There are countless reasons why getting to a healthy weight should be one of your top priorities. Losing weight can lower the risk of heart disease, decrease your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, alleviate the symptoms of arthritis, increase mobility and energy, and boost self-esteem and confidence – just to name a few. That being said, if you are significantly overweight, there’s a chance that your weight loss may leave you with some sagging skin, although it doesn’t happen in all cases.
The possibility of sagging skin should never stop you from working toward a healthy weight, but as you’re losing weight, there are some things you can do to lessen the likelihood that you’ll end up with sagging skin.
Why Does Skin Sag?
Skin contains collagen and elastin – two proteins that are responsible for its elasticity and its ability to “bounce back” after being stretched. As you age, you naturally lose some of this collagen and elastin, which is part of the reason wrinkles start to develop and skin begins to sag.
Collagen and elastin can also become damaged over time and lose their ability to bounce back. Think of it like a rubber-band. If you stretch out a rubber-band, and leave it like that for an extended period of time, eventually, it won’t be able to retain its original shape. This is what happens with skin. If skin becomes stretched out due to weight gain, sometimes it can’t return to its original shape, especially if you’ve been overweight for a while. Another thing that affects skin’s elasticity is yo-yo dieting – or repeatedly losing weight, gaining it back, and then losing it again. When the skin is constantly under those varying degrees of pressure, eventually the collagen and elastin fibers begin to break down and skin may start to sag.
What You Can Do About It
Here’s the good news: although you may not be able to avoid sagging skin completely, there are some things you can do to decreases your chances of experiencing it.
- Lose weight responsibly. Crash diets aren’t just bad for your health; they’re bad for your skin too. The elasticity of your skin cannot keep up with rapid changes in your body size. It’s best to lose weight at a rate of 1 to 2 pounds per week to allow your skin time to shrink back down with changes in your body size.
- Stay hydrated. Your body is composed of about 60 percent water – and the elasticity of your skin is strongly dependent on how hydrated you are. People who stay hydrated during weight loss maximize their skin’s elasticity and decrease the chances that they’ll experience skin sagging as they begin to lose weight. On the other hand, dehydrated skin has less recoil – meaning it doesn’t bounce back as easily during the weight loss process.
- Incorporate resistance training into your exercise routine. Resistance training – also called strength training – doesn’t target the skin specifically, but it can help “fill out” loose skin and reduce the appearance of sagging. The American Council on Exercise recommends adding two or three days of resistance training to improve the appearance of skin and build muscle mass.
- Take supplements. Your skin’s needs access to many different nutrients in order to stay elastic and supple. B-vitamins maintain the integrity of the skin, while collagen supplements can help improve elasticity. In most cases, taking a good multivitamin along with a high-quality collagen supplement provides the right balance of nutrients that you need to keep your skin healthy.
Losing weight is an amazing accomplishment. It takes grit and dedication – and it’s not always an easy road. If you lost weight and you have sagging skin, don’t let it take away from the sense of accomplishment you feel. You’re beautiful and no matter what, love the skin you’re in!