Loose skin and weight loss: the options

November 28, 2013

*Disclaimer – There is no guarantee of specific results and results can vary from patient to patient. Our team of consultant plastic surgeons will ensure you are in safe hands and discuss your results at your consultation.

It’s so gratifying to hear of those who lose kilos in weight by re-hauling their diet and lifestyle.

We love watching Operation Transformation and cheering on the contestants – we’ve even had one or two pop into the clinic afterwards such as the lovely Paddy Cunningham.

Unfortunately, there is sometimes an unwanted by-product of reaching weight loss goals through diet and exercise; sagging extra skin and stubborn deposits of fat.

Here are some tips on how to avoid it, and surgical options if you can’t.

Weight loss rarely leads to skin snapping back

Weight loss rarely leads to skin snapping back.

Tips for avoiding loose skin as you lose weight

If you are trying to lose weight through diet and exercise, there are some ways you can avoid creating excess skin in the process.

1. Don’t Lose Weight Quickly

Avoid crash diets or anything else that will lead to sudden, unhealthy weight loss. As a guideline, a safe rate would be 0.5 to 1kg per week.

2. Hydrate in and out

Skin needs water for elasticity, so drink at least 2 litres of water a day. Also, moisturise and exfoliate regularly.

3. Have a healthy diet of vitamins and minerals

Vitamin C is important for the skin’s collagen formation. A blend of nutrients, including selenium, zinc and carotenoids is effective at increasing skin elasticity according to this study.

4. When to consider surgery for loose skin and extra fat

Of course, the ideal result after weight loss is that the skin tightens up again itself. This happens in some cases, such as the bump caused by pregnancy. Sometimes, however, after years of being stretched by extra weight, or losing weight very quickly through bariatric surgery (gastric bypass), body contouring is considered as a solution.

tummy tuckBody contouring is the umbrella name given to procedures that remove excess fat and skin. Surgery usually consists of abdominoplasty (tummy tuck), often combined with procedures to remove excess skin and tissue from the breasts, legs and upper arms.

A study out last week has emphasised the usefulness of body contouring procedures in terms of preventing overall weight gain. It got a lot of media attention, including this article in the Wall Street Journal which interviewed some of the people helped greatly by the procedure.

Study on the benefits of body contouring using tummy tucks after weight loss

The study was published in the October issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. The researchers found that bariatric patients who have surgery to remove excess skin and fat through a tummy tuck procedure are more likely to keep weight off after procedures, compared to bariatric patients who didn’t have contouring procedures such as a tummy tuck.

The researchers followed 200 patients. Almost half of the patients had body-contouring surgery, while the remaining 102 patients underwent gastric bypass alone. After seven years, the patients who had undergone both gastric bypass and body contouring surgeries had a 3.6% mean weight gain, while the gastric bypass-only group experienced a mean weight gain of 10.8%.

They concluded that “body contouring should be considered reconstructive rather than cosmetic surgery for patients who have achieved massive weight loss.”

Before body contouring surgery such as a tummy tuck or arm lift, a detailed surgical consultation will determine your suitability and clearly inform you of the risks and recovery involved in the procedure.

If you have any questions or would like more information, our patient advisors would be happy to help. Just give us a call on 01 201 4563 or use the online contact form.

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