Most patients lose a large amount of weight (up to 50-60 kg at times) after bariatric surgery and end up with loose or sagging skin. Deposition of excess fat around the body can lead to stretching of the skin. As one loses weight, the skin doesn’t have enough elasticity to shrink back. This coupled with usual laxity of the underlying muscles in obese patients leads to the appearance of loose skin. The amount of loose skin that one will have after surgery depends on the muscle tone, age, history of smoking, genetics etc.
But the real question is, how can you prevent skin from sagging post-bariatric surgery? The following steps need to be followed to prevent sagging of the skin.
1. Keep Yourself Hydrated
Hydration is very important and often underestimated way to maintain healthy skin. Drinking an adequate quantity of water keeps the collagen in the skin hydrated and reduces sagging.
2. Exercise To Keep The Skin Tight
Adding weights to your workout three to four times a week leads to toned, lean muscle under the skin, which makes the skin look tighter. However, post-bariatric surgery patients must avoid weightlifting for a period of three months’ right after the surgery to prevent complication with the incision site.
Exercises that will make the skin look tighter are:
Bicep Curls: These target the nasty underarm hang, that is the grouse of most people undergoing the surgery.
Planks: These work on the stomach flab by toning the abdominal wall muscles. The longer you hold your stance, the better is the result. The recommended time is 30-60 seconds.
Crunches: Crunches and planks complement each other well when it comes to tightening the loose skin over the belly. Although it can be uncomfortable, it is very effective.
Squats: These provide the perfect workout for the gluteus muscles and the thighs.
Lunges: These tone the muscles of the upper thighs, glutes and hamstrings. This will pull the skin tighter to the thigh and create a more attractive thigh area.
3. Use Collagen Creams
Another way to tighten skin after weight loss is to keep it nourished with a collagen cream. This can replenish the lost collagen in the skin and prevent it from sagging.
4. Use Supplements
The use of supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E oils for local application and ingestion of lean proteins, prevent sagging of the skin.
The amount of loose skin and degrees of annoyance owing to the loose skin varies from person to person. 80 per cent of patients do not need any additional treatment other than exercises, hydration and supplementation. However, the remaining 20 per cent do need plastic surgery procedures, such as tummy tucks, lower body lift, thigh lift, arm left etc, owing to excessive sagging or unhappiness with the appearance of the skin post-bariatric surgery.
Bariatric surgical procedures aren’t usually cosmetic procedures. Rather, they are performed for patients suffering from metabolic syndrome (which is a constellation of diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol levels, heart disease etc.). The primary aim of the surgery is to allow remission of metabolic syndrome. Most patients with BMI’s less than 50 do not face problems with loose skin. However, it’s only the super obese patients (>50 BMI) who present with loose skin, several months post-bariatric surgery.