Sometimes it seems like you can’t lose the weight soon enough, but accomplishing this task can leave behind loose skin. Loose skin can appear on the neck, arms or hanging down your stomach, which can cause embarrassment and distress. Procedures like a bypass surgery allow people to lose a large amount of weight very quickly, which reduces the chances of the skin naturally returning to its former shape quickly, as fat cells shrink.
Aim to drink nine to 13 cups of water daily. Water helps keep your skin hydrated, thus preventing skin dryness. If the outer layer of your skin is dry, it may lose elasticity and sag, according to Medline Plus. Drink about two liters of water daily, and moisturize your skin to protect it from water loss.
Eat foods that promote collagen and elastin production in the skin. Collagen and elastin are structured proteins that help build and support skin elasticity, states Cleveland Clinic. Boost collagen production by consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables. Lean sources of protein such as cottage cheese, lean meats, legumes, seafood and tofu contain elastin, which helps increase the chances of skin returning to normal.
Protect your skin from sun damage. Prolonged sun exposure reduces moisture, which can loosen the skin. Apply sunscreen of at least SPF 15 to protect your skin from UV damage. Avoid tanning beds and sun exposure in the early or midafternoon by staying indoors.
Increase your lean muscle mass by performing resistance exercise. You can improve the appearance of loose skin by “filling out” with muscle mass. When you lose weight rapidly, you also lose muscle mass, which you can rebuild. Promote muscle hypertrophy by performing strength-training exercises two to three times a week. Perform exercises such as the bench press, pullups, crunches and squats.
Experts suggest you wait two years before considering plastic surgery for loose skin, according to Columbia Health.
Skin loses elasticity with age. Therefore, the older you are when you lose weight, the less likely it is that your skin will tighten as much it was before. When you lose 50 to 100 pounds very quickly, your skin have a smaller chance of adjusting than when you lose 50 pounds or less over several months.