Losing an extreme amount of weight calls for celebration. Extreme weight loss through surgery can be a challenging experience, but the benefits are monumental when it comes to improving your health, altering your physical appearance and extending your lifespan. But, like any surgery, there can be some changes as a result. One of these is excess skin due to weight loss and it is a change we are asked about regularly here at the clinic.
Excess skin occurs when the skin’s elasticity is damaged when it is stretched for a significant amount of time. Your skin’s elasticity is contingent on your collagen and elastin fibre production which is determined by your age and your genetics. As much as we would like to predict which patients are more likely to have excess skin, everybody reacts differently.
For some patients, their skin bounces back to align with their new body weight. But, for more than 70% of people who undergo weight loss surgery, they will experience excess skin in some form. This could be a small amount or it could be more significant. Either way, it is obviously not a desirable outcome after your surgery journey.
While we understand weight loss surgery candidates are concerned about this happening, losing your excess weight is absolutely crucial to reducing your risk of contracting diseases and long-term illnesses.
Can you prevent excess skin?
If you are concerned about excess skin, remember to bring it up for discussion with your doctor or surgeon during your initial assessments for weight loss surgery. There are many factors that play a part in your skin’s ability to reshape after surgery. If you lose a very large amount of weight (say more than 45kg) after weight loss surgery or even by your own accord, it is possible you will have excess skin leftover from where your skin was stretched to accommodate the volume. Then again, your skin may retract as you lose weight. It is unfortunately not something that can be predicted but, your surgeon and medical team can help you by providing trusted referrals for potential solutions down the track if you are affected by this condition.
Will losing weight slowly prevent excess skin?
There are many websites that will tell you if you lose weight slowly enough, you can avoid excess skin, as this will give your body’s dermis time to retract in line with the weight being lost. Again, losing weight slowly is unlikely to affect your individual skin elasticity. This is determined by a combination of different factors including genetics, your age, size and the amount of weight you lose.
Can exercise reduce excess skin from weight loss?
While you may have read otherwise, the short answer is no. As medical professionals, we are continually surprised at the number of websites that claim excess skin due to extreme weight loss can be fixed through vigorous exercise or lifting weights alone. Even though regular exercise is medically recommended by all health professionals for everyone who wants to enjoy good health, it can’t correct skin that is loose due to damaged elasticity. Just as some women are left with loose skin or a ‘tummy flap’ after pregnancy, this type of loose skin cannot be tightened without medical intervention. Obviously, exercise can help tone muscles and define the body – this includes firming and tightening the skin.
Will I need to have it surgically removed?
The good news is that there are solutions for removing excess skin through non-invasive and surgical methods. Your bariatric surgeon can recommend suitable treatments and refer you to another practitioner. If you are looking at non-invasive or surgical removal methods, trust the suggestions provided to you by your surgeon and medical weight loss clinic team. This is because they are likely to have long-standing relationships with plastic surgeons and skin treatment clinics who they, and you, know to trust implicitly.
Concerned about excess skin? Talk to the Winnett Specialist Group.
Excess skin is a genuine concern. As recognised industry leaders in weight loss and bariatric surgery, our team understands all of your queries and can provide you with tailored advice about excess skin during your initial weight loss consultation. To book a consultation please call (03) 9417 1555 or book online.