Summary: Excess skin can be a problem for those who have lost a significant amount of weight. This excess skin is a problem because it’s difficult to eliminate. For many patients, surgery is the only real option.

Will Exercise Help with Excess Skin After Weight Loss?

How many people made New Year’s Resolutions that involved losing weight, eating better, or getting to the gym more? It’s a cliché for a reason: we all do it. Or, we all have done it. That’s what makes the early weeks of January such a good time to discuss an aspect of weight loss that most people don’t stop to think about: excess skin. Let’s say that you’re successful, that you knock down goal after goal after goal, and pretty soon you’ve lost a substantial amount of weight. You’re going to be left with a substantial amount of excess skin.

That excess skin can be problematic for a number of reasons. First, it can make patients quit uncomfortable. Rather than the toned, cut belly you thought you’d be showing off, there are simply folds of skin. That skin can also make it difficult to continue exercising. In fact, some patients have discussed having to “tuck in” their belly skin in order to get on the treadmill. But that doesn’t mean that losing weight is, somehow, futile. Indeed, there’s a plastic surgery procedure designed specifically to address the excess skin caused by a weight loss. But will exercise help with excess skin?

The Health Benefits of Working Out

Whether you are left with excess skin or not, there are definite health benefits to working out. Study after study has shown that working out will give you more energy and help you feel better. The same is, generally, true of dieting (when it’s done right—not when you starve yourself). There are benefits to both exercise and healthful eating that you will enjoy no matter how much excess skin you may experience. It’s important to emphasize that these benefits by themselves make exercise and a healthful lifestyle worth doing. However, it can be quite discouraging if you don’t like how you look.

And the unfortunate reality is that there isn’t much you can do about excess skin. You’re better off when you’re younger, certainly, because skin is much more elastic when you’re younger, it can bounce back a little bit better. As we age, our skin loses that ability (it’s one of the things that leads to wrinkles, in fact). So you aren’t really able to exercise your way to less loose skin. You can tone yourself, sure, but that will only help so much. The only real solution to excess skin is a surgical procedure called body contouring after weight loss, especially if you have a great deal of excess tissue.

What Happens During Body Contouring After Weight Loss

There are a couple of things that surgeons do during a body contouring procedure designed to mitigate excess skin. The first thing they do is eliminate excess skin. The extent of the procedure will depend, of course, on the patient individually. Some patients will only require excess skin removal from around the abdomen. Other patients may require skin removal from around other areas of the body. Much will depend on where you’ve lost weight and where you have excess skin. For some patients, this could mean several procedures.

The one downside to all of this is that, often, body contouring is considered a “cosmetic” procedure and, therefore, is not covered under insurance. There are some budget options if you only have a little bit of excess skin. You could try Fraxel, for example, which is a laser system that offers subtle, skin tightening results. You could also try a few other systems. But if you have a significant amount of excess skin, you will likely have to strongly consider your surgery.

Plan Ahead

That means, if your New Year’s Resolution is going well, you should start also pinching your pennies, planning for the future. Body contouring surgery can be an expensive undertaking, though many surgeons are willing to help out patients in a variety of ways, whether by keeping costs down or offering financing. There are also less expensive options if your needs are on the more subtle side. In any case, achieving your overall look is possible. Many patients who are interested in body contouring after weight loss have either achieved their weight loss through diet and exercise or through bariatric surgery.

However you achieved your weight loss, it is unfortunately true that you cannot use exercise to mitigate excess skin. In order to get rid of that skin, you will have to look into body contouring after weight loss surgery and talk to your plastic surgeon today.

References

  • Body Contouring After Major Weight LossFor Men and Women. (n.d.). Retrieved January 4, 2016, from http://www.plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/body-contouring-after-major-weight-loss.html
  • Gold, M. (2010, January 3). Update on Fractional Laser Technology. Retrieved January 4, 2016, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2921736/
  • Weight loss. (2014, August 5). Retrieved January 4, 2016, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/basics/weightloss-basics/hlv-20049483

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