I wanted to talk a bit about loose skin after weight loss. While I have been happy to have lost almost 65 pounds, I have found that I have a lot of loose skin. And, excess weight takes it toll in other ways as well. It is easy while losing weight to imagine being thin and your body looking great. And, it does work out that way for some people. My husband lost over 80 pounds (probably over 90 pounds actually). He has very little loose skin and doesn’t look like he was ever really overweight.
It is my understanding that there is some individual variation in skin elasticity. In general, the more you lose and the older you are the more likely it is that you will have less elasticity and may end up with loose skin. But, my husband is older than I am and lost more weight, but he looks fine. Me? Not so much.
The areas were I see problems are: Abdomen, breasts, arms, thighs and face. The absolute worst area is my abdomen. Even though I weighed in at 142.8 pounds last Saturday, I find size 10 pants to be tight. I can get them on only if I want to have a huge muffin top. I have lots of extra skin in that area. And, there is some fat as well. My entire life I have always carried extra fat in that area. When I weighed under 120 pounds I still had extra fat in that area.
The other factor is that I likely have some muscle separation, what is referred to as diastasis recti. Basically, the space between the rectus abdominis muscles has widened. This commonly happens during pregnancy and can also happen with a lot of extra weight. Because of the connection with pregnancy, diastasis recti is far more common with women than men. My understanding that there are some women who may find that this gets better after giving birth. But, in many instances nothing will bring those muscles back together other than muscle repair during an abdominoplasty, also known as a tummy tuck.
In my case, I have the loose skin that just got worse and worse as I lost more weight and I have a pooch that goes the length of my abdomen which results from the laxity of my abdominal muscles. And, no amount of exercise or dieting is going those problems for me. I am not sorry I lost the weight. I certainly look better and am in better health as a result of the weight loss. But, I hate to look at my abdomen in the mirror. And, clothes never fit right since I have to try to adjust things for the hanging skin. I will eventually post some pictures, but not yet.
Then there are the breasts. I will be a bit discreet here and simply say that they remind me of deflated tube socks. (No, you get no pictures!) I also have some loose skin on my inner thighs and my arms are bat wings. The thighs and the arms, though, are minor compared to the other areas.
And, then there is my face. I can honestly say that my face looks worse now than it looked when I weighed 25 pounds more than I weigh now. Of course, not everything about my face that I don’t like is because of weight loss. As we age, our faces sort of descend as gravity has its way with us. But, another part of aging is that we lose volume in the face. To be blunt, we lose fat. And, the loss of that fat can make us look older and more skeletal. This is why some people feel that they look better in the face with a little more weight. That gives them extra volume in the face. When I lost weight, I lost some of that extra fat in my face. And, I also ended up with some loose skin that didn’t spring back in place either. The result is that I often feel like my face looks like it is melting. Under my chin, I feel like I look like I have a lot of fat with a turkey neck, but that is really mostly skin that is just hanging there.
So, what to do? I could just do nothing. Nobody but my husband and me see most of the areas, other than my face, that bother me. I only wear tops that have long enough sleeves to hide the bat wings. I don’t wear shorts that would expose my inner thighs where I have loose skin (at the top of my thighs). I don’t wear two piece swimsuits. And, plenty of women who haven’t lost a lot of weight have faces that have fallen and they accept that as simply part of getting older.
But, for me, I recognized that I wasn’t content to live with most of this. While I don’t usually wear a two piece swimsuit that is mostly because of the loose skin. I would be happy to wear one if I could do so and look good. And, I would like to have clothes that fit me well and I wish I didn’t have to deal with trying to find something that looks good with the loose skin. And, I don’t like knowing that I look like I have a lot of fat in my waist when so much of the problem is extra skin.
I actually started thinking about having a tummy tuck a couple of years ago. By then, even though I was still overweight, I could see that losing weight was not going to result in a flat stomach for me. I started researching stuff and found out about diastasis recti and about loose skin after weight loss. I realized that those things weren’t going to go away for me other than by surgery. And, I felt OK with that.
At that time, I really didn’t think about the breast thing. I didn’t like how things looked, but with a good bra I could sort of pretend things were OK. But, recently, I realized that I wouldn’t really be happy if I got a tummy tuck and still had two tube socks on my chest. So, I decided that if I got a tummy tuck I would also get a breast lift. When the two are put together it is often called a Mommy Makeover.
And, then there was my face. I have had drooping eyelids for years. In fact, I had them when I was in my 30s. I didn’t like them, but didn’t really think about doing anything about them. But, the last couple of years they have really gotten to be bad. One reason you don’t see many pictures of me here is that I hate, hate, hate how my eyelids look. And, losing weight has just made it worse. And, I have this awful turkey neck. Losing weight didn’t help it either. In fact, it made it worse. There is less fat under my chin, but I still just as much skin there as I had when I weighed a lot more.
Deciding to do facial surgery was difficult. I had less difficulty with the body surgery. I was doing that because of losing weight and having a lot of loose skin. I would have done it if I had been 35 years old. That is, that surgery has nothing to do with wanting to look younger.
The issue with facial surgery is different. I think that there is more stigma to facial plastic surgery. Does having a necklift, for example, mean that I don’t accept my age? The answer is no. I don’t mind my age. But, I don’t like drooping eyelids or my turkey neck. Part of that drooping is because of loose skin and loss of fat from losing weight. Part of it is because of the changes that come with getting older. I accept my age, but I also want to look my best. I wear makeup to look better. I color my hair because I like how I look with my hair colored the way it is (I color my hair red, although I originally had very dark brown hair which is now largely gray if not colored). I wear nice clothes so that I look better. The reality is that I don’t like looking at my eyelids or my neck and I can improve how they look with surgery.
So…this week I went to a couple of plastic surgeons to see what my options are. My next post will be on my consultations and what decision I have made as a result.