When people begin a weight loss journey, they often envision a 'perfect' body at the end of it. But like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, that imagined perfection can be hard to find. While losing a large amount of weight brings increased energy levels, better cognitive function and overall health improvements, it can also bring loose, sagging skin. Plastic surgery is an option, however with a price tag that most can't afford, many women are left to find other ways to deal with it all.
"I was very surprised because you see 'fitspo' and you think you're going to look like that at the end," says Amanda Czerwieniec, 31, of Barberton, Ohio. Over the course of two years, Czerwieniec lost an amazing 130 pounds! However, despite losing the weight over a long period of time, her skin still didn't snap back the way she thought it would.
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(Photos by Amanda Czerwieniec)[/caption]
She's not alone in this disappointing reality. Natasha Coleman, of Panama City, Florida had a similar experience. Having lost 223 pounds so far on her journey, she says, "This is not the body I signed up for. I'm still heavy, I'm just deflated."
When a person loses extra fatty layers from under their skin, they are left with empty skin says Steven Davis, DO, a board-certified plastic surgeon.
[bctt tweet="Here's How 3 Women Are Coping With Loose Skin Following Weight Loss"]
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(Photos by Natasha Coleman)[/caption]
Loose skin can be uncomfortable and lead to irritation, rashes and even infections. But most of the time, it is just an embarrassing nuisance.
"My arms flap ridiculously; when I bend down, I can hear the skin between my legs flapping," Coleman says.
This can have a serious impact on one's mental health. "Losing the weight was the easy part, the mental part was the hardest," says Julie Stubblefield, 41, of Mechanicsville, Virginia. Stubblefield lost 70 pounds in just 9 months and was absolutely shocked by the results. "I felt like my body had betrayed me; it didn't look the way it was supposed to," she says.
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(Photos by Julie Stubblefield)[/caption]
Helen Coons, PhD, president and clinical director at Women's Mental Health Associates in Denver, Colorado believes that a large part of this problem lies at the feet of the media and the ways in which they mislead us. "Women featured in TV, online, and print images frequently have complete makeovers—flawless skin, gorgeous hair, stylish clothes—it's unrealistic," she says. But Coons is quick to add that a critical self-view is also to blame post-weight loss misery. "Women who have been overweight remain very critical of their size, shape, and appearance, even after the pounds are gone," she explains. Where someone was once unhappy with their weight, they are now unhappy with their loose skin.
Coons says the key to losing this negative self-talk is to stop thinking in terms of perfectionism. If you shift your focus towards the progress you've made in terms of living a happier, healthier, longer, more fulfilling life, than all those remaining 'imperfections' will suddenly seem less significant. "It took a lot of time to come to terms with how my body looks now, but I've realized I am so much more than how I look," Stubblefield says. Now, instead of feeling bummed out when she sees the extra skin around her middle, she uses it as a reminder of how far she has come and uses it as a tool to motivate her to continue her healthy habits. "It's a positive," she says. "I wouldn't have this excess skin if I hadn't gone through a transformation."
Stubblefield is right. She has transformed.
If you are someone with loose, extra skin, you, too, have been transformed. Be proud of how far you've come and own your scars!
What do you do to stay positive about your loose skin?