Life After Surgery

Dealing with Extra Skin and Body Shaping After Weight Loss Surgery

by Anthony Benjamin on Oct 12, 2022

Dealing with Extra Skin and Body Shaping After Weight Loss Surgery

Dealing with Extra Skin and Body Shaping After Weight Loss Surgery

image1After bariatric surgery, most patients lose so much weight that they develop loose, sagging skin. While you may lose weight, you are carrying extra skin that is uncomfortable and difficult to deal with. Remember that loose skin is a sign of your accomplishments. Try not to let it darken your success or stop you from participating in all the new activities that your weight loss allows to you experience. If you choose to get rid of excess skin after weight loss surgery, there are natural remedies as well as surgical options.

What Causes Excess Skin After Weight Loss Surgery?

As the largest organ in your body, your skin forms a protective barrier against the outside environment. The innermost layer of skin is made up of essential proteins such as elastin and collagen. Elastin provides your body with elasticity and helps your skin stay tight. Collagen, on the other hand, makes up 80% of your skin’s structure and provides firmness and strength.

When you gain weight, the skin will expand to make room for increased growth in the abdomen and other parts of your body. The elasticity of your skin before and after weight loss surgery will determine how much loose skin you have.

If the skin is significantly stretched, it will remain stretched for a long time. Additionally, the more weight you lose, the looser the skin will be after weight loss due to elastin and collagen damage.

Where Does Excess Skin Occur?

image3Typically, excess skin is abdominal skin that reaches down past the stomach area. However, loose skin can appear in other areas as well. Some weight loss patients experience excess skin in the thighs, buttocks, arms, or around the bra line.

Will You Have Excess Skin After Weight Loss Surgery?

There are a couple of factors that will affect whether you have excess skin and how much loose skin you’ll get after losing weight. Some of these factors include:

  • The length of time you are overweight – Generally, the longer you are overweight, the looser your skin will be after weight loss surgery due to elastin and collagen loss.
  • The amount of weight you lose – If you lose 100 pounds or more, your risk of developing excess skin may be higher, depending on other risk factors and the quality of your skin.
  • Age – Older skin has less elasticity than younger skin. Post-bariatric patients aged 50 or older are at higher risk of developing loose skin because their skin is less likely to recover from the change in size.
  • Genetics – Family genetics can also affect how your body responds to rapid weight loss.
  • Smoking – Patients who smoke are at a higher risk of developing excess skin. Smoking leads to a reduction in collagen production and damage to existing collagen, which results in loose skin.
  • Sun exposure – Chronic sun exposure can damage skin collagen and elastin production, which may contribute to excess skin.

Issues with Excess Skin After Weight Loss Surgery

image4If you struggle with excess skin after weight loss surgery, you may face other problems associated with loose skin. These problems may include:

  • Physical discomfort – Excess skin can be uncomfortable and interfere with everyday activities.
  • Decreased physical activity – While physical activity helps you achieve weight loss goals, loose skin can limit exercise mobility. You may also feel self-conscious about how your excess skin moves while working out, which may stop you from exercising altogether.
  • Skin irritation – Loose skin can lead to chafing or other types of skin irritation that cause skin pain, ulcers, or other infections.
  • Poor body image and self-esteem – After weight loss surgery, it can be challenging to accept your new body – especially if you have excess skin. Loose skin can negatively affect your body image, confidence, and overall attitude about your weight loss journey.

If you struggle with any of these issues after weight loss surgery, you may want to consider natural remedies or medical treatments to help you get rid of excess skin.

Natural Remedies for Excess Skin After Weight Loss Surgery

There are several natural remedies for weight loss surgery patients who want to shed loose skin. However, natural remedies work best for people who lose a moderate amount of weight after bariatric surgery.

  • Strength training – Regular strength training such as lifting weights or cycling can help you burn more calories than other types of exercise. It can also help you build muscle mass, which helps improve the appearance of loose skin.
  • Take collagen protein peptides – Collagen protein peptides are a processed form of collagen, a protein found in the connective tissue of animals. Collagen supports healthy and strong skin and reduces overall calorie intake. ProCare’s LiquaCel is a great tasting hydrolyzed collagen liquid protein that comes in a variety of flavors.
  • Consume certain nutrients – Specific nutrients such as protein and vitamin C are essential to the production of collagen and other components of healthy skin. You should also take a bariatric-specific multivitamin.
  • Drink plenty of water – Everyone should drink at least 64 ounces (eight cups) of water per day. By increasing your daily intake of water, you can improve your skin’s hydration and function.
  • Use a firming cream or lotion – Most firming creams contain collagen and elastin. Firming creams can tighten your skin and help your skin absorb collagen and elastin.
  • Compression garments – Available for men and women, compression garments like abdominal shapers help you look and feel more confident in your body. Compression garments – like those made by Slimpressions specifically for post-bariatric patients – are available for exercise and normal daily wear.

Medical Treatments for Excess Skin After Weight Loss Surgery

Whether you lose 100 pounds or more, you may want to consider skin removal surgery. Generally, surgeons recommend that you wait at least 18 months after bariatric surgery before considering this option.

As with any medical procedure, there are risks associated with operations to remove excess skin. While insurance rarely covers these types of procedures, some insurance companies do offer partial coverage of expenses if you meet certain criteria such as those listed below:

  • Your surgery was performed at least one year ago
  • You lost at least 100 pounds
  • You have held a stable weight for at least six months
  • You have documented skin disorders resulting from excess skin
  • Your primary care doctor recommends the procedure

Some of the most popular types of skin removal surgeries include:

  • Abdominoplasty – Also known as a “tummy tuck,” is a cosmetic procedure that involves the removal of excess skin and fat from the middle and lower abdomen to tighten the muscle and fascia of the abdominal wall.
  • Panniculectomy – Many weight loss patients have a pannus, an “apron” of skin that hangs from below the belly button. A panniculectomy removes the pannus to restore a smoother, firmer torso.
  • Lower-body lift – A lower-body lift is an extensive procedure that tightens tissues on the abdomen, buttocks, hips, and thighs. It involves a long incision above the hip bone, which runs around the circumference of the body. A lower-body lift tightens stretched abdominal muscles and removes excess skin from the front and back of the torso.
  • Upper-body lift – The upper-body lift targets excess skin on upper areas of the body such as the arms, breasts, and back.
  • Medial thigh lift – Dramatic weight loss leads to extra skin around the thighs. The medial thigh lift removes excess skin and fat to achieve a firmer, smoother appearance to the legs. It involves incisions that vary depending on the location and amount of excess skin.

Costs for each of these procedures vary depending on the amount of skin to be removed, what areas are lifted, and how many procedures you need. The best way to get a specific understanding about the best procedure, costs, and if insurance will cover the operation, is to schedule an appointment with a board certified plastic surgeon.

ProCare Health Helps You Create Healthy Habits After Weight Loss Surgery

At ProCare Health, your health and wellbeing is our top priority. We provide you with a variety of products, from a multivitamin specifically designed for bariatric patients to other vitamin and mineral, calcium, and protein supplements that you need on your weight loss journey to a healthier new you.

We strive to provide you with only the best in quality because we know how important it is to your health and well-being. Feel free to contact us with questions or to place an order today!