So many times, when I am reading weight-loss sites or message boards or other blogs, one of the top concerns people have is: what about loose skin?? Will I lose all this weight and look like a shar-pei or a deflated balloon? Will I look even WORSE when I am thin than I did when I was morbidly obese, because of hanging curtains of excess skin?? People are near frantic about this topic. Me? I never cared about it. I never lost enough weight before to see any hint of loose skin. Let's face it: when you weigh as much as 3 fourth graders, losing 35 pounds is *not* going to result in tons of hanging skin. I never lost this much weight before, and I just figured my skin would snap back into place and be like it was before.
About ten pounds ago the reality hit me: You cannot stretch 30 inches of skin to SIXTY inches and expect it to somehow *poof* those extra 30 inches of skin away into thin air when you lose weight. (Those measurements are referring to MY HIPS. Think about it. My body had to produce or stretch the hip-skin enough to cover DOUBLE the area around my body. And now I expect it to just poof away? Get real.) When you really look at your measurements, it is clear WHY this is such an issue. I mean, my thigh is the size of a skinny girl's WAIST. Just what do we expect our bodies to do with all the extra skin it has had to produce because of our eating? Ugh. If only someone had told me ten years ago!!
And so, with 59 pounds gone, I suddenly noticed that my skin is no longer stretched tight like a stuffed sausage. It is kind of saggy in places... not BAD, but loose, squishy, soft. It's like a deflated balloon. And I imagine it will only be more noticeable as the weight comes off. But let me tell you this: not for ONE SECOND do I think I would prefer to have nice tight skin and be 278 pounds, rather than be a normal weight with loose skin. I will take the loose skin and a normal, healthy life! And if you are really distressed about it, you have two choices. You can have skin removal surgery when you get to your goal. Or, if you really hate the skin problem and don't want surgery, and find yourself longing for your formerly tight, fat-filled skin, you can always gain back all the weight. Right?
In the meantime, I am going to do whatever I think might help to minimize the loose skin problem. I know that things like genetics and age play a part. If you're young, your skin might snap back in time. If you are not TOO overweight or not for a long period of time, that is also in your favor. But for me, at 38 and having been severely obese for 10+ years, I know I am likely to have issues. There is, according to all my research, no proven way to prevent or tighten up loose skin. But my own common sense tells me that improving skin hydration (moisture) and circulation may help. So here is what I am doing to try and minimize the problem:
1. I drink a lot of water to stay hydrated, and I take vitamins. I eat healthy fats like olive oil, nuts, and avocados. A healthy diet yields healthier skin.
2. I use lotion. Often. I get good quality lotions (I like Aveeno) and body butters and I use them every day, especially on the "problem" areas (hips, belly, thighs, upper arms, neck). I also bought a couple bottles of firming lotion. I know this stuff is not going to "fix" everything, but it can't hurt, either. So I use the firming lotion on the trouble spots as well.
3. I use a body brush before I shower. I read on the web about the practice of dry skin brushing, using a brush with natural bristles. I have sensitive skin and it took me a month of looking around various stores before I found a brush that was natural AND very soft for my skin. It was $3. I brush my dry skin starting at my feet and brushing up my legs, and then from my hands and along my arms, and then over my body as described on any website you can Google by searching for dry skin brushing. It takes me about 5 minutes.
4. I do a nice massage on my skin, especially trouble spots, in the shower. I want to improve circulation, plus it feels good.
That's about it. I have no guarantees this will do ANYTHING for the loose skin, but my skin does look better and feel softer. I enjoy taking care of myself in these ways, too. Only time will tell how much of a problem the loose skin will be. I have read that usually, when you get down to an acceptable body weight without much fat on your body, the skin tightens up significantly. Also that toning the muscles under the fat may help your appearance as well. So, we shall see!
In reality, if there's loose skin, so be it. It doesn't change the fact that I want to lose this weight and be healthy. I will get there, and deal with any issues as they happen.
Thursday Update: July 23, 2014
8 hours ago