at 11:26 AM on August 29, 2012

This is one of the reasons that doctors advise gradual weight loss (2 pounds a week, maximum). (The other reason is not to put stress on your gallbladder.)

Moisturizing can't hurt. Hydration is always important. I feel your pain; I am currently losing a lot of weight unintentionally and am getting really unfortunate "bingo wings" and have no idea how I am going to get my upper arms back into something recognizable-to-me as their usual selves.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:26 AM on August 29, 2012

Thanks for the ideas -- I am losing about 1/2 to 1 pound per week, so I've got the gradual thing down. I'll try the cocoa butter, thanks!
posted by OrangeDisk at 3:51 PM on August 29, 2012

I found that it did get better. I lost a bit quicker than I should have (I didn't mean to - I was breastfeeding, getting physio and had dietary issues thanks to my gallbladder) and had pretty loose skin under my arms and inner upper thighs and both are better three years down the track. Not brilliant but not as loose as it was two years ago.
posted by geek anachronism at 6:43 PM on August 29, 2012

@theraflu, do you use the cocoa butter that's a lotion made for stretch marks? Or do you use the solid kind that comes in a tub?
posted by OrangeDisk at 7:15 PM on August 29, 2012

Here is a pretty good summary of what may help or hinder your efforts. (As well as some other podcast episodes you might find interesting when it comes to exercise.)
posted by peppermintfreddo at 5:39 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

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