People who are considering or have been advised to undergo bariatric surgery need to have realistic expectations about the weight loss journey they are about to embark on. Just because you had surgery doesn’t mean you will instantly look and feel better!
Aside from the fact that coming out of surgery, you will need time to recover, another effect of this procedure is that you will get some loose skin. And since our skin is the body’s largest organ, you’re definitely going to see a lot of loose skin. While our skin is elastic, and able to adjust to our growth from birth to adulthood, there is a limit to how our skin adjusts to these changes.
For example, picture a pregnant woman and her growing belly. We can easily see how much her skin expands around the stomach. Then when she gives birth, her skin goes back to its normal state after a few months – but slightly stretched out, as shown by visible stretch marks.
And you know what that means for morbidly obese individuals who will undergo weight loss surgery? When they lose all that weight, they will still be left with plenty of stretched-out skin that will not go back to its original state!
So what can you do about the loose skin so you actually do look better after surgery? Read on to find out.
Weight Loss And Our Skin: The Relationship
So before you go on thinking that it’s only the weight loss surgery that is the cause of loose skin, do know that any weight loss usually occurs in loose skin, whether it’s surgery or through exercise or dieting. It’s just more pronounced when you’re very overweight. The greater the amount of weight lost, the more visible and pronounced loose skin will be.
Remember the elasticity of the skin which we discussed above? When you gain weight, your skin expands. And when your skin has been significantly stretched and remains that way for a long time, it will lose some of its ability to retract.
Take note that loose skin will not go away on its own or eventually retract. You will have to resort to natural remedies or medical treatments to solve this.
What Is The Effect Of Having Loose Skin?
If you opt to not do anything about your loose skin, do note that loose skin may bring about physical discomfort such as rashes or infections because of your skin chafing. You may also suffer from swelling or ulcers between skin folds located in the groin area. Furthermore, a study of more than 100 patients who requested plastic surgery to have loose skin removed showed that 44% reported suffering from skin pain, ulcers, or infections.
Having loose skin may also affect other physical abilities such as walking or even urinating. It may even impede sexual activity. Therefore, we do recommend that you do something about the loose skin for a better quality of life – it’s not something that’s for purely cosmetic purposes.
How Do You Remove Loose Skin After Surgery?
When it comes to this particular concern, these are some of the options available for you. Do take note that it is best to consult with your doctor for the best path to take. Also, take note that your body needs to fully heal from weight loss surgery before undergoing further medical treatment for loose skin.
Body Contouring Surgery
One option for individuals with a significant amount of loose skin in their bodies after surgery is body contouring. It is a surgical procedure that affects your abdomen, thighs, hips, buttocks, upper arms, face, and other affected parts of your body.
Be aware that this option might require multiple surgeries to remove or tighten loose skin including skin folds and other surrounding tissues in various parts of the body. It is an accepted and even recommended course of action for individuals with a significant amount of loose skin given that the person is in good health and the procedure is done safely by licensed medical professionals.
Since body contouring involves surgery, expect possible complications such as heavy bleeding or infections. Blood clots may also develop in the veins which may travel to your lungs. You may also experience problems with wound healing or nerve damage. And because these are surgical procedures, expect to have scars where the surgery was performed. Over time, these scars will heal but they will remain visible.
Recovery time from surgery may take up to four days before discharge. Expect an additional recovery time of 2- 4 weeks at home after discharge from the hospital.
Other Medical Procedures
Body contouring is the most common way to remove loose skin, but there are other less invasive options with a lower risk of complications, such as:
- Radiofrequency treatment. A radiofrequency treatment may use a mix of infrared light, radiofrequency, and massage to reduce your loose skin. While this treatment doesn’t induce any weight loss whatsoever, it may reduce small areas of fat cells.
- Ultrasound. There have been people who have undergone bariatric surgery and have also undergone ultrasound treatment. They generally had no significant improvement in the loose skin, but they did feel relief from pain and other symptoms.
Do take note that while these procedures are less risky, the results may not be as visible when compared to body-contouring.
Natural Remedies For Loose Skin
There are various natural remedies available to tighten loose skin such as:
- Resistance training. Training with a certified fitness professional will not only help improve the appearance of your loose skin but also grow your muscle mass.
- Take collagen. Some studies have shown that taking collagen will have a protective effect on your skin’s collagen. Not only that, skin elasticity, texture, and hydration may increase significantly after taking collagen.
- Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water may improve your skin’s appearance. Dermatologists recommend staying hydrated, after all, and we do as well! Hydration also helps improve the function of your skin.
- Take certain nutrients. You can also fortify your diet with food rich in the following nutrients to help your body’s production of collagen – protein, Vitamin C, and omega 3 fatty acids. All these keep your skin healthy.
- Use firming creams. There are firming creams with collagen and elastin that are readily available for purchase. You can easily apply them to areas of your body that needs tightening.
Taking or undergoing natural remedies may not work for everyone though, especially those with a considerable amount of loose skin in their body after bariatric surgery.
Overcome Loose Skin Surgery Challenges With The Weight Loss Surgery Center Of Los Angeles
Loose skin is one of the side effects of weight loss surgery. Take heart though that you do not have to go through it alone. If you need to talk more about this, as well as about various weight-loss surgeries, The Weight Loss Surgery Center of Los Angeles is here for you. Dr. David Davytyan and the rest of our team are ready to discuss with you any questions or concerns you may have.
Feel free to schedule a complimentary consultation with us. We look forward to hearing from you!
Posted on behalf of Dr. David G. Davtyan MD, FACS, FICS