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Bariatric Surgery and Loose Skin: What To Know

You’ve had your surgery, you’re eating well and exercising more and you’re losing weight rapidly. You’re lighter, you’re fitter, you’re enjoying life more. It’s all great – apart from the loose skin.

Loose skin can be an unwelcome side effect of rapid weight loss. Why does that happen? And how can you deal with loose skin after weight loss?

Your Remarkable Skin

Your skin is your largest organ, with a broad job description that includes helping to regulate your temperature, managing your sense of touch, helping you detect heat or cold, and creating a waterproof barrier.

Skin regenerates every 30 days or so. It’s made up of many different components including water, protein, fats and minerals.

The dermis is the middle layer of your skin, made up of collagen and elastin. These two proteins give your skin its elasticity, allowing it to stretch then return to its normal shape.

Skin Elasticity And Weight Gain/Loss

Unlike skinny jeans, your skin stretches as you gain weight. But, if you’re overweight for a long time, you may damage its collagen and elastin fibres. Collagen and elastin production also declines with age too.

The result is that your skin may struggle to keep up with your weight loss. The kilos are slipping off but your skin isn’t shrinking back down at the same rate. Instead, it’s hanging loosely off your slimmer body.

How Big A Problem Is Loose Skin After Weight Loss Surgery?

That really depends on you. Some people accept their loose skin, others struggle with it.

Excess skin after weight loss may cause problems such as:   

  • Chafing and irritation if it rubs against other folds of skin in your groin, stomach, underarms or inner thighs   
  • Infections if bacteria builds up inside skin folds or if skin breaks due to chafing   
  • Impaired confidence or negative self-image.

Dealing With Loose Skin After Weight Loss

If you’re concerned about loose skin after weight loss, then it may help to:   

  • Remember the benefits of weight loss
    • By losing so much weight, you’ve gained considerable health benefits. You’ve improved your heart health, metabolic health, fertility, joints and mental health. 
    • You’ve improved your quality of life because you’re more active and able to join in with activities instead of sitting on the sidelines.   
  • Be patient  
    • The first 6-12 months after bariatric surgery are a time of considerable change. You’re losing weight and creating new, healthier diet and fitness habits. Your skin will change too. It may be saggy at first but may tighten up as your exercise pays off.   
  • Talk it over with a psychologist 
    • Your weight affects your self-image – but so do many other things like your upbringing, your self-talk, your job and your relationships. Sometimes, those difficult feelings persist even when you’ve slimmed down because they were always about more than your weight.
    • Body image after bariatric surgery is often a complicated topic. Talking it over with a professional can help you to accept yourself.   
  • Nourish your skin
    • Eat well, feeding your skin with a diet rich in nutrients that benefit your skin like water, vitamins and protein, which is known to improve skin elasticity and boost your lean muscle mass.
    • Exercise regularly to build lean muscle mass which helps to reduce sagging skin.   
  • Contour with compression garments 
    • The right compression garments can help prevent chafing and give you a smoother silhouette.   
  • Try laser therapy or cryotherapy
    • These non-surgical procedures may tighten your skin a little.   
  • Consider body contouring surgery  

How can Dr Lockie help?

If you’re concerned about loose skin after bariatric surgery, then please come and talk to us. Dr Lockie has helped many patients in a similar situation and can help you to adjust to your new post-surgery body, including managing loose skin in a way that’s right for you.

Please contact us if you need advice and support about loose skin after bariatric surgery.

Disclaimer

All information is general in nature. Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks.

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