Metabolic and bariatric surgeries (MBS), including gastric bypass surgery, support weight loss in a short period of time.
The skin stretches to accommodate body mass. The skin lacks elasticity when rapidly losing weight resulting in loose, sagging skin after MBS. The amount of excess skin will depend on several factors, many of which are out of your control.
Most people are concerned about their excess skin because of cosmetic reasons. Luckily, there are many ways to help tighten loose skin after gastric bypass, without resorting to surgery.
This article will offer methods that will support the tightening of excess skin and allow you to feel more positive about your body image after weight loss surgery. The surgical vs non-surgical routes will be compared against one another and some helpful advice and tips will be provided below.
What This Article Covers:
- How Do You Manage Loose Skin After Gastric Bypass Surgery?
- What is The Difference Between Surgical and Non-Surgical Skin Tightening?
- How Could Loose Skin Affect You?
How Do You Manage Loose Skin After Gastric Bypass Surgery?
There are many non-surgical ways to manage excess skin after metabolic and bariatric surgery. The main methods are healthy eating and balanced diet, regular exercise, and a good skincare routine.
A Healthy Diet
A healthy and balanced diet, including lots of protein and a variety of vitamins and minerals, can help to manage the amount of excess skin. Protein can support maintaining and building lean muscle during the rapid weight loss phase. It can also help with the all-around recovery after gastric bypass surgery.*
Unfortunately, rapid weight loss after metabolic and bariatric surgery is not just fat loss. The body is also cutting water and muscle. A high-protein diet will support retention and muscle building in order to fill out the skin and help saggy, loose skin.
Eating enough protein will support the elasticity of your skin and allow it to take the shape of your new body structure. Select amino acids that make up protein can aid in natural collagen formation that can directly affect skin elasticity. If you are unable to consume or unsure what foods to eat in order to promote natural collagen formation, there are collagen supplements available to support this process. Collagen after metabolic and bariatric surgery may provide benefits for more than just skin elasticity.*
You can use bariatric whey protein as a healthy source of protein in your new diet. Metabolic and bariatric surgery vitamins are also really important in supporting overall health after surgery, but also play a role in skin elasticity. The bariatric vitamins that you should be taking daily after surgery will include vitamins C, A, E, and B-complex that play a direct role in skin health.*
There are other bariatric supplements available like hair, skin and nails vitamins and collagen powders. Before purchasing additional supplements, consult with your healthcare provider to ensure they are suitable for your individual needs.*
Try to drink a minimum of 64 ounces of water daily. This consumption can be increased to a maximum of 100 ounces per day. Water supports hydration, skin health and elasticity.
Eating a healthy diet will allow you to look and feel better after surgery. Your medical team will help you to create a healthy, balanced, and sustainable diet that suits your lifestyle.
Strength training exercises can help with the appearance of your skin, but it does not directly affect skin elasticity. Exercise helps for some of the same reasons protein consumption does. Exercise can build lean muscle below the skin and allow for toned and tighter skin. Lean muscle fills out your figure so that it appears as if you have less excess skin. Exercise also manages muscle loss, which causes the skin to sag even more.
Your exercise routine should target the arms, stomach, and upper thighs. These are the typical areas of concern, as they usually have the most excess skin.
Consult with your bariatric team about an exercise routine that would be safe and suitable for your lifestyle.
Skin Care Routine
You need to take care of your skin like you take care of your other organs. Your skincare routine should include ingredients that support natural collagen formation.
Collagen is a protein found throughout the body as a component of bones, tendons, skin, muscles, and cartilage. There is research regarding the benefits of collagen supplements in playing a role in skin conditions as well.(1,2)*
After surgery, it may be recommended to brush the skin with a soft bristle brush. This can increase circulation in the skin and further support collagen and elastin formation. The best skincare products to use must include a moisturizer and provide sun protection. Skin creams can affect the tightness of skin and support hydration.
Other Lifestyle Tips
- Remain patient
Allow sufficient time for your body to recover. Loose skin is a sign that you are losing weight in all the right places. Wait until about one year after surgery to make any dramatic change to the cosmetic appearance of the body. Your skin may tighten up on its own, without any need for plastic surgery.
- Use salt scrubs
The use of salt scrubs and soft bristle brushes may support skin elasticity. This will positively affect blood flow to your skin. The blood flow transports collagen and elastin in order to tighten the skin.
- Practice yoga
Yoga strengthens your core and increases your flexibility, which can support the appearance of your skin. Yoga can also aid in a healthy stress response and allow mindfulness to support self love and confidence.
What is The Difference Between Surgical and Non-Surgical Skin Tightening?
Non-surgical skin tightening involves methods that support skin firmness. Some of the main non-surgical skin tightening methods have been described above.
These methods aim to aid in collagen and elastin formation. Collagen manages the firmness of the skin and elastin tightens the skin.
Surgical skin tightening involves removing excess skin by cutting it away. This is done by a plastic surgeon specialist for individuals who are not satisfied with their body appearance after weight loss surgery.
The table below summarizes the main differences between surgical and non-surgical skin tightening:
Recovery time is a few weeks
Little to no recovery time
Visible scarring may be present after surgery
No scars or permanent marks
Not everyone is fit for surgery
No surgical risks involved
Weight must be stable for at least six months before surgery
No weight maintenance requirements
Discuss these options with your healthcare provider. He/she will assist you in deciding which option is best for you, taking into account your current health and physical condition.
Timing of plastic surgery after a metabolic and bariatric procedure will depend on complications such as gastric bypass and anemia, gastric bypass and kidney stones or gallbladder problems after gastric bypass.
You can also receive guidance on a gastric bypass forum regarding additional tips and advice from individuals who may have had experience with this.
Approximately two-thirds of patients that go for plastic surgery to remove their excess skin are satisfied with the cosmetic results. Tummy tucks after gastric bypass are one of the most common procedures performed.
One of the major concerns are surgical scars, but skilled surgeons can conceal these scars within your skin folds for better aesthetic results. Make sure that you research surgeon reviews and experience.
Check with your medical insurance to decipher which methods of surgery may be covered in your bariatric financing plan. You may need to finance this surgery yourself if medical insurance will not cover it.
How Could Loose Skin Affect You?
Most patients lose a lot of weight after metabolic and bariatric surgery and end up with loose and saggy skin.
Your skin expands in order to accommodate for the increased body weight. When you lose weight quickly, skin elasticity is not supported enough to tighten around your new body mass.
The amount of excess skin you have after surgery depends on how much weight you lose, age, smoking history, and genetics. Most people are bothered by the excessive, loose, sagging skin and want it minimized or removed.
Excess skin can cause chafing and rashes, mostly in the skin fold regions where there is increased moisture. These areas include the armpits, the pannus (skin apron in front of the stomach), and the groin area.
The chafing can cause the top layer of your skin to tear, leading to more irritation. These skin fold regions can be difficult to clean and can lead to infection. If plastic surgery is required for medical reasoning, insurance will likely cover the procedure.
Other than these mechanical issues with excess skin, it is also a cosmetic concern for most people.
Excessive skin is seen as undesirable and psychologically affects people who suffer from it. It can affect self-image and self-esteem. However, there are many actions available without surgical consultation.
Do the research and consult with your healthcare team for the best guidance on post metabolic and bariatric surgery concerns.
Did you find our blog helpful? Then consider checking:
- Bariatric Surgery Options
- Mini Gastric Bypass
- Where Can I Get Bariatric Surgery
- How Much Weight Loss To Expect With A Gastric Bypass
- Bariatric Surgery Explained
- Bariatric Surgery Benefits
- Vitamin A Deficiency After Bariatric Surgery
- What Pain Medication Can You Take After Gastric Bypass
- Gastric Bypass Revision
- How Long Is Gastric Bypass Surgery Procedure
- Bariatric Surgery And Diabetes
- Vitamin B12 After Gastric Bypass
- Chewable Vitamins For Bariatric Patients
- Collagen After Bariatric Surgery
- Post-Bariatric Plastic Surgery
1. J Med Food. 2015; 18(12):1340-1348 [PMID: 26561784]
2. Nutrients. 2019; 11(10):2494 [PMID: 31627309]
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
This blog is for information and education purposes only. This information is not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult with your bariatric surgeon or another qualified healthcare provider with any questions in regards to a medical condition. A qualified healthcare professional can best assist you in deciding whether a dietary supplement is suitable based on your individual needs.