How to Tighten Loose Skin After Losing Weight

Consume Certain Nutrients and Stay Hydrated
Certain nutrients are important for the production of collagen and other components of healthy skin:

  • Protein: Adequate protein is vital for healthy skin, and the amino acids lysine and proline play a direct role in collagen production.
  • Vitamin C: Vitamin C is needed for collagen synthesis and also helps protect skin from sun damage.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: A small study found that the omega-3 fatty acids in fatty fish may help increase skin elasticity .
  • Water: Staying well hydrated may improve your skin’s appearance. One study found that women who increased their daily water intake had significant improvements in skin hydration and function.

Use Firming Creams
Many “firming” creams contain collagen and elastin.

Although these creams may temporarily give a slight boost to skin tightness, collagen and elastin molecules are too large to be absorbed through your skin. In general, collagen must be created from the inside out.

Medical Treatments to Tighten Loose Skin
Medical or surgical treatments are usually necessary to tighten loose skin after major weight loss.

Body-Contouring Surgery
Those who have lost a significant amount of weight via bariatric surgery or other weight loss methods often request surgery to remove excess skin.

Medical or surgical treatments are usually necessary to tighten loose skin after major weight loss.

Body-Contouring Surgery
Those who have lost a significant amount of weight via bariatric surgery or other weight loss methods often request surgery to remove excess skin.

In body-contouring surgery, a large incision is made, and excess skin and fat are removed. The incision is sutured with fine stitches in order to minimize scarring.

Specific body-contouring surgeries include:

  • Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck): Removal of skin from the abdomen.
  • Lower-body lift: Removal of skin from the belly, buttocks, hips and thighs.
  • Upper-body lift: Removal of skin from the breasts and back.
  • Medial thigh lift: Removal of skin from the inner and outer thighs.
  • Brachioplasty (arm lift): Removal of skin from the upper arms.

Multiple surgeries are usually performed on different body parts over the span of one to two years after major weight loss.

Body-contouring surgeries usually require a hospital stay of one to four days. Recovery time at home is typically two to four weeks. There may be also some complications from the surgery, such as bleeding and infections.

That being said, most studies have found that body-contouring surgery improves quality of life in formerly obese people. However, one study reported that some quality of life scores decreased in those who had the procedure .

Alternative Medical Procedures
Although body-contouring surgery is by far the most common procedure to remove loose skin, there are also less invasive options with a lower risk of complications:

  • VelaShape: This system uses a combination of infrared light, radiofrequency and massage to reduce loose skin. In one study, it led to significant loss of belly and arm skin in overweight adults (27, 28).
  • Ultrasound: A controlled study of ultrasound treatment in people who had bariatric surgery found no objective improvement in loose skin. However, people did report relief of pain and other symptoms following treatment (29).

It appears that although there are fewer risks with these alternative procedures, the results may not be as dramatic as with body-contouring surgery.