You've worked hard, cleaned up your diet, shed the excess weight and are much fitter physically and mentally.
The only frustrating element is the unsightly bits of loose skin that’s hanging from one or more of these body parts – stomach, neck, back, buttocks, arms and thighs.
It’s affecting your self-esteem and you’re looking for a solution to fix this sag.
Losing a lot of weight in a short period of time can sometimes result in excess skin in unwanted areas, which can be difficult to reverse. It can happen from pregnancy, weight loss surgery or ageing.
Basically, the innermost layer of your skin consists of proteins, including collagen (which provides firmness and strength) and elastin (provides elasticity and helps your skin stay tight).
If you’ve been big (overweight) and the excess fat distends the skin, putting it in a stretched position for a long time, the collagen and elastin fibres become damaged.
As a result, they lose some of their ability to retract or shrink with weight loss.
Replacing that lost fat with muscle mass can lessen the appearance of loose skin.
Oftentimes, loose skin is a problem for those who only do cardio exercises without adding strength training to their routines.
Hence, it is important to lose weight by combining cardio and strength training exercises with a balanced diet.
If you lose the additional weight from changing your diet first, and then add on exercise, it’s harder to get rid of this loose skin.
There are several non-invasive ways to tighten this loose skin but it may not always work. Still, it’s worth giving it a shot.
Water will naturally keep your skin smooth, plump, hydrated and improve its elasticity.
It’s the best drink to have during and after a workout (or at any time) instead of sugary sodas, fruit juices, coffees and teas.
Strength training can help tone and tighten underlying muscles and as a consequence skin, especially if you focus on specific areas that need tightening.
For example, if your core is the problematic area, work harder on your abdominal muscles.
Aim for at least twice a week or more using dumbbells, barbells or resistance bands.
However, you will have to be patient to see results, which will creep in usually after a month.
Cut out sugar and processed food as much as possible.
If there are any gaps in your diet, find the right supplements by speaking to your doctor or healthcare professional.
The sun is the best source of vitamin D but chronic sun exposure has been shown to reduce the skin’s collagen and elastin production, which may contribute to loose skin.
Spend no more than 15 minutes per day in direct sunlight to prevent skin damage, and to help your skin maintain elastin.
I’m not a believer in firming creams but applying moisturisers containing vitamins C, B3 and E is supposed to help enhance the production of collagen in the dermis.
It also helps prevent dryness, which can worsen the appearance of loose skin.
Magnesium lotion, besides having a soothing effect, can also enhance skin elasticity and hydration. Massage the cream or lotion in the loose skin areas for a minute to improve blood circulation.
Apparently, there are more than 4, 000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, and many of them trigger the destruction of collagen and elastin.
Even being around second-hand smoke can affect the building blocks of the skin. In fact, researchers have also identified smoking as a top cause of sagging breasts!
If you’ve already tried a number of different ways to tighten stubborn pockets of loose skin and nothing has worked, and it is causing you physical and emotional distress, then it’s time to consult a cosmetic surgeon to learn more about other treatments.
Revathi Murugappan is a certified fitness trainer who tries to battle gravity and continues to dance to express herself artistically and nourish her soul. For more information, email email@example.com. The information contained in this column is for general educational purposes only. Neither The Star nor the author gives any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to such information. The Star and the author disclaim all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.