Loose skin can occur anywhere on your body that has seen rapid weight loss, such as your underarms, thighs, butt or stomach. Loose tummy skin can be particularly frustrating if you want to show off your knew physique beachside. While exercise, such as yoga or running, may have helped you lose the weight, it won’t help you lose the skin.
When your body carries extra pounds because of weight gain or pregnancy, your skin stretches to cover this added girth. Your skin is naturally stretchy because of elastin, a protein that aids with flexibility and is found in the second layer of your skin, the dermis. When skin is stretched too far or damaged by the sun, smoke or aging, the elasticity is lost and it can no longer contract. Once you lose the fat, there is often excess skin hanging down from the hypodermis layer of your skin beneath the dermis.
While running is a highly effective form of exercise, burning between 370 and 620 calories in just 30 minutes for a 150-pound person, it doesn’t do much for your skin. According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise may be able to help the muscle tone you see under your skin, but it can’t help skin that has already lost its elasticity. If you have lost more than 100 pounds and have a large amount of hanging skin, the constant pounding of running coupled with gravity may feel like it makes the sagging worse. Fear not; running will not make your loose skin worse, so don’t use that as an excuse not to hit the treadmill.
Some yoga practitioners claim yoga can help with skin tone and elasticity, but most doctors are skeptical. Hot yoga is often touted as beneficial for skin because the increased temperatures can help with circulation -- this has also never been proven scientifically. Exercise like yoga has more benefits than tightening skin, so don’t stay away from the yoga studio just because it won’t make your loose skin vanish. Yoga can build muscle strength and tone, improving the look of your stomach visible through the loose skin.
If you have loose stomach skin from drastic weight loss, you do have options. Plastic surgery, specifically a panniculectomy, can remove your extra skin. However, plastic surgery, like any surgery, can be dangerous and there is always a risk of life-threatening complications. If you don’t want to go under the knife, eating nutrient-rich foods may also help, as your skin is an organ that needs vitamins and proteins. In fact, your skin is constantly rebuilding itself every 27 days -- give it the right building blocks and some of the elasticity may come back.
- Harvard Medical School: Calories Burned in 30 Minutes of Leisure and Routine Activities
- MayoClinic.com: Arm Lift: Why It’s Done
- Genetics Home Reference: ELN
- MayoClinic.com: Skin Care: 5 Tips for Healthy Skin
- Cleveland Clinic: An Overview of Your Skin
- Cleveland Clinic: Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty) & Panniculectomy
- New York Times: Got Crow’s-Feet? Call the Downward Dog
- Photo Credit Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images