If you lose a lot of weight quickly after bariatric surgery, you could have loose skin. A certain amount of loose skin is expected and is usually manageable. Here’s what you need to know.

Excess skin often is prevalent in the abdomen, buttocks and upper arms. For some people, it is more of a nuisance than a problem, but loose skin can cause chafing, irritation, infections, rashes and discomfort. Wearing compression clothing or applying loose powder between excess skin can help. It is only in very rare instances that excessive loose skin after weight loss surgery impairs physical activity.

Whether you get loose skin after bariatric surgery depends a lot on the elasticity of your skin. Several factors determine skin elasticity, including, age, nutrition, genetics, smoking status and amount of weight lost.  Some medical conditions – many of which are out of your control – affect the thinning of your skin and determine how well it adapts to major weight loss.

Here are some ways to minimize loose skin after weight loss surgery.

Eat a balanced diet

The post-surgery diet is approached in phases to promote wound healing, overall wellness and to establish healthy eating habits to maintain for life. It is important to follow your doctor’s post-surgical instructions about diet so you can recover and heal from your surgery. In addition to overall wellness and optimized recovery, a good diet keeps your skin healthy and helps it adjust after weight loss surgery.

Supplementation after weight loss surgery

After weight loss surgery, you’ll have to take a multivitamin for life. A variety of vitamins and minerals support skin health, including selenium, zinc and vitamin C. To support overall health and minimize loose skin after weight loss surgery, follow your doctor’s recommendations for vitamins.

Exercise and build muscle

Exercising and building muscle are key to minimizing loose skin. Always follow your doctor’s advice before starting any activity after surgery. Exercising is good for you, and building muscle tightens your skin – it’s a win-win.

Taking care of your skin

Your skin is just like any other organ, if you expect your skin to work right, you must take care of it. Dry brush your skin using a brush with soft bristles. This promotes circulation and pushes nutrients throughout your skin. Massage works in much the same way.

Maintain your goal weight

Once you reach your goal weight, avoid fluctuations. Significant fluctuations can further stretch your skin. Focus instead on maintenance.

Cosmetic surgery

Sometimes, no matter what is done, some people still have loose skin and are dissatisfied with the look. Body contouring plastic surgery is one option. NOTE: If you’re interested in cosmetic surgery for loose skin, you’ll need to wait until your weight has stabilized for several months.

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