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Gastric Bypass Surgery and Excess Skin

Gastric Bypass Surgery and Excess Skin

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      After significant weight loss from gastric bypass surgery, excess skin sometimes presents a new challenge for patients. Excess, loose skin is common after a considerable amount of weight loss. The skin is often stretched by excess weight, and when that weight is lost, the result is loose skin. The more weight that is lost, there is more likely a chance for excess skin.

      Also, the natural progression of aging plays a role in the skin’s elasticity. With age, skin becomes thinner, creating the appearance that it is less taught and more wrinkled. Aging also causes a decreased ability for the skin to bounce back after substantial weight loss.

      The amount of loose skin that remains after weight loss varies by individual, and not everyone’s skin will sag. Various factors such as age, total weight loss, muscle mass, and genetics play a role in the amount of loose skin after gastric bypass. Many gastric bypass patients will turn to skin removal surgery. There are, however, numerous ways on how to tighten loose skin after gastric bypass without surgery.

      Side view of a woman's body while sitting down.
      Loose skin often keeps patients from fully enjoying the benefits of significant weight loss.

      Problems with Loose Skin

      In addition to cosmetic issues that many patients face after significant weight loss, there are some unpleasant medical side effects associated with excess skin. Excess skin may cause chafing or rashes, especially when the skin is rubbing together and is moist. Over time, the top layer of skin can tear, leading to additional irritation or providing an environment prone to infection.

      These complications may lead to damage to deeper layers of skin. Infection may also occur when proper hygiene is an issue, as excess skin is often more challenging to clean properly. It is because of these reasons gastric bypass patients must learn how to tighten loose skin after gastric bypass without surgery.

      Reducing the Likelihood of Excess Skin

      In some cases, it is possible to prevent or minimize the risk of excess skin. Although there is no magic pill, potion, or lotion that reliably prevents excess skin, there are a few things patients can do to minimize the likelihood of extra skin. Here are a few ways on how to tighten loose skin after gastric bypass without surgery.

      Exercise

      Physical activity is thought to be a key player in combating extra, loose skin. Although skin’s elasticity is not impacted by exercise, strength training can help with the appearance of loose skin. Exercise works by helping to tighten, tone, and build the muscle beneath the skin, leading to a more toned look overall. Strength training can also prevent muscle loss that often accompanies dramatic weight loss.

      Some of the most common areas of concern for excess skin include the upper arms, thighs, and stomach.

      Hand weights and other gym accessories.
      Regular physical activity should include cardiovascular and strength-building exercises.

      Nutrition

      An overall healthy diet is critical for optimal health, but we know that certain nutrients are essential in the production of healthy skin.

      Adequate nutrition to promote healthy skin includes a diet rich in a variety of protein, vitamins, and minerals. Sufficient intake of dietary protein is particularly vital for rebuilding the skin’s barrier and elasticity. Adequate fluid intake keeps skin supple and hydrated to minimize the appearance of sagging. Your nutrition plays a key role in how to tighten loose skin after gastric bypass without surgery.

      Numerous vitamins laying on a table.
      A daily multivitamin is generally recommended after bariatric surgery to ensure adequate nutrient intake.

      Compression Clothing

      Some patients also choose to wear compression garments while exercising or in daily life. These particular clothes can help patients look and feel more comfortable. Compression garments can help reduce skin-to-skin friction caused by loose skin. The garments are designed to hold the skin in place. Wearing compression apparel as a base layer can also help clothes fit better. Unfortunately, there are no special “wraps” that will tighten excess skin.

      Skincare

      A skincare regimen that includes components with collagen-promoting ingredients may help improve skin’s appearance. Many products promise skin firming and tightening, but despite claims, the results are usually subtle at best. Products that offer the best results are those that contain an excellent moisturizer and provide sun protection. It’s important to note that over-the-counter topical “skin firming” creams aren’t as effective as in-office procedures, and many creams may not be effective at all. Good skincare can learn to an excellent way on how to tighten loose skin after gastric bypass without surgery.

      Rubbing cream on a hand.
      Skin’s elasticity is impacted by age, genetics, nutrition, and the environment.

      Skin Removal Surgery

      Removal of excess skin after bariatric surgery is an option for some patients. Skin removal surgery, also called body contouring surgery, is the only known solution to remove excess skin permanently. Surgery is usually recommended for those who are experiencing adverse side effects related to extra skin, in addition to cosmetic problems. Skin removal surgery is a specialized procedure that is usually done by a cosmetic surgeon who is specially trained.

      Before evaluating patients for skin removal surgery, physicians recommend waiting at least one year after their initial bariatric procedure. Assessing patients for skin removal surgery before that time is not recommended, due to the changes that the body is going through. Gastric bypass patients may be tempted to turn to skin removal surgery for their excess skin, however, they don't have to. There are plenty of effective ways on how to tighten loose skin after gastric bypass without surgery.

      Doctor standing with his arms crossed holding a stethoscope.
      A plastic surgeon can help determine if body contouring surgery is the best option for you.

      1. https://baribuilder.com/blog/gastric-bypass-and-diabetes/
      2. https://www.advancedsurgicalnj.com/bariatric-surgery/after-bariatric-surgery/extra-skin.php
      3. https://bariatricsurgeryco.org/getting-started/post-bariatric-surgery/excess-skin-after-weight-loss-surgery/
      4. https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/lifestyle/blog/896/after-gastric-bypass-surgery-are-there-specific-exercise-precautions-i-should-take
      5. https://www.livestrong.com/article/116397-prevent-sagging-skin-during-weight/
      6. https://www.pennmedicine.org/updates/blogs/metabolic-and-bariatric-surgery-blog/2016/december/how-to-tighten-loose-skin
      7. https://www.aad.org/cosmetic/younger-looking/firm-sagging-skin
      8. https://www.verywellfit.com/how-to-fix-loose-skin-after-weight-loss-3496411
      9. https://www.americanboardcosmeticsurgery.org/procedure-learning-center/body-procedures/skin-removal-after-weight-loss/

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        Morgyn Clair, MS, RDN

        Author

        Morgyn is an RD specializing in weight management and surgical weight loss. She has a master's in clinical nutrition and dietetics, and currently works as a clinical dietitian in a physician’s office.

        Gintas Antanavicius, MD, FACS, FASMBS

        Medical Reviewer

        Dr. G is a co-founder of BariBuilder. A US-based expert surgeon with over 10 years of bariatric experience, he regularly publishes research in medical journals like SOARD, Obesity Surgery, etc.