Thursday, December 6, 2012

Excess skin after a large weight loss

Yeah, I've got excess skin after a large ( 72 pounds on a 5'1" frame) . I lost 38-39% of my body weight in 10 months. Add in the following facts:  One C-section, mid-40's, post (or almost) menopause. Yep!!!  The skin is here to stay. I probably won't remove it, but never say never.

What it is:

Excess skin on both arms, stomach, abdomen, thighs.  Nooooo, this is not a side show. No photos. Instead, cool surfing sand dog sculptures. This photo is much more pleasant. Trust me.

I find this whole topic kind of "Ewww". But, I did promise Vickie I would post and extra skin is a fact of large weight losses.

The good:

  • I can hide the skin super well in clothing and it looks mostly okay, in most clothes.
  • Right now, I have no medical problems with the skin.
  • I accept my extra skin and it's rolling ways, most days.
  • I am sooooo much happier with extra skin vs 72 pounds overweight.
  • Strength training helps some. 
  • No surgery risks if I leave the skin alone.
  • I'm past my "beauty days" and I'm going for functional (borrowed  quote from a former supervisor)
  • I have close family members that deal with major medical problems day in and day out. This is nothing on their scale of life. I count myself lucky. Their stuff is tough, my stuff is easy. 
The not so good:
  • Sometimes, mentally, my skin does bother me. Not for long. More annoying than devastating.
  • My skin flutters when I swim in a pool . It feels weird. I boogie board and go tide pooling more than I swim these days. 
  • One arm is has more funky skin than the other. 
  • If I loose anymore weight, I will not fit into clothes so well due to the skin. 
The good list is longer than the not so good. That works for me. 


  1. Skin issues are a fact of life with large weight loss. I'm with you on the bottom line though. I'd rather have some skin issues than weigh over 300 pounds any day of the year.

  2. Yep. Me too to most of what you've talked about. Pretty it isn't, but an added bonus (?) in my case is that the belly skin floats in the bath. Amuses my lovely hubby, anyhow :-)

  3. Just yesterday one of my instructors asked if I thought I would ever have my excess skin fixed (-80 lbs on 5' 6" frame and now down to the lower end of normal bmi so there isn't anywhere to hid it). She was talking about my belly skin. I said that my days of two piece swim suits were long over and it hides so well in clothes (it does not fold over on itself, it is just major 'wrinkles') that I would probably never have that done. I said if I ever had anything done it would be the excess to the back of my side under and behind my arm pits. But I honestly think that might be getting better. I have learned how to access my latts and upper back muscles a lot better. The areas that AMAZE me (where by all rights I should have major excess skin and do not) are my arms and my neck. Very good bras do a lot for chest and posture. And I choose my clothes very well.

    Somewhere back in my archives I do have an underwear picture. It was an honest look at my belly wrinkles. Not saying everyone should. Just saying I did. I WISH I had underwear starting pictures. Never occurred to me to take them, because I just sort of slid into weight loss with no intention of getting rid of my weight.

    I have done yoga, pilates, free weights (sometimes one more than others, some times all three like right now) ALL the way down the scale and through maintenance. I agree, it makes a huge difference. I see people who have never lost weight who have far worse excess skin problems than I do. I think genetics has a lot to do with it also. I am 51 with really good facial skin (people comment on it all the time) and no gray hair (not one).

    I also wanted to add that I gained a 1/2 inch in height when I lost all my weight and started exercising. I think that sort of sums up what has happened to my body.

    Good post.

    1. That's awesome that you gained height once you lost weight, Vickie. Osteoporosis runs in my family, so I'll have to be careful about loosing height as I age. I agree- genetics has a lot to do with skin elasticity. Thanks for sharing.

  4. if maintenance is a challenge, i hear that skin-removal surgery makes the case easier. in that situation you're also getting rid of a number of "deflated fat cells" which do not secrete leptin and just beg the brain to increase appetite.

    1. Interesting thought, Tess. If I ever need abdominal surgery for other things, I'll have to consult with a plastic surgeon. They are a dime a dozen here in So. Cal. I still may choose not to have it done.

  5. I was wondering if the problem of excess skin comes up mostly after you loose the "last 20"?
    Can you have the skin removal procedure If there is still a fat layer underneath, or do you need to be closer to fat free? I know very little about this. I have lost 55lbs this year, 5'10" 53 YO male and it is not a problem at this time. I have about 20 to go and am hoping that since it is no problem now, that it will not be an issue later.

    1. Good question, TJ. I know that I've maintained my weight over 10 months now and my body has leaned itself out over those 10 months, probably because of my diet. In that time, more excess skin, but with the strength training, it looks different. Congrats on your success. My doc did not have anything to say about my excess skin, probably because it was not a medical problem.

    2. My last 20 pounds moved me from the high end of normal BMI to the lower end of BMI. And that 20 pounds was all between the bottom of my arms pits and the top of my hip bones - mostly belly.

      So one could say that my last 20 lbs created more of a excess skin issue.

      But in fact losing those last 20 lbs was what I had to do to get rid of the unhealthy belly weight (and be proportional in clothes). I think this is a factor of insulin resistance. If I dug down and lost more (which isn't really there to loose, but just saying for purpose of discussion), it would come out of my belly too. And I could say that increased excess skin too. It is all related to insulin resistance (where I carry my excess fat).

      Someone who carries their weight more proportionately (all over their body) probably would not have as many excess skin issues.

      I do think there is a magic number on the scale where if the weight is high enough, then there are going to be more major skin issues. For example the folding over on itself level of excess skin that often requires surgery.

      I only lost 80 lbs which in weight loss land, is a relatively low number.

      I am not sure where the magic number is, but those who loose half their original body weight or more are dealing with real skin issues.

      those of us with lower starting weights are dealing with more vanity skin issues. And honestly, life does not require a two piece bathing suit.

      And speaking for myself only, I think there should be consequences for the fact that I let my weight get so high. I think a wrinkly belly that can be camouflaged under the right clothes is an excellent reminder of where my old habits got me and where my new habits keep me.

  6. Thanks for this post!

    I lost 110 pounds and I have loose skin, mostly on my stomach and a little under my arms. No matter how much weight I lose, how much I work out, I how much strength training I do to tighten up my muscles, it's always there. It's really hard because mentally I get down on myself about it. I feel VERY self-conscious about my stomach.

    We went to Hawaii this summer and I wore a bikini for the first time ever. I was nervous and self-conscious but I did it anyways--I mean, I'm never going to see these strangers again, right? While I wear a size 2 or 4 in jeans, and am very fit, my stomach skin was still a bummer. :(

    1. I hear you about all of this , Lisa. My stomach is what bothers me the most from time to time. I know for a fact that I cannot go lower in clothing sizes at this point. Which is okay now. Size 4 in most clothes. Petite, too. There is very little selection in clothing most places lower than that, so in a way it's okay. I'm not sure I'll ever wear a bikini. I like the wearing it during travel idea.

  7. I am starting to notice this a bit with me now. It hasn't yet become a major issue but it probably will in the future. At the end of the day, it is still worth it. I am with you on that one!! I plan to have another surgery when I'm completely done to put myself back together. Hopefully I'll end up like the Bionic Woman!! LOL

    1. LOL, Holly- you will be the 6 million dollar woman... que music now... I loved that show when I was a kid. I think it's smart to have surgery at a certain point. I know it can make all the difference how your life is day-today. Good luck with this part of your journey.