Once Upon a Fat Girl

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Is Sagging Skin Inevitable?

I've worried about how my skin is going to react to my losing more than half my body weight. Who wouldn't worry about that? Will my belly hang to my knees? Will my underarms look like my grandma's, soft, squooshy batwings? Will my face sag like a hangdog? What about my legs? Will I end up looking like I'm wearing my skin two sizes too big?

So I did a little Googling and I came up with an article that says lose, flabby skin doesn't have to be the legacy of big weight loss.

That got me thinking. Because I never even heard of the weight loss/saggy skin connection until WLS came into vogue. Really, I remember being shocked when I read about or saw pictures of the empty skin left after losing 200 pounds in a year.

This article says that the reason why there is extra skin is because the person it belongs to has the wrong body composition. He said talked about a woman who, at 5'8", lost 200 pounds, down to the 120s. She had the saggy belly fat. The problem, he said, was that she had 20 pounds too much of body fat. She obviously wasn't 20 pounds over WEIGHT. She was 20 pounds over FAT.

He says that if she GAINED 20 pounds of lean muscle mass, then lost the 20 pounds of fat, she would get rid of the sagging skin.

I wasn't particularily impressed with the rest of this guy's site. He has some stuff about losing 2 pounds of body fat in 3 days, which sounds very diet-y to me. But this one article made sense. And it gave me hope. And another reason to continue to train for a triathlon.

Personally I think I'll be okay in the skin arena. I'm naturally athletic and strong, I have decent muscle tone under all this flab. I don't have a lot of cellulite, and my legs and arms aren't real hangy now. I have a lap, which not all 310 pound women can say! I'm most worried about my stomach, because I carry the vast majority of my weight there, and my boobs. My poor boobs. They are already shrinking the fastest, and I really don't think they're going to pop back into perkiness. I guess we'll see!

Mostly I think the idea is that the reason a lot of people who have WLS have hanging skin is because they lose so much lean muscle mass. The body can only metabolize 2 pounds or so of fat a week. When a lot more than that is lost, you're losing stuff you really want to hold on to, and you end up eventually with too little of the good stuff and too much fat, even at a normal weight.

Hopefully by losing weight the slow and steady way (I'm averaging about 2 pounds a week), and exercising, my skin will survive. I know that reading that article made me want to be more diligent than ever about sticking to strength training. Lifting weights builds the good stuff underneath the fat.

I've noticed something while reading OPBs (other people's blogs!) I think the advent of WLS has brought with it a generation of dieters who want similar FAST results. Even without WLS, a lot of people are doing some pretty spectacular things in order to lose weight faster than 2 pounds a week. I would rather take two years to lose the weight then end up at goal weight with skin hanging off me in sheets.


Blogger kathrynoh said...

I've been watching a few shows on cable lately about tummy tucks and it does seem most of the people have had wls or lost weight quickly. Most of them too still have fat in the areas they are getting tucked - they get lipo as well as the tummy tuck so they must still have some fat to lose.

I worry a lot about loose skin but I think the thought of having major surgery is scarier. I did read an article recently about new developments using non-surgical laser procedures for treatment. It's still being developed but I find that really promising - if it didn't involved cutting, I'd definitely try it.

9:31 AM  
Blogger Living to Feel Good said...

Great attitude! Slow and SteadY! :)

7:15 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

That is very interesting. I've always wondered about that saggy skin thing. I thought that it seemed to be a fairly current thing as well. I guess we've always really known that slow and steady wins the race. :)

8:46 PM  
Anonymous dg said...

helloooo there! just catching up on your blog. i have lost over 170lb over five years, which is excruciatingly slow BUT don't have yards and yards of skin hanging off me. my arms and stomach are a little flabby but nothing like yuo see with folk who've done wls or lost really quickly. i started exercising very early on, and LOTS of weights, which really, really, reeeeeeeeally helps :)

6:34 AM  
Blogger Rob said...

I found a trainer where I live (Scottsdale, AZ)her name is Mina and 8 years ago she lost 100 lbs.! As far as I can tell she has NO loose skin issues. She's 53 and has 6 pack abs now! I've scotch taped her before and after EVERYWHERE for inspiration! Her before and after pics are at her site www.MinaHobbi.com check her out! :-)

10:17 AM  

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