How To Get Rid Of Loose Skin After Weight Loss: The Complete Guide In 2024

how to get rid of loose skin after weight loss
Loose skin can derail your confidence and body image. Photo: Slava Stock/Shutterstock

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Achieving your weight loss goals is a huge accomplishment, made even better when you lose fat without losing muscle. You might notice improved energy levels, an increased metabolic rate, enhanced confidence, and generally better health. However, if you achieved significant weight loss quickly, you might now have the problem of unsightly sagging skin.

So, what can you do about these excess skin folds? Whether you lose weight naturally or through bariatric surgery, you can improve the look of your skin after weight loss. This article explores how to get rid of loose skin after weight loss and why it happens.

How To Tighten Loose Skin After Weight Loss

It’s entirely possible to tighten loose skin after weight loss. Some ways to support and reduce saggy skin include:

  • Exercise.
  • Laser therapies.
  • Microfocused ultrasound.
  • Firming creams.
  • Dietary approaches and oral supplementation.
  • Body contouring surgery.

How To Get Rid Of Loose Skin After Weight Loss

Luckily, many options exist to rid yourself of excess skin. So, let’s look closer at how to tighten loose skin after weight loss. What can you do about it?

Exercise

Exercise
Exercise can help tighten up loose skin. Photo: Basilico Studio Stock/Shutterstock

Arguably, the best way to combat excess skin after weight loss is by doing it the all-natural way. This may be slower but also potentially less expensive. In particular, strength training may help improve skin health and skin tightness.

Research suggests that both resistance and aerobic training improve skin elasticity and dermal structure.[1] Yet, strength training was found also to enhance dermal thickness. In turn, this may improve the skin’s appearance.

Strength training also helps build lean muscle,[2] which may contribute to a tighter appearance overall.

However, it’s important to note that this process may take time. It may only provide mild improvements depending on the excess loose skin present and the elasticity of your skin.

Laser Therapies

Laser therapy, such as infrared light, may improve skin rejuvenation and collagen production.[3] As a result, this may lead to the appearance of younger skin, better skin tone, and skin elasticity.[3]

Yet, multiple treatments are often required to notice results. It can also be expensive, especially considering numerous sessions may be necessary.

Microfocused Ultrasound

A microfocused ultrasound may aid in reducing loose skin by producing heat in the deep layers of the skin. Research suggests this therapy may increase skin tightness[4] and lift the skin, giving way to a better appearance. In particular, this research was done regarding facial tissue.

Also, this method is likely more successful when used alongside other efforts. Other research further indicates that microfocused ultrasounds are well-tolerated and improve skin elasticity.[5]

At the same time, there seems to be little evidence regarding the length of time these effects last. More research would help determine whether or not this offers a permanent option for those seeking to remove excess skin.

Firming Creams

Firming Creams
Topical creams may improve overall skin health. Photo: fizkes/Shutterstock

Loose skin may also be improved through certain topical applications. These creams and serums can also contribute to healthy skin overall.

For example, a retinoid, e.g., retinol, seems to strengthen the epidermis, inhibit collagen loss, and even slow skin aging.[6] This may improve the overall appearance of skin after weight loss.

Dietary Approaches And Oral Supplementation

A diet rich in collagen or collagen supplementation can enhance skin appearance, skin elasticity,[7] and skin hydration.[7] Some collagen-rich foods you may want to include in your diet are bone broth, chicken skin, and organ meats. However, supplementation may have similar outcomes.

Other foods you may want to consider include:

  • Berries: These contain polyphenols, which may help combat damage to the skin.[8]
  • Sweet Potatoes: Rich in vitamin A – a retinoid, sweet potatoes[9] may help maintain healthy skin.[10]
  • Oysters: Oysters[11] are high in zinc and copper, which may have protective effects on the skin.[12]
  • Olive Oil: Olive oil is a great addition to any weight loss or maintenance diet. On top of this, it may also contribute to tissue regeneration[13] and, in turn, improve skin health. However, the studies supporting it were done in cell cultures, not patients. More research is needed to determine if olive oil is most effective orally or topically.

Additionally, fiber-rich foods and drinking water daily may help improve your weight maintenance efforts and skin health at the same time. For instance, beans, vegetables, and legumes can all be great choices for increased fiber intake. Furthermore, water can be enjoyed in different ways, such as cucumber and mint or carbonated water.

It’s important to note an important consideration for healthy weight maintenance using diet pills. Quick fixes may result in regaining the weight if not used as part of a rational weight-loss strategy. This is because healthy and sustainable weight loss requires the development of healthy habits that last a lifetime.

Yet, again, it’s important to consider that eating these foods will only enhance skin health. They won’t necessarily rid your body of extra skin. Instead, they can help improve the skin’s collagen production, elasticity, and health. This may be particularly beneficial after you undergo bariatric or body contouring surgery, as discussed below.

Body Contouring Surgery

Certain body contouring procedures or methods may improve the appearance of saggy skin after weight loss. Research suggests that these methods may further improve physical functioning and psychological well-being.[14] There are also body contouring surgeries, which are more invasive, that may help improve the look of the skin.

Any skin has its elasticity limitations. In extreme obesity, the skin may have stretched beyond these limitations, making the laxity permanent because of scarring. A good example is stretch marks from pregnancy.

If the weight gain in pregnancy is too fast or too much, it overcomes the elastic properties of the skin. After pregnancy, if this has happened, the areas stretched beyond the elastic capabilities remain as scars.

After extreme weight loss in which this has occurred, plastic surgeons may recommend:

  • A tummy tuck.
  • Arm lift surgery.
  • Facelift.
  • Lower body lift.
  • Neck lift.
  • Thigh lift.
  • Upper body lift.

These surgical procedures may leave scarring from incisions. It’s also worth noting that recovery may require a significant amount of time, such as weeks or months. This means it’s up to the individual to decide if this makes sense for them.

However, after weight loss, most individuals with saggy skin will likely require some type of surgery to fully remove it.

Why Does Loose Skin After Weight Loss Happen?

Loose skin happens due to various reasons after weight loss, including the following:

Extreme Or Rapid Weight Loss

The skin is actually the largest organ in the body. It’s also the first line of defense against germs, bacteria, and viruses. Thus, with weight gain, this resilient organ stretches. This ensures everything stays in place and remains insulated.

However, with rapid, subsequent weight loss, the skin responds slowly. True, weight loss is excellent for overall health improvements. Unfortunately, the skin doesn’t have adequate time to adjust. Consequently, you’ll have loose skin.

In contrast, gradual weight loss, such as via a reasonable calorie deficit, gives the body and skin time to adapt. As you move slowly through your weight loss journey, this may mean you are less likely to experience unwanted saggy skin.

Gradual Weight Gain

Inevitably, saggy skin results from gaining weight in the first place. As you gain weight, as above, the skin stretches. If you’ve gained considerable weight, your skin will also stretch significantly.

Aging Skin

Unfortunately, with age, the skin won’t bounce back as it once did. Simply put, saggy and loose skin is more common due to lower skin quality, such as reduced skin elasticity. This means that if you lose weight at a later age, you may be more likely to struggle with excess skin.

How Much Weight Loss Causes Loose Skin

This depends on the individual. However, it’s more likely to happen if the weight loss happens over a short period of time. It all depends on whether the skin is challenged beyond its elasticity. At the same time, it’s more likely to happen if this weight loss happens over a short period of time. 

Conclusion

If you’re looking to tighten your skin after weight loss, the method may depend on how much loose skin you have. In extreme cases, surgery is likely the best option with additional supportive treatments and care. After all, optimal skin health will ensure you look your very best and can confidently step forward.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does loose skin after weight loss go away?

Small amounts of loose skin may eventually retract on its own. Yet, for large amounts of saggy skin, more invasive interventions, like surgery, may be required for full removal.

Is it possible to tighten loose skin?

Yes. Healthy lifestyle approaches, exercise, and proper skin care can tighten loose skin and improve overall skin health.

How long does loose skin take to tighten?

This depends on how much loose skin you have. For some, it could take weeks. For others, it could take months or years, depending on the methods used.

Will I get loose skin if I lose 10 kilograms?

If you lose weight in a healthy, sustainable, and gradual way, loose skin shouldn’t be a concern. This assumes prior circumstances of extreme obesity haven’t caused permanent collagen damage.

+ 14 Sources

EHproject has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We work mostly with peer-reviewed studies to ensure accurate information. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

  1. Nishikori, S., Yasuda, J., Murata, K., Junya Takegaki, Harada, Y., Shirai, Y. and Fujita, S. (2023). Resistance training rejuvenates aging skin by reducing circulating inflammatory factors and enhancing dermal extracellular matrices. Scientific Reports, [online] 13(1). doi:https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-37207-9.
  2. Thomas, M.H. and Burns, S.P. (2016). Increasing Lean Mass and Strength: A Comparison of High Frequency Strength Training to Lower Frequency Strength Training. International journal of exercise science, [online] 9(2), pp.159–167. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4836564/.
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  5. Kerscher, M., Arti Tania Nurrisyanti, Eiben-Nielson, C., Hartmann, S. and Lambert-Baumann, J. (2019). Skin physiology and safety of microfocused ultrasound with visualization for improving skin laxity. Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology, [online] Volume 12, pp.71–79. doi:https://doi.org/10.2147/ccid.s188586.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Krista Bugden worked as a Kinesiologist at a physiotherapist clinic in Ottawa, Canada for over five years. She has an Honours Bachelor Degree in Human Kinetics (Human Movement) from the University of Ottawa and uses her… See More