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What is Loose Skin?

Loose Skin describes areas of the skin that have become less elastic, and saggy. It can happen all over the body but is more common on the stomach, upper arms, thighs, and face and neck.

As you age, your skin loses key structural proteins - collagen and elastin, and the underlying muscles weaken, leading to loose, excess skin. Sudden weight loss can also lead to loose skin.


How to Tell the Difference Between Loose Skin and Fat?

You can differentiate between loose skin and fat by looking at the texture, appearance and consistency.

  • Pinch test: Gently pinch the area in question. If you grasp a thin layer of skin with minimal substance, it is likely loose skin. If the pinched area feels thicker and you can feel softness underneath, it’s most likely fat.
  • Texture and appearance: If your skin appears thin, saggy, wrinkly, or lacks plumpness, you likely have loose skin. Excess fat underneath the skin gives it a fuller, more rounded appearance.
  • Consistency: loose skin has a thin consistency that lacks firmness. Fat feels softer and has a spongy feel. 

Determining whether you have loose skin or fat is essential, as it will determine the next best steps for treatment options. 


What Causes Loose Skin?

Various factors like age, sudden weight loss, sun exposure and pregnancy can disrupt your skin’s natural elasticity, leading to a saggy and stretchy appearance.

  • Ageing: The amount of Collagen and Elastin, the two proteins responsible for skin’s firmness and elasticity, decreases with age. It leads to thinner and less resilient skin that is prone to sagging.
  • Weight loss: When you lose significant weight quickly, the skin that was stretched over a larger area may not completely retract to fit your body’s new size. This results in excess skin that looks loose.
  • Sun exposure: Prolonged exposure to sunlight's UV radiation destroys collagen and elastin in your skin, causing it to prematurely loosen and sag.
  • Lifestyle factors: Poor diet and smoking can cause your skin to age prematurely, giving it a loose appearance. Nutritional deficiencies, exposure to environmental pollutants, and dehydration have similar effects on your skin’s health.
  • Genetics: Some people have a genetic predisposition that makes them more susceptible to developing loose skin.
  • Pregnancy: The rapid expansion of the abdominal skin to accommodate a growing baby during pregnancy can stretch the skin. After giving birth, the skin might not retract fully, leaving loose skin on the stomach.

Why Can Loose Skin Be a Problem?

Physical discomfort and self-consciousness due to Loose Skin can reduce your overall quality of life, which is why it can become a problem. 

Physical discomfort and health issues

Excess skin may cause chafing, irritation, rashes, or infections, especially in areas where the skin folds over. In severe cases, the moisture trapped in these areas can exacerbate this issue, making it challenging to maintain proper hygiene. The added weight of the excess skin can also limit your mobility and physical activity, leading to muscle weakness and a sedentary lifestyle.

Psychological impact

Many people experience a decline in self-esteem caused by loose skin, potentially leading to anxiety, depression, and emotional distress. Changes in body image and psychological stress can also affect your relationships. Intimacy issues can also arise due to self-consciousness or perceived unattractiveness, straining romantic relationships.


Which Areas of the Body Can Be Affected by Loose Skin?

Loose skin affects the face, neck, abdomen and thighs. The impact on specific body parts can influence both physical appearance and functionality.

  • Abdomen: Losing skin laxity in the abdomen is common after weight loss or pregnancy. The skin and tissues in this area can stretch considerably, and after weight loss and childbirth, they may not return to their original firmness, leading to saggy belly skin.  
  • Arms: Loose Skin in the upper arms, called “Bingo Wings”, is common after a significant weight loss or due to ageing. The skin droops when you lift or extend your arms, causing discomfort or self-consciousness.
  • Buttocks: Significant weight loss often leads to a loss of volume and firmness, resulting in saggy buttocks.
  • Chest: Both men and women experience sagging in the chest area following massive weight loss or ageing. In women, this is compounded by breastfeeding and saggy breasts.
  • Face and neck: Ageing affects the skin of your face and neck, causing it to sag and develop lines and wrinkles. Significant weight loss can also result in less plumpness in the face, resulting in a drooping appearance, particularly around the jowls, cheeks and neck. 
  • Thighs: After a significant weight loss, your inner and outer thighs are prone to skin laxity. This often causes chafing and discomfort during physical activities and affects your quality of life.

Non-Surgical Options for Treating Loose Skin

Several non-surgical treatments are available to address loose skin, including Microneedling and Radiofrequency Treatments. If you have mild to moderate skin laxity, these non-surgical options can tighten skin and improve its texture across the body.

  • Radiofrequency treatments: The procedure involves heating the deeper layer of your skin, called the dermis, with radiofrequency (RF) waves. It stimulates Collagen and Elastin production, leading to tighter, firmer skin.
  • Microneedling with Radiofrequency (RF): Treatments like Morpheus8 combine Microneedling with RF to stimulate collagen production. Such treatments can tighten facial skin and remove wrinkles and fine lines.

Non-surgical methods have several advantages, including being non-invasive and having no downtime, but they might not be able to address excess loose skin effectively on their own. It’s important to have realistic expectations and consult with your surgeon to determine the best treatment for your situation. Non-invasive options are often popular for the abdomen area, as people wish to avoid the recovery period.


How to Get Rid of Loose Skin with Surgery?

There are several surgical options available, including Abdominoplasty, Brachioplasty, Breast Lift, Thigh Lift, and more.

Abdomen

A Tummy Tuck, or Abdominoplasty, removes loose belly skin and fat and restores weakened abdominal muscles, giving you a firmer abdominal profile. The procedure is ideal if you have flabby tummy skin after pregnancy or significant weight loss. Tummy Tuck is also popular for men and can effectively tighten the abdominal muscles for a defined and more athletic midsection

Arms

An Arm Lift, also known as Brachioplasty, is a loose skin surgery that removes the sagging skin from your upper arms, giving them a toned appearance. The surgery can also eliminate Bingo Wings and give your arms a more youthful appearance. 

Breasts

A Breast Lift removes Loose Skin and excess tissue to lift the breasts. It’s a sought-after procedure for women who have breasts that hang lower than they would prefer. The procedure improves the shape and tone of your breasts.

Buttocks

A Buttock Lift, also called a Bum Lift, reshapes your buttock, alters its volume, and removes excess skin and fat, resulting in a firmer appearance and feel. Combining this procedure with fat transfer in a procedure called a Brazilian Butt Lift is increasingly popular to enhance the result and restore lost volume.

Thighs

A Thigh Lift targets excess skin and fat in the thigh area to enhance the contour of your upper legs. Depending on your needs, the procedure can focus on the inner or outer thighs or both. The procedure may combine Liposuction along with skin excision, depending on your individual needs resulting in slimmer and smoother legs.

Discussing your skin removal surgery options with an experienced cosmetic surgeon before committing to a procedure is essential. Our surgeons at Cadogan Clinic ensure you get personalised advice and understand all your options, including the risks and benefits.

How Can I Get Rid of Loose Skin on My Face and Neck?

A Facelift or Neck Lift tightens the skin on your mid and lower face and neck, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles caused by weight loss or ageing. Both Face and Neck Lift procedures can be combined with other surgeries to enhance the overall result and treat the overall signs of ageing, as well as just excess skin.

For patients who are concerned about loose skin on the upper section of their face, a Brow Lift is a popular procedure which lifts and smooths the area above the cheekbones. Sagging skin around the eyes is also a very common concern that arises with age; an Upper or Lower Blepharoplasty effectively targets this to open the eyes and smooth any lines and wrinkles.


Words From Our Founder

Mr. Bryan Mayou

Excess, loose skin after significant weight loss or pregnancy can be a profound concern for many. Addressing this loose skin through surgery not only restores the appearance of the body, but also bolsters one's confidence. For some, the discomfort of loose skin outweighs any self-conciousness they felt before they lost weight, affecting clothing choices and limiting mobility. My goal is always to create a natural and flattering result by removing and tightening any excess skin to allow patients to show their body with confidence.
Mr. Bryan Mayou

FAQs

Loose Skin may gradually improve over time, especially if you’re young and have mild to moderate excess skin. A significant amount of excess skin, after rapid weight loss or pregnancy, often doesn’t retract fully. Losing excess skin after weight loss and pregnancy may require professional surgical or non-surgical treatments.

You can avoid Loose Skin after losing weight, provided it’s done gradually. Throughout your weight loss journey, be sure to stay hydrated and incorporate a balanced diet rich in vitamins to support skin elasticity.

A Mummy Makeover is a tailored combination of cosmetic procedures to restore your body post-pregnancy, including treating loose skin. It typically includes several procedures, such as a Tummy Tuck, Breast Lift and Liposuction.

Patients typically lose between 1.4kg and 2.3kg after a Tummy Tuck. Mini Tummy Tuck patients often lose approximately 0.8kg. However, Tummy Tucks aren’t a weight loss procedure. They primarily remove excess skin and some fat gets removed in the process. 


Treatments mentioned in this article



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