The fat deposited under the skin in obese people often stretches the skin. Following weight loss after bariatric surgery, the fat is gradually depleted and the skin begins to have a sagging appearance. This loose skin may also be experienced after gastric sleeve surgery.
One of the most effective bariatric procedures is the gastric sleeve surgery. It is restrictive, limits stomach capacity and reduce food intake. Has less complications and low mortality. The weight loss is often substantial and the comorbid diseases are usually reversed or improved.
Loose skin after gastric sleeve surgery is a pointer that you are losing the excess fat and should initially not be a source of worry. It is important to mention that not all patients will have loose skin after gastric sleeve surgery. The following are some of the contributory factors:
Rapid weight loss
The faster you lose weight after gastric sleeve surgery the higher the chance of ending up with sagging skin. Most people that lose weight rapidly after gastric sleeve surgery do not only lose fat but also lose protein in the form of muscle mass. While losing fat, the muscle mass can help keep the elasticity of your skin. However, a rapid weight loss in the absence of muscle building activities often leads to loss of fat and muscle resulting in loose skin.
Genetic make up
Loose skin is inherent in some patients and even after losing small amount of fat they end up having sagging skin fold.
Age also plays an essential role in the cause of loose skin. As you grow older, your skin becomes less elastic and more prone to sagging. If this is combined with significant fat and muscle loss, the end result is a loose skin fold. Hence, the best time to lose weight and avoid loose skin is when you are still young.
Habits such as smoking may aggravate the skin sagging by reducing skin elasticity.
Loose skin after gastric sleeve surgery or other bariatric surgeries is common around the abdominal region, the thighs, the buttocks, and the face. It can also be seen around the neck and the breast. These are areas where a significant amount of fat is usually deposited in obese individuals. Cosmetically, it is unacceptable to many patients, and some may even opt for reconstructive surgeries to remove the excess skin. Also, these skin folds often constitute an enabling environment for microorganisms to grow leading to skin rashes. Loose skin can be prevented by doing the following:
Gradual weight loss coupled with muscle building exercise
The rate at which you lose weight after gastric sleeve surgery is partially out of your control. While you may influence it with your diet and exercise, the outcome varies from one individual to another. What is within your power is your ability to build your muscle by engaging in muscle building/strengthening exercises. This will increase your muscle bulk which will, in turn, fill the space created by the lost fat and tightens your skin.
Many muscle building exercises are available for different muscle groups. Examples include:
- Dumbbell bench-press for strengthening and building the pectoral muscles of the chest, the deltoid muscles on the shoulder and the triceps muscles at the back of the arms.
- Biceps curl exercise for building and strengthening the biceps muscles on the front aspect of the arms.
- Leg extension exercise for building the quadriceps muscles on the front aspect of the thigh.
- Squats for building the muscles of the buttocks.
- Planks for strengthening the muscles of the abdominal wall.
Protein supplements and adequate water intake are also essential in muscle building. They boost muscle protein synthesis and prevent skin dehydration respectively.
Body massage, body wraps and collagen creams are methods that have been deployed to address excess skin after bariatric surgery. While they may work for some individuals, the results are not permanent and often inconsistent.
Nevertheless, many patients may not be satisfied with the outcome of the above measures and therefore require cosmetic surgery to remove the excess skin for a satisfying appearance. The cosmetic surgeries are named according to the area of the body involved.
In conclusion, one of the things you should expect after losing significant weight is the sagging of your skin in certain areas of the body. While you can prevent/minimize it through muscle building exercises, a cosmetic surgery may still be required to remove the excess skin.