Weight Loss & Loose Skin

I was reading that when people lose a lot of weight, they sometimes end up getting loose skin.

My question is this: Generally speaking, does the skin get looser and looser throughout the course of the weight loss? Or does the loosening occur mainly at the end or beginning?


The weight loss does not occur in a gradual process throughout the body at the same rate. Rather, it happens a bit here, and then a bit there, and then somewhere else. Therefore the loose skin will also happen at irregular intervals. For example, the face, arms, and legs will lose weight at different times, so the loose skin will also appear at different times.

Also, all this is complicated by the fact that even when the skin actually becomes looser, it may not be noticed until a certain point is reached. Therefore, even if the weight loss technically is smooth and gradual, it may not appear that way.

The problem seems to be that the skin doesn’t shrink when the body gets smaller. I’ve lost quite a bit of weight, and as Keeve says, it happens a bit here, a bit there, and the skin loosens where I’ve lost the weight. I didn’t notice loose skin until I’d lost maybe 20 pounds or so, though.

Thanks for the responses. The concern is this – a friend of mine lost about 50 or 60 pounds through careful diet and exercise.

At this point, she has lost pretty much all that she really needs for health purposes but she would like to lose another 10 or 15 pounds for the sake of vanity, i.e. so that she can have a bikini body.

So far she does not have a loose skin problem, but if losing a bit more weight would result in loose skin, it would kind of defeat the point of losing weight for vanity reasons.

So the question is whether or not she is pretty much home free at this point.

How old is your friend? As we age, our skin loses its elasticity, and it becomes more and more unable to shrink, when no longer “inflated” by fat. I am in the process of losing weight, and at my age (67) I expect my skin to be hanging in places. If I really wanted to, I could have cosmetic surgery to correct it.

But if your friend hasn’t noticed any change yet, my guess is that another 10-15 pounds won’t suddenly make her skin loser.

I gained a lot of weight quickly over the course of a couple of years and then lost it extremely rapidly (both due to a true medical issue). I lost about 70 pounds over a couple of months which was way to low and I gained some of it back slowly but not nearly as much as it was. I have been down 40 - 50 pounds over the peak for about 5 years. Losing 70 pounds extremely quickly resulted in some mildly loose skin but it snapped back in just a few weeks. There is none now. I was in my mid-30’s when that happened. There is one data point for you.

I don’t think your friend has anything to worry about if she is even remotely young and it will still be a minor issue even if she isn’t.

My understanding is your age, the amount of weight you lose and how fast you lose the weight are important. The older you are, the more you lose and the faster you lose the weight the higher the risk of loose skin.

I have no idea if any topical creams or nutritional products will help. I’ve heard people recommend eating protein as well as vitamin A, C & E to help synthesize collagen, but I have no idea if that actually works in the real world.

There are SO many factors at play here—age, genetics, whether your friend has previously lost and regained significant weight before, how long she’s been heavy, whether she smokes or drinks—the list is really long. But if she’s lost 60 pounds with no noticeable sag, I doubt another 10-15 pounds is going to be an issue.

I lost 170 pounds over approximately 18 months, and my skin did a lot of changing. Things would get rather loose and wobbly, then tighten back up some, get loose again. In the end, I think I have about as much loose skin as any 55 year old woman who’s not spent her life as a supermodel. (grin)

My sister lost about 150 pounds over the course of about 18 months, in her early 40s. She’d been morbidly obese since her early 20s. She has rather large flaps of skin hanging from all over and pretty much the only thing she can do about it is surgery, which her insurance refuses to pay for (because it’s cosmetic and even if her doctors could justify the surgery medically, they still won’t). So she’s been fundraising to try to come up with surgery money.

Well did the skin get steadily looser over the course of the weight loss? Or was it concentrated more towards the end?

I think it got looser over the course of the weight loss. She probably didn’t see much loose skin until she was somewhere around 40 pounds lost or so. I’m not exactly sure – she lives far away. I’ll ask her next time I talk to her.