Excess Body Fat or Excess Skin? – Weight Loss Analysis

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As it appeared for the website www.olderiswiser.com

So you finally stopped the excuses.  You hit the gym hard and you found the perfect diet to help you lose the weight.  The scale tells you that you are no longer in the category of obese.   In fact you managed to lower your BMI to well under 30. Body Mass Index (BMI) is a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters.  You should feel great but when you look in the mirror at the hanging excess skin, it makes you want cover up your results. Is the excess skin really excess body fat?

Excess skin or excess body fat

What Causes Saggy Skin?

Generally our skin is quite elastic and bounces back easily when our body gains and loses a few pounds. But this elasticity diminishes, as we get older.  The elasticity of your skin also depends on how long you were obese and quite frankly some of it is genetic.  It doesn’t matter if you dropped pounds suddenly or slowly. The longer it was stretched out, the more likely it is to not to bounce back.

But there are other factors that factor into loose skin gets after losing weight:

  • How much weight you have lost;
  • How old you were when you lost the weight;
  • How many times you’ve lost and gained the weight back (yo-yo dieting) and;
  • How quickly you lost it (the quicker you lose it, the less time your skin has to tighten naturally).

Saggy skin cannot only be an embarrassment; it can lead to rashes and yeast infections in the folds. Perspiration can get trapped and result in a rash.  Many people with excess skin have said they felt like fat people trapped in a skinny person’s body. According to Lindsay Bennett’s article “Getting Rid of Excess Skin after Major Weight Loss,” others have complained about loose skin around the neck and sagging skin around the upper arms after rapid weight loss.

Building Lean Muscle Reduces Body Fat

Many people mistakenly think they have loose or excess skin when they actually just have excess body fat.  This excess body fat, which is soft and jiggly, can easily be mistaken as skin.  Until you lose the fat, the skin has no reason to return to its original state.  As long as the fat the skin is attached to remains, so will the saggy skin.  In situations of excess body fat, all you may need to do is build lean muscle.

Lifting weights as part of a regular regime can build lean muscle leaving little room fat. The goal should always be to lose fat and not muscle. However, a low BMI along with crinkly paper-thin skin would suggest you do have excess skin. If that is the case, excess skin requires different treatment.

Body fat elimination by weight training
By Collections École Polytechnique / Jérémy Barande, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Dealing with Excess Skin

Surgical techniques for excess skin removal began in Brazil and France more than 40 years ago but often resulted in severe scarring, long recovery periods and other complications. However, in the last 15 years, skin removal surgery has undergone several major improvements. More people have turned to body contouring as a way of fighting excess skin.

Surgical body contouring following major weight loss removes excess sagging fat and skin which results in improved the body shape while improving the shape of the underlying support tissue. However liposuction costs for body contouring does not come cheap. Costs can range from $8,000 for arm surgeries to as much as $30,000 for more complicated surgeries.


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