Anyone who's ever lost a lot of weight in a short period of time or given birth knows that loose skin happens when you lose bulk, quickly. It may not make you feel like slapping in a two-piece and heading to the beach, but this loose skin is harmless. Harmless, and for the most part, temporary. Most of the time, loose skin will bounce back.
Most of the time.
Understanding Your Skin
You skin is a living organ made of tissue which is made of cells. Your skin's outer layer of cells are continually being shed and regenerated, but the cells on the deeper levels of skin aren't so quick to adapt. The blood vessels, fibers, connective tissues and other factors that constitute this deeper layer of skin can contract, just as it could stretch, but they need more time, and you need patience.
You also need to know what to do (and not to do) to help this naturally occurring process along -- or at least not impede it. That's right: you can improve your skin's elasticity by simply allowing your skin to do what it does best.
H20 nourishes and cleanses every cell in your body, so drink plenty of water to ensure your skin is getting the hydration it needs. How much? Well, that depends on a few factors, including age, weight, sex, and even where you live, but in general, around eight, 8 oz glasses a day is a solid minimum standard.
Or at least don't drink much. We're not here lecture you on your drinking habits, but you should be aware that in addition to the other documented dangers of alcohol, it also causes free radical damage, which inhibits your body's ability to proliferate cells and produce collagen, a compound that helps your skin retain elasticity. If laying off the sauce entirely isn't on your to-do list, then at least cut down, for the sake of vanity if not health.
DO: Eat Clean
Keeping you cells flush with good, vital nutrients is one of the best ways to help your skin bounce back. Eating a clean diet rich in protein will help your body produce more of the skin plumping collagen and elastin. Opt for foods like lean protein sources (fish, chicken, lean red meat), nuts, beans, seeds, tofu, high protein dairy (e.g. cottage cheese) and legumes. Bonus: the oils found in many of these foods will also help boost your skin's elasticity!
Even hardcore smokers know what the ol' devil sticks can do to your body inside and out, but we're just talking about skin right now. Much like alcohol, cigarettes produce free radicals, so if you want your skin to be able to create the healthy new skin cells required for skin contraction, then butting out is a must.
Our bodies don't produce as much collagen as we age, so if you've experienced sudden weight loss and aren't a doe-eyed teen or 20-something anymore, strongly consider supplementing with collagen. Collagen supplementation has been shown to significantly increase skin elasticity and moisture, so it can definitely help get your skin back into shape. Learn more about how you can incorporate collagen into your diet here.
DON'T: Sun Worship
Listen,we all love the sunshine, but we can soak up some vitamin without doing damage to our skin — damage that will lead to the degeneration of our bodies' collagen. Be sure to layer on the sunscreen if you're planning to spend more than a few minutes outside.
When you workout, you increase your body's ability to deliver more nutrients to your cells, which feeds the skin's fibroblast cells that create skin tightening collagen.
So, while you’re sculpting a stronger core, you can also be tightening the skin on your stomach. It’s a win-win!
Do you need surgery?
Almost never. You almost never need surgery to remove loose skin, unless it is causing major health issues, like making it difficult for you to move, or causing constant chafing that’s resulting in infections. However, you may want surgery to remove loose skin that just isn’t bouncing back as much as you’d like. It happens.
Your skin is like a rubber band: you can only stretch it so much and so far before it becomes permanently warped. While a woman’s skin will stretch considerably during a full-term pregnancy, her skin will almost always retreat to taut form after a year, max. However, if a woman has multiple pregnancies close together, especially later in her life, the skin on her stomach may permanently sag. Same goes for someone who has lost weight after carrying it around for years and years. Repeated and prolonged stress has limited the ability of their skin cells to contract.
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