Question: Monique, In a recent response you provided regarding weight loss, you made the statement that many people who lose weight too quickly end up with hanging and sagging skin. This has happened to me! I am in my 20s and I lost 140 lbs. through a combination of healthy diet changes and exercise and have kept it off for over a year now. I weight train 4 times a week, do cardio for 30 minutes 4 times a week, and bike and swim regularly. Will this horrible loose skin EVER tighten up? It is so terribly frustrating and damaging to my self esteem. Thank you.
Answer: Congratulations on your very significant weight loss! You are doing the best thing for your heart and body! A combination of healthy eating and a sensible exercise routine is the optimal way to lose weight.
However, as you found out first hand, if you lose too much too quickly it results in hanging and sagging skin -- especially in the stomach, upper arms and upper thighs. Working as hard as you have to bring your weight down and getting loose skin as a result can be very frustrating and not the best situation for your ego. Nonetheless, all is not lost.
The skin has only so much elasticity. It is very much like a balloon in that once it gets stretched out, it never quite goes back to its original shape. While exercise can help a little to tighten the skin, plastic surgery may be your only option to remove the excess skin. (This is why I tell people to lose their weight slowly!)
But please don't get discouraged and stop all the good work you have been doing to get your body in shape. Your skin situation can be corrected. Your overall concern should be your health. (What good is tight skin if you have a weak heart.) Keep doing what you have been doing. While I usually do not recommend for people to get elective surgery, if it will help with your mental outlook and self-esteem, it may be your best bet.
Also, read my Q&A's . . .
"How can I tighten my torso after losing a lot of weight?"
"Safe Weight Loss"
"Weight loss program for vegans and vegetarians?"
" I have a weight problem - please help!"
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Monique N. Gilbert, BSc. has offered guidance in health, nutrition, fitness and stress management since 1989. Through her writings, Monique motivates and teaches how to improve your well-being, vitality and longevity with balanced nutrition, physical activity and healthy stress-free living.