How to Remove Loose Skin

I have loose skin from losing weight.  The problem areas (at the present time) look to be my stomach, upper chest, upper arms, and my upper thighs.

I traded 110 pounds for probably 2-3 pounds of loose skin. By the time I’m done losing 150 pounds, I’ll probably have 4-5 pounds of lose skin.

From what I’ve read, loose skin is a physical imperfection that I have no way of fixing anytime soon.  I’ve been researching the topic for months and have found a variety of methods to deal with loose skin.  With that being said, a lot of options are marketed and sold by charlatans and snake oil salesman.

A few real possible options for removing loose skin includes:

  • waiting
  • muscle building
  • surgery
  • creams & lotions

Waiting. Skin is fairly elastic and can simply retract to fit your new body over a few years.  However, the more weight you lose (and the quicker you lose it) the less likely your skin will ever looks like it “fits” you.

Muscle building. By building muscle, I’ll make myself large again with weights instead of cookies.  My loose skin will mold around my new muscles.

Surgery. I’ve seriously considered surgery to remove loose skin.  Typically, surgery is the first option people think of when they decide to lose loose skin.  I’m not sure why.  While it is extremely effective in removing loose skin, it also gives you a permanent scar for the rest of your life.. I’ll go further into depth about my reasons against surgery to remove loose skin later on, but the main reasons include its cost (high $X,XXX), permanent scar(s), and its seriousness.

Regardless, tummy tuck surgery will probably be in my future plans.

Creams and lotions.
There are countless sites featuring reviews of stretch mark creams and other lotions that are designed to tightened loose skin and erase the effects of rapid weight loss.  Most loose skin products have reviews right in the middle of the road, with some people seeing results and other people seeing nothing at all.  I might try a lotion or two, but I’m not investing too much time or money — it might just be one of the other countless scams out there.

My ultimate plan for losing loose skin?  Build muscle over the next 1-2 years.

I want to build a lot of muscle.  I’m not going to hover around 194 pounds for long, I plan on turning right back around and going into the 200s again.  I want to add about 30 pounds worth of lean muscle to my frame.

Do you have any advice or ideas for removing loose skin?

39 thoughts on “How to Remove Loose Skin”

  1. I had a friend that used a cream a few years ago to remove stretch marks and made her stomach seem ” smooth”.. I don’t really remember the name, but I can ask her.

    Remember though, you are losing this weight to be healthy. I know you want to look good to, but even if you have loose skin you will live for another 20 years!

  2. Other than surgery there are no proven methods to lose loose skin and anyone who tells you otherwise is either ignorant or after your money.

    Surgery wise – I advise my patients to not even think about surgery until after their weight has been stable (plus or minus 5 pounds) for 6 months as far too many people jump the gun on surgery and then promptly gain their weight back.

  3. I’ve realized that. Most of the products that claim to help you lose loose skin seem a lot like the bogus products designed to help you lose weight. They’re marketed the same way, at least.

    I’ve heard similar figures, too — 6 to 12 months.

  4. Loose skin surgery has some SERIOUS risks, I am so glad you have decided against that route. I don’t know if it’s worth it to remove loose skin, but I do know it can be dangerous.

  5. Hey Tyler,

    Glad you’re not looking into surgery. Agreed that it will be important for you to stick with exercise and diet, even after you’ve reached your goals. It takes your skeleton and organs and stuff about 6 months to get ‘used to’ your new weight, so staying strong even after you reach your goals is crucial.

    Your skin will adjust, it just has a hard time playing catch up to all the weight you’ve lost so quickly. Build muscle, give it time, and stick with the safe, healthy plan to skin ‘removal.’

    Keep inspiring.

    -Steve

  6. hey Tyler, I know you are probably drinking a ton of water, which will help the elasticity, I bet you are doing a lot better because you have been exercising. Creams are a scam.

    Good Luck

  7. I find it hard to believe that a skin cream would penetrate deep enough to actually tighten up a significant amount of skin. Save your money.

  8. Well, you’re probably going to have to consider a combination approach. Waiting and muscle building will go hand in hand. It’s going to take time to build muscle, so you’ll be giving your skin wait time at the same time. But you shouldn’t have unrealistic expectations. There’s a very limited amount of muscle you can put on without steroids, and I can’t see you taking steroids–that’s pretty much against every reason you started to lose weight to begin with.

    With that said, after a few years (another year of weight loss, and a year or two of muscle building/waiting) you might want to reconsider the surgery. It looks like I’m the only person that will tell you that, but you’ve worked this hard, so why not? Of course, you should get an honest assessment of the risk. The internet tends to inflate the risk of everything. Talk to a practicing doctor (face to face) which you may have already done.

  9. You’re still young, Tyler. You’ll be surprised at how your body adapts if you opt to build muscle and stay healthy over the next 1-2 years.

    Maybe it’s something you’re already doing, but what about lifting weights? Burning calories and building muscle at the same time sounds like something you’d be interested in.

  10. I must admit, when I read my first entry of yours, loose skin was immediately what came to mind. I think it’s utterly fantastic, what you’ve done, but you completely and utterly eliminated any chance that your skin was going to make the journey with you by the far-too-rapid speed at which you lost the weight. The American Dietary Association, as well as every other weight loss program I’ve ever seen, has always recommended a maximum of three pounds lost per week. This is one of the reasons why.

    There’s several questions on .the Ask Metafilter website which address the question of loose skin, and they’d make relevant reading to your question.

    The operation to remove loose skin can often be covered by health insurance, although it’s not unusual for you to need to push it right up to and through the appeals process. Usually, the possibility of skin infections inside the folds of loose skin is the medical factor that pushes it over the line.

    Evidently the scars are very much not noticeable.

    I don’t think your plan to build the muscle will do the trick. Why? Muscle doesn’t take up as much physical size as fat. So whatever you build will not cover the physical gap left by the deflated fat cells.

    I *think* one of the added benefit of the skin removal is that the process also outright *removes* some of the fat cells. Otherwise, you never really lose fat cells. Weight loss takes the fat from them, but whatever storage units the body manufactured still do stick around, even if empty.

  11. I agree with everyone that is suggesting that you wait to have surgery until you can maintain a consistent weight for awhile, but if the extra skin is bothering you, surgery can be a great option. A lot of naturally thin people do not realize that getting rid of excess skin is not always cosmetic. Folds in the skin can rub and create painful rashes, and collect sweat that makes it even worse. If you run into these problems and work with a doctor to document that the extra skin is causing you health problems, you may be able to get insurance to cover the surgeries you need to deal with the extra skin.

  12. I’m also glad you’ve decided to stay away from the surgery–for now. Who knows what the next couple of years have in store for you, and taking on surgery as soon as you get to your target weight doesn’t make sense to me. But man, how cool is it that you actually have to think of what to do with all the loose skin you’ll have after losing 150 pounds!!

    Great work! You are an inspiration for a lot of us.

  13. Great suggestions here.

    I’m not a fan of surgery either. With Tyler’s age, I suspect he’ll have some success in the skin slowly shrinking. I’ve heard that keeping really well hydrated can help the skin’s elasticity, as well.

    Best of all though – I like the building muscle approach. Awesome idea!

  14. When I lost 110lbs I did ask this question and I was told once I had reached my goal weight to wait at least a year to see how much my skin would retract on it’s own. It all depends on how long you had been overweight and how much elasticity is in your skin. From what I understand surgery is the only real option out there.

    You will eventually have to do something though as you can get infections, sores and such in the loose skin folds.

  15. You have your relative youth on your side. At my age, 40, I had better lose the weight very slowly and build muscle like crazy. I believe what you eat can also make a huge difference.

  16. Loose skin is a big concern for me as I’ve started losing weight as well. Although I haven’t talked much about it, it’s one of the reasons I’ve set my weight loss goals with a cap of about 2 pounds a week. It’s the slow route to be sure, but I figure it’s the best option for my skin to shrink with me.

    Surgery is something that may make sense in the future, but I wouldn’t worry about crossing that bridge till you come to it.

  17. One of the things I’m learning is that pounds come off much quicker than they go on. Granted, my 25 pounds lost are minimal compared to your 100+, but you have obviously grasped what I’m learning as I proceed.

    Americans want quick fixes. That’s what gets us into many of our messes, like being fat. We also like to believe that there is always a medical solution, hence the boom in plastic surgery procedures.

    Surgery might in fact be necessary, but you are obviously looking at all the options, including patience.

    You continue to provide a real model for others by your measured approach to all that you are taking on, weight loss being just one of those areas.

    Keep on keeping on!

  18. I recently saw an interview with a guy who lost a lot of weight and had surgery to remove the excess skin, his scar was all the way across his stomach, it really did not look good. That alone is reason enough to not go the surgery route.

  19. I am also anti-surgery, primarily because it’s a cosmetic thing. I don’t see creams working on someone who’s lost 150 pounds. And in order to have muscle use up the remaining skin, it has to be very bulky muscle, which isn’t really that strong or useful. As a basketball player and outdoors person, you will probably want very strong, toned muscle, which won’t really use up much of that extra skin. Think about it: the extra will mostly be in the belly area, and toned abs do not use up much skin at all.

    I am personally taking the slow weight loss approach. At a pound per week (from 325 to 295 as of yesterday), I am going to bet that the slowness will allow my skin to contract more easily and not hang all over the place when I’m done. I may be wrong here, but while it sucks to have to wait so long to lose the weight, I figure that it took my body 5 years to bulk up like that, so it may take 5 years to get rid of it all, too. Granted, this solution is too late for you, but I’d say give it time. Skin can do a lot, and if it doesn’t go away it will be a visual trophy of your hard work. Don’t give it up for vanity, wear it proud!

  20. Building muscle may work for things like arms, shoulders/back and thighs but the abdomen tends to get smaller as muscle is worked on, not bulkier. Keep in mind, a lot of “cosmetic” procedures can be financed (not just credit card but medical financing) and if the extra skin becomes a hindrance to things like movement you may be able to get some of it removed under insurance by recommendation of a physician.

    Also, why not submit your story to the people who do things like Biggest Loser? Maybe you can capitalize on your experience and get a donation or some sort of compensation for speaking that results in the surgery being paid for.

  21. @David. That truly depends. Stretch marks mean your skin’s elasticity was pretty much destroyed. Usually things marketed to reduce the appearance of stretchmarks mean they will lighten them. There’s loads of products marketed towards pregnant women for this. The longer the skin stayed stretched out, the longer it will take to go back and the more likely it is that it won’t go back.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with having surgery after working so hard. For either you or Tyler.

  22. good hydration and I have also heard skin brushing helps stimulate the skin….I have to read more on it…but it sounds viable and ummm virtually free!!!

  23. I am also on a journey to lose ALOT of weight (168 lbs to be exact) and have to date lost 45 of it. I am trying to lose appx 2lbs per week.. as like David I feel this may prevent some of the loose, hanging skin. However – as a woman..I have also had a C-section as well as a hysterectomy..so I fear that my abdomen is a lost cause for “toning” and regaining any muscle there..and that is also where I have alot of my weight. So I am afraid that I am going to have a problem there. I feel if I lose all that weight and have a bunch of nasty skin hanging..I will probably go the surgery route.. I don’t know..
    Tyler – you are doing awesome and I am so proud of you! You have also been a huge inspiration to me! I started my own blog recently and would love it if you would stop by and say hi sometime! http://www.attitudeoverpounds.blogspot.com Thanks!

  24. I have no direct experience with this because I haven’t yet lost enough wait to worry about it. My mother, however, went from a size 28 to a 6 in about two years and she had to have several surgeries. Because she was so healthy and active after all that weight loss, those surgeries went about 100 times better than the one she had before losing weight – where her lungs collapsed, she almost died and spent months recovering.
    The bottom line is, after a couple of years if you’re still unhappy with the skin on your tummy (how much muscle can your really built in that area vs. the weight you’ve lost there?) you may consider surgery.
    The good news is that you’re so young – your skin is more elastic. Before I looked into creams I would consider skin related vitamin suppliments and good hydration to help the skin bounce back.

  25. Hi Tyler! I am 5’2″ and have lost 175 pounds. I have a great deal of loose skin. It prevents me from wearing many types of swim suits or from feeling comfortable when wearing more revealing clothes. My stomach is by far the worst area. I also have loose skin on my arms, thighs, and rib cage area. It is frustrating to not be able to do much about the excess skin. I am still considering surgery. We have lost similar amounts of weight and are facing the same challenges. I would also like to attempt to build more muscle in hopes of improving my skin. I find that dry brushing helps to make my skin velvety smooth. It has not done much for the excessive skin. I wish you the best of luck.

  26. Hi Tyler,

    Awesome site. I myself lost 115 pounds a couple of years ago and have been able to maintain the weight for the most part; just some added muscle weight. Loose skin is indeed something you have to deal with after a huge lose, but at your age I would stick with exercise and diet since age is one of the prime factors in how your skin will react. Younger you are…better chances that it will eventually go away; but this will take some serious dieting and cardio routine. I am 29 and am sticking with diet and exercise for right now…surgery just sounds too painful and puts your in a un-healthy state for sometime; this is not what we loose weight for. I have got the fingers crossed and hope that D&E will do the trick…good luck to you as well. Keep up the impressive stuff.

  27. Hey man!

    I lost about 150 pounds in 1.5 years from running and a little strength training and it left a LOT of extra skin on my body.

    On the bright side though, I can safely say it does get a it better in the end. I’m still not there 100% but getting there fast. The trick is muscle/fat ratio. Get a half decent body fat measurement system ( I would not use body fat calipers) and aim to get around 10% body fat through diet and strength training.

    Like you said, LEAN muscle is the key and not many know that. I started at 310 LBS (68% body fat) and when down to 160 (30% fat) which was very high even at my low weight. After a few years of strength training, im now at 210 LBS (14% fat) and my skin is almost all but gone. It’s not perfect, but none the less I’m in better shape than 95% of people in the USA and I would not trade that for anything.

    It’s a lifestyle change you need to make, and when its all said in done, you will be glad you went through it all. it makes you a stronger person and proud of your body you EARNED.

    And as in inspiring note, if you want to look good just for woman and such, you will find that many/most people dont really care that much about a little extra weight. It’s about confidence, mentality, tenacity and dedication.

    Hope this helps you out!

    -Patrick
    23 years old
    6’2 – large frame

  28. Try SPANX! (Macy’s) or ASSETS (Target.) They hold in the loose skin and smooth out imperfections. They make them for women but men can get an XL tank top style and you’ll be hooked – no joke!

  29. I was also concerned about the lose skin issue, because I am attempting to lose 150lbs in 365 days. So far in three weeks I have lost 14lbs…so I am doing it kinda fast (not attempting to lose this much this quick…but my body just wants it off!)
    I have done some research and found an interesting way to possibly see some firming effects in the skin. It is called body brushing, you can look it up online…but basically, you brush your skin with a dry brush (like a bath brush with a handle, but dry) and if you brush it in a certain pattern in a certain direction before your daily shower, it will be very beneficial to your skin. Not only does it help firm loose skin (because the motion breaks up fat cells under the skin and stimulates growth of new cells which are more likely to be a little bit closer to “fitting” you.) but it also improves circulation, removes toxins from the body, helps get excess lymph out of the limbs and back towards the heart to be processed back into the body, and it removes old, dead skin cells so that your skin looks softer, newer, and more toned. If you do it correctly it can be very beneficial. I have bought my brush but I have not started to body brush yet. I may start this week, since I am close to having lost 15lbs…I don’t want to wait until I am done…I want to stat shrinking my skin as I shrink too!

  30. Hi Tyler. Just ran into your site…wanted to tell you what a friend of mine did when he lost a couple hundred pounds. He donated his skin to a special burn hospital. He didn’t have to pay a cent for the surgery. Just a thought.

  31. i have dropped about 110 pounds so far in the past year and i pl;an to drop another 100 pounds and i have been using aoquili soap!its a defat soap and it helps remove stretch marks and tightens the skin!it has been working for me!its not a cure all but it definately helps out!just google it!

  32. It is my understanding that MSM helps encourage skin elasticity and shrinking. Although it is recommended for use during the whole weight loss time period, it may still help if you start when the weight loss goal is nearly met. It is natural, can be found in supplements, creams, and soaps. I figure, if it doesn’t help at least it won’t hurt.

  33. How’s the skin situation at this point? You must be pretty close to your end goal. Tightening up yet? My weight is all in the gut with a little on the rear. My limbs always looked fairly normal. I’m really concerned about how the belly will end up looking. Down 43, maybe another 60 to 70 to go. If I just have to look good with my shirt on, so be it; I’d find that preferable to surgery. :(

  34. The idea of building muscle is a great one but, in truth, it requires waiting as well. It isn’t reasonable to expect muscle gains of 20 lbs in 1 year. Muscle builds , given a good weight lifting plan, at a rate of 5-10 lbs per year. Eat lean protein and keep working at it, your goal will be achieved over time.

  35. I want to have a tummy/torso tuck done and I want it soon. I have an brest reduction done and it was great. I have no pain at all . I had some itchng after and when the healing began. This Dr. Wassermann did mine he is great. He is on the corner of Blanidng St and Sumter St in Columbia try him out….

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