How to Avoid Loose Skin After Weight Loss Surgery

Whether you choose to undergo bariatric surgery because of concerns over your health or because you want to change your appearance, you still have to deal with recovery, and that may include dealing with excess skin. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to avoid loose skin after weight loss surgery, and many will help contribute to your ongoing weight loss efforts.

Why You Develop Excess Skin After Weight Loss Surgery

When you gain a significant amount of weight, your skin expands in order to compensate for the additional body mass – sometimes, this results in stretch marks. After you undergo weight loss surgery, your fat cells will shrink as you lose weight, but your skin retains the same surface area. That’s what causes loose or excess skin after gastric sleeve and gastric bypass operations.

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Maintaining Muscle Mass is Essential to Preventing Excess Skin

Although you’ll start with cardio exercise following bariatric surgery, the best way to keep excess skin from developing is strength building exercise.

That’s because your skin not only expands when you gain fat; it also expands when you gain muscle. And when you lose weight, you can lose muscle in addition to fat. But by maintaining your existing muscle mass, you can help prevent loose skin from developing.

One of the best strength building exercises to start with is standard bicep curls, as those areas tend to get the flabbiest after a bariatric operation. Other good weight-lifting exercises are deadlifts and squats, as they are compound strength-building exercises, which means they work several groups of muscles simultaneously.

A woman demonstrating proper dead lift form.

Deadlifts are one of the best exercises for losing weight while also maintaining your existing muscle mass.

The key is to be consistent with your workouts, but to also make sure you’re going slow and steady. Don’t overwork yourself.

Cardio Exercise Is Important for Burning Fat After Weight Loss Surgery

The goal of cardio is to – as the name implies – work your cardiovascular system. As soon as you get cleared by your doctor to begin exercising, you should start doing cardio exercises, beginning with walks. Once you’ve fully healed, you can engage in other cardio activities, such as running, swimming or cycling. Swimming, especially, is an excellent exercise that works your entire body and slims you down.

However, it’s important to note that too much cardio exercise compared with strength building exercise could lead to rapid weight loss, increasing your odds of developing excess skin. A good way to ensure you’re not losing weight too quickly is to maintain a steady weight loss rate of only one or two pounds per week.

Your Diet Also Has a Big Impact on the Development of Loose Skin

Obviously, your diet is going to play a huge part in how your body changes following bariatric surgery. It’s easy to fall back into old eating habits, but the last thing you want to do is not lose weight, or worse, create complications by eating the wrong things.

Your new diet should include foods that will help your body reduce excess skin from developing. There are certain types of food that not only promote healthy skin, but can also contribute to muscle growth, both of which you need.

As such, you should focus on eating nuts, such as Brazil nuts, cashews or almonds. While these may not be a meal in themselves, you can snack on them throughout the day.

You’ll also want to focus on fruits and whole grains, such as blueberries, raspberries, kiwis, oranges, oats, whole wheat and yams. If you eat meat, aim for lean ones, such as chicken and fish. In addition, make sure you’re drinking plenty of fluids.

Massages Help Prevent Loose Skin and Have Additional Benefits 

Getting massages regularly can benefit your health in many ways.

In regards to reducing excess skin, massages aid in blood circulation. They can unclog areas of your body where excess fluid has been building up, so when you go workout or take a walk, that fluid will dissolve and go away accordingly. If you really want to make the most of a massage, schedule it prior to your workout routine.

Massages also create better blood flow, which helps your body’s metabolism function efficiently. That means the food you’re eating can be turned into energy at an increased rate.

Stay Out of the Sun to Protect Your Skin

Too much sun isn’t good for anyone’s skin, but it can be especially harmful to people trying to prevent their skin from sagging after having weight loss surgery.

A lot of sun exposure can reduce your body’s production of collagen, a protein that helps strengthen skin, and elastin, which allows your skin to stretch and – more importantly for people undergoing weight loss surgery – bounce back to its original state.

You Always Can Have Excess Skin Surgically Removed

If at the end of the day, if you’ve tried all these methods and your skin continues to loosen up as you lose weight, there are surgical options available. Surgeons can remove portions of skin so it matches up with the body mass underneath.

Skin removal can make a huge difference for someone who’s skin before and after gastric sleeve surgery becomes a problem.

There are several different operations, known as body contouring procedures, that are used to remove excess skin, including:

  • Facelifts, which help reduce sagging skin in the mid-face, jowls and neck.
  • Breast lifts, which lift up sagging or flattening breasts.
  • Tummy tucks, which remove excess skin hanging over the abdomen.
  • Lower body lifts, which reduce loose skin around the abdomen, buttocks and inner and outer thighs.
  • Medial thigh lifts, which remove skin sagging from the inner thighs.
  • Arm lifts, which reduce skin hanging from the upper arms.

Since these are surgical procedures, you’ll obviously need to consult your doctor to see if it’s something you should consider.

If you have any additional questions regarding loose or excess skin following weight loss surgery, please contact us.