Written by: Marlee B
When someone loses a significant amount of weight (from pregnancy or otherwise), they can end up with loose or saggy skin around the stomach, upper arms, neck, and other parts of the body.
It’s what a lot of bodies do, but that doesn’t mean that everyone talks about it, and it is also nothing to be ashamed of. So today, we are going to pretend we are best friends as we open up about this super common and totally and completely normal part about weight loss.
I’ll go over the causes of saggy skin, share my favorite skin tightening tips, and help you figure out the best ways to take care of your skin!
Saggy Skin: What Causes It
Our skin is susceptible to so many disorders, diseases, and changes, and sagging skin is just one among many such changes. It is caused by aging, sun exposure, smoking, lack of hydration, and losing a lot of weight – as in, 100 pounds or more – in a very short amount of time.
Sagging skin means there has been a loss of collagen, which gives skin its elasticity, and for those who experience it as a result of weight loss, various tissues in the skin become less able to maintain their form. Some might carry saggy skin around as a reminder of the person they used to be, and they might be surprised at how they are still unhappy with their bodies.
The fat is gone, but all that skin is held in place, and they wonder how to take care of it.
How to Tighten Skin During Weight Loss
Wondering how to maintain the elasticity of your skin while you’re trying to shed pounds? Each person will have a different response as they lose weight.
Some may quickly bounce back, and others may need a little more tender loving care. Good skin care, though, doesn’t have to be intensive or expensive.
You can still pamper yourself by acing these 5 basics:
Step 1: Lose weight slowly
Losing a lot of weight in a short period of time does not give the skin enough time to shrink. Therefore, it is ideal to lose no more than 2 pounds per week to maintain the elasticity of your skin during weight loss. A healthy diet including plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins will also provide you with rich nutrients to promote younger and healthier looking skin.
Step 2: Vitamins are vital
Vitamin A, which is found in green leafy vegetables, whole milk and liver, can help maintain and repair skin. Vitamin C, which is found in citrus fruits, strawberries, and vegetables, aids in collagen formation which is essential for tightening up the skin.
Don’t be afraid of implementing healthy fats either, like avocado, olive oil, nuts, seeds, and omega-3s. These will increase the moisture in your skin to prevent a stretched, dry appearance.
Step 3: Drink plenty of water
Do this with me real quick. Gently pinch the skin on your forearm and see if it bounces back. Did it? If not, and it slowly seeped back down, you need to drink more water to hydrate yourself and plump up your cells!
Did you know that water hydrates the skin’s cells and tissues, plumping them up for a softer and smoother skin appearance? Drinking eight to 10 glasses of water per day is essential to maintaining skin elasticity, as dehydrated skin will cause sagging and wrinkles.
I don’t know about you, but it seems to me as though Jennifer Aniston has never has a problem with drinking enough water (for obvious reasons) so don’t underestimate the power of drinking water and the positive effects it can have on your skin!
Step 4: Perform strength and resistance exercises
Loose skin may be a result of decreased body mass, including muscle, during weight loss. Increased muscle mass will tighten up your body, and create abdominal muscle definition versus a flabby tummy (remember our “busted biscuit” scenario from my ‘Fat Belly’ blog?)
Strength training three times per week will target lose areas like your tummy and underarms. If you are in need of some ideas, start with these strength and resistance exercises: squats, planks, deadlifts, and bicycle crunches.
These are good starters because they each help improve specific areas such as your core, glutes, and hamstrings. They likewise support proper posture and improve balance.
Step 5: Be smart about the sunshine
One of the most important ways to take care of your skin is to protect it from the sun.
There is a strong correlation between chronic sun exposure and wrinkles, sags and bags, skin cancer, and lack of firmness/elasticity in the skin, so avoiding overexposure will help protect you from and prevent these damages. Sunlight, however, also possesses mood-boosting benefits.
To experience the effects of mood-boosting vitamin D, you only need between 5 to 15 minutes of sunshine on your arms, hands, and face two to three times a week. However, only five or more blistering sunburns can lead to an 80% increased risk for melanoma!
The key here is to be smart, and limit your time in direct sunlight. All you need to do is become good friends with sunscreen, seek shade, and wear protective clothing.
Step 6: Manage stress
Stress affects the body in many ways, but we really see the effects of it on our skin since it’s our body’s largest organ.
Signs of a stressed-out person can range from an increase in acne, dryness, redness, and over time, sagging skin, because stress has a direct impact on hormones like cortisol. Cortisol depletes collagen, which we know is what gives our skin elasticity, so the more we stress, the more we sag!
You can reverse the effects of stress in very simple ways. Take a few minutes to breathe deeply or meditate, squeeze a stress ball, brush your hair, exercise, or make time for other things you enjoy.
Conclusion: Do Not Fear Loose Skin
Please don’t let the fear of loose skin, stretch marks, cellulite, or anything else stop you from reaching your weight loss goals. So you may have loose skin – so what? That can be fixed!
But just imagine the warrior that you will discover within yourself for accomplishing something so wonderful!
Do it for you. Don’t hold your health hostage because of fear. You can accomplish so, so much – and that includes being more than your fears!