If you are planning to lose weight, you should know that how you go about it can have consequences on the health and appearance of your skin. How so? Most of us have heard skin referred to as the body's largest organ, and it really is, plus it is a rather complex one.
Skin is affected to some degree by most everything that goes on in the body, including changes in weight and diet. Taking that into account as you work to lose weight can help avoid troublesome skin issues that many people face after weight loss – loose, hanging skin.
Weight Loss And Skin
Changing your weight changes your skin. When you put on extra pounds, your skin expands to accommodate your larger body size. This ability to expand is called elasticity, and is provided by collagen and elastin fibers in the dermis, the deep skin layer that provides the skin with its structure and shape. Ideally, when you lose the weight, that elasticity will help the skin adjust again, allowing it to shrink as that excess body fat melts away.
However, that process doesn't always happen as smoothly as we would like. In some cases, the skin can have a hard time recovering from the stretching that occurs with weight gain, resulting in areas of loose, hanging skin. Factors that can affect the skin's ability to snap back to size after weight loss include age -- skin elasticity diminishes over time; how long the extra weight has been an issue -- prolonged stretching can affect elasticity; and the rate of weight loss -- rapid weight changes are harder on the skin than slow, steady ones. Nutrition is also a factor in how well your skin recovers and repairs itself, as is the overall health and condition of the skin during weight loss.
Healthy Weight Loss Is The Key To Healthy Skin
Crash diets and rapid weight loss can greatly increase your chances of ending up with loose skin once you have reached your weight loss goals. First, rapid weight loss allows your skin little time to heal and adjust to your new, smaller body size. Second, the sudden and extreme calorie restriction that rapid weight loss requires is traumatic for the body – including the skin – and it very often results in significant nutritional deficits, leaving the skin lacking in vital nutrients it needs to maintain its strength and elasticity. Lastly, extreme dieting or diets which are not high in protein often causes significant loss of lean body mass and poor skin quality, tone and elasticity.
For both skin heath and your general health, gradual weight loss– 1 to 3 pounds weekly – is a much better plan unless you have a large amount of weight to lose. Healthy weight is about balance, cutting calories without sacrificing good nutrition. This ensures that your skin will have the vital nutrients it needs to maintain its strength and elasticity, and losing weight slowly makes it easier for your skin to keep up, allowing it to adjust at a natural, gradual pace. Additionally, slow, steady weight loss while you develop new, healthy eating habits has been shown to be much more sustainable than rapid weight loss with unhealthy diets. This approach will increase your chances of keeping the weight off over the long run – avoiding another round of skin stretching and the resulting worries about weight loss and skin.
So the bottom line is that when it comes to weight loss and skin, patience pays off. Slow, steady weight loss, good nutrition and a little TLC for your skin, such as nourishing creams and minimal sun exposure, can maximize skin health during weight loss and minimize your chances of loose skin once you've met your weight loss goals.