Let’s talk skin sagging.
This is a big issue for a lot of obese people, men and women, who are thinking of or who are losing weight, especially those of us over that age where everything just snaps back into place or where gravity hasn’t even started to have an impact yet. Although there are young people who have very loose skin just as young people can suffer stretch marks. It’s not entirely the domain of the older person.
Most of us do not want to end up with bags of loose empty skin hanging around when we finally reach our goal and some use this fear as an excuse to not lose weight. It maybe looks unsightly but it can also cause chaffing and soreness, infections and all kinds of non aesthetic related woes. Even if you are happy to look good with clothes on and not so bothered about your naked appearance, even if you are happy to tuck it all in and hold it all together in shapewear or hide it with the fashion choices you make it would be great if we could avoid baggy, empty skin without going under the knife or at least minimise its potential to replace our fat as something which prevents us from getting the most enjoyment as possible out of life.
Well, rain check, this could be impossible, regardless of age but more likely to be impossible the older you are and relative to the speed with which you lose weight. Skin is a living thing, it is our body’s largest organ, it has a really important job to do besides just keeping us looking more appealing than we would without it. This is good news, that skin is living, because it means we can take care of it, influence it, nourish and even repair it and help it not to sag too much too soon. Even if we only manage to reduce the amount of sagging and bagging it is something and the time to do that is not when you’re at goal it is when you start to lose weight.
If you can take care of your skin while you are on your path to the new slim you. you will probably have a better end result than if you ignore you skin and then try to deal with it at the end of the road when it’s left hanging there.
Some of the things you are doing as part of your dietary and exercise changes will be helping your skin already from the inside out but there are still more we can do to try to help and even if they don’t help that much we’ll feel better and the skin we do have on show will be glowing and healthy as a result.
Also don’t give up on it straight away, skin can take up to 2 years to catch up to the rest of the body’s shrinkage so you might find that long after you’ve stopped shrinking your skin carries on, so take good care of it post weight loss in the same way you did during the weight loss and wait a while before you think about going under the knife or before you think you are stuck with it forever. These are some of the things you can be doing during and post weight loss to give it a helping hand.
Exercise – not only to tone muscles which will hold your body and your skin better in place but stretching exercises can increase the suppleness and elasticity of the skin and also sweat produces sebum which is the skin’s own moisturiser.
Exfoliate – remove all of the dead cells, toxins and grime from your skin at least once a week with a good exfoliation either using a home made natural exfoliant or a brush or mitt. Here are some great home made body scrub recipes from Treehugger
Steam room – following on from exercise above and the value of sweating, go sit in a steam room for ten minutes and see those natural oils start to flow out from your pores, rub it all in. Sit in that steamy room in your bikini, or wrapped in a towel and massage those oils back into your skin. When you leave a steam room take a couple of minutes to sit and let the oils be reabsorbed before showering or better still immersing yourself with fully cleansed, open pores into a mineral spa jacuzzi or hydropool and then taking a cold shower to seal all of that goodness in. I’ve noticed that when I’m fat I produce a lot more oil from my skin in a steam room than when I’m not fat so make the most of it and go use the steam room while you’ve got a rich supply of oil to rub back in. A lot of gyms, leisure centres and spas let you use such facilities on a pay per use or day rate so you don’t even have to be a member and can keep costs affordable to indulge yourself. Don’t worry about exposing yourself either, you can do as the ladies in the picture and sit in a towel or you can do what I do, go in with a swim suit and towel over and once I’m in the steam room I decide if I’m feeling good enough that day to take the towel off or not. My spa has a dark steam room so nobody can hardly see anyone else anyway.
Moisturising – following on from the above take care to moisturise your skin daily at least once a day and especially after you’ve showered. I am seeing great results with my skin shrinking in line with my weight loss and don’t have anything hanging yet. I use Vitamin E Body Butter from the body shop, I also use their vitamin E face cream, in fact I use the whole Vit E range, when they have their 50% off sales stock up on the stuff to keep costs down. Get someone else to rub your creams in to make it even more fun. I don’t just mean your other half either, when my kids were little they used to love rubbing my cream in after I’d done theirs and those baby soft little hands can be so relaxing and it’s such lovely bonding time. I’m a great believer in communal bathing and pampering I loved seeing it on my travels and think it’s a shame that we are too hung up or scared to practice it as a matter of course in the west anymore. Oils such as bio oil or cheaper alternatives with the same ingredients are also good, I use this on my chins to try to stave off that wobbly chicken throat look and also on my boobs where much help is needed and I also rub a little in under my arms to avoid bingo wings, around my inner thighs, and on my belly. Basically use it where there is greatest potential for sag to happen. As a rule with moisturisers stick to ones which contain Vits A, C and or E. Here’s a link to the Bodyshop’s huge vitamin E range.
Diet – keep that diet full of fruits and veggies, lots of antioxidants in the diet, lots of Vitamin C, have variety in what you consume, make sure your cover all of the colours of the fruit and veg spectrum in a three day period and repeat. Since I’ve been consuming Kefir and Kombucha daily I have noticed a huge improvement in my skin (again this could be due to diet and exercise and steaming and creams BUT I’ve never noticed this good an improvement). Kefir promotes a healthy gut and allows for better absorption of nutrients from your food so it figures why that would maybe promote healthier skin and Kombucha acts as an effective detox which ensures liver and kidneys are functioning well and also impacts on the function of the digestive tract and the blood and so helps to provide the skin with nutrients, rid it of toxins and helps to promote a healthy oxygen supply through the blood. Here’s a link to the BBC’s Good Food site with advice on how to eat yourself to a healthy skin.
Tanning – tanning dries the skin so if you’re out getting some sun really slap on that sun screen and buy one that has nourishing ingredients if possible. Get into the sea, use sand as a natural exfoliant and try to stick to pools with salt water if you can and avoid chlorine although this isn’t always possible but do try to combat its effects by showering well and following a swim with a good layer of moisturiser. Too much exposure of bare skin to the sun isn’t good for other reasons so as all things, good in moderation. That vitamin D hit is essential though so don’t be a total recluse from the sun’s rays. Remember healthy moisturised hydrated skin tans better too so make moisturising part of your routine before you get around to tanning and after tanning use lashings of after sun or regular moisturiser. If you do burn your skin exfoliate and lather on natural yoghurt let that absorb then shower off and use an aloe vera based moisturiser.
Massage – back to the point above, a nice massage, either professional or amateur does the world of good, they can get to areas you find hard to reach and you are more likely to have those nutrients worked well into your skin by someone else rather than when you are rushing as part of your daily routine. Massage also helps to stretch and increase elasticity and suppleness of the skin, it helps to relax and de-stress and also helps with toning of muscles and release of toxins. Here’s a link to some fab home made massage oils from Mountain Rose
Smoking – avoid or stop this. It’s not good.
Stress – avoid this too, It can prevent the skin from functioning well and lead to skin irritations, inflammations, damage the thin membranes which protect cells from damage and all manner of other ill effects. Take time to relax, meditate, chill out, tai chi, massage anything which focuses your mind on resting, on calmness, on good thoughts and which allows you to breathe properly because oxygenating the skin is important.
Facial Skin – be careful about which cosmetics you use and allow yourself make up free time, cleanse tone and moisturise and have a facial now and then, either at home or a salon. Have a good nourishing face mask once a week and exfoliate with a natural exfoliant once or twice a week. When you hit a milestone treat yourself to a micro-dermabrasion they are wonderful for sloughing off the dead cells and rejuvenating the skin and if you are really adventurous and want a whole new fresh look why not treat yourself to the odd non surgical face lift or a facial peel. I know people who have had both and they look amazing afterwards. Here are some great facial scrub recipes to try at home from About Style
Speed of weight loss – the best way to avoid baggy skin is to ensure that your weight loss is slow and steady so that your skin has time to adjust to the size of its new filling, variously a loss of between 1-5 lbs per week is considered to be something the skin can cope with so even the experts don’t really know. For some people a fast loss is unavoidable due to health reasons, sickness or the method of weight loss which works for them but still everyone can take care of what they have while they are shrinking to minimise the extent of skin bagging at the end by doing all of the other good stuff.
Of course there is something to be said for genetics too. If you are prone to baggy skin there may be only one way to deal with it at the end of the journey and that could be to have it surgically removed or to live with it, but trying to fend it off is not going to do you any harm and as I said, the skin you do display will be beautiful, healthy and glowing.
At the end of the day some people might think that some saggy skin is a small price to pay for the health and lifestyle benefits losing weight has brought them and nothing to be concerned with and I kind of agree, I don’t think I’m going to be upset if I have some pouches at the end of the day but staving them off isn’t going to do me any harm and taking care of my skin which is prone to disease just like any other organ is all part of a holistic approach to keeping myself healthy and hopefully alive and kicking for a bit longer.