Losing weight or having a baby can be amazing and wonderful milestones! What do they both have in common? Sometimes, they leave behind a souvenir that we are not expecting and do not want – loose skin! Today, we will be talking about how to tighten loose skin on the stomach and exploring solutions for saggy belly skin after pregnancy and weight loss.
When we should be celebrating by treating ourselves to some new and smaller jeans, we are self-conscious and upset because our stomach does not look like we thought it would. Do not despair, there are a few things you can do to tighten that loose stomach skin. Before you know it, you will be admiring yourself in the dressing room mirror and sporting those smaller jeans in style.
What Causes Loose Skin?
Weight loss, pregnancy, and age can be factors that cause individuals to gain weight. Gaining a bunch of weight can cause the skin to stretch. Depending on how long an individual carries this extra weight, this skin may not be able to go back to its original form.
One reason for this is that the longer the skin is stretched out, the more damaged and weakened the collagen and elastin fibers become. Think of an elastic waistband that has been stretched past its capacity until the fibers of the elastic are damaged. The same happens to the collagen fibers in our skin and the damage done prevents the skin from retracting to where it was previously.
As we age, the odds that our skin will retract diminish because as we age, our collagen production goes down. Smoking and sun exposure also cause damage to the collagen fibers in our skin and can contribute to the amount of sagging we experience.
Excess Fat vs. Loose Skin: How to Tell the Difference
Before we can devise a plan of attack against the loose skin, we need to determine if it truly is loose skin, or if it’s possibly excess fat. But how do we know it? Sometimes, it is hard to determine the difference between loose skin vs fat but here are some things to look for:
It is probably loose skin vs fat if:
- When you pinch the excess in the abdomen, you only can get about 2-3 mm of skin between your fingers;
- The percentage of body fat you have is 9-10 percent for a man and 17-18 percent for a woman;
- The area that concerns you is saggy and very wrinkled-looking.
It is probably excess fat vs loose skin if:
- When you pinch the excess in your abdomen you get more than a few millimeters of skin;
- Your body fat percentages exceed 10% for a man and 18% for a woman;
- The area that concerns you is saggy but not very wrinkled.
If you are dealing with loose skin vs fat, advances in cosmetic procedures offer many solutions to address this issue. There are both surgical and non-surgical options to tackle excess skin if this is the issue you are dealing with. And if excess fat is what is troubling you, there are excellent options available to combat it as well. Let’s take a look at some of the solutions for both excess skin and excess fat.
Ways to Tighten Loose Skin on the Stomach
If you have loose skin due to major weight loss or are wondering how to tighten belly skin after pregnancy, you are not alone. The solution that will fit your circumstances is going to depend upon how much loose skin is present.
For moderate to major loose skin issues, a surgical procedure may be the best solution. A mild amount of loose skin may respond well to radiofrequency treatments, massage, or skin treatments.
Surgical Solutions for Loose Skin on the Stomach
1. Tummy Tuck
A tummy tuck or abdominoplasty is a procedure where a surgeon removes loose skin and repairs stretched or separated muscles in the stomach/abdomen. This surgery is often performed after the patient has a baby or loses a significant amount of weight, such as after bariatric surgery.
Sometimes, the natural aging process will produce loose skin that can only be corrected through a tummy tuck. A traditional tummy tuck can address the entire abdomen fixing any lax muscles, removing excess skin above and below the belly button if necessary, and even repositioning the belly button when needed.
2. Mini Tummy Tuck
A mini tummy tuck is a “light” tummy tuck. It only addresses the areas below the belly button in the lower abdomen. It’s best for patients who only require the removal of a mild amount of excess skin with a small amount of lift. It creates a flatter, tighter lower abdomen and is often used after a C-section to fix the scar placement.
3. Tummy Tuck with Liposuction
If you have issues with both excess fat and loose skin a tummy tuck accompanied by liposuction would be the perfect solution. Traditionally, tummy tucks do not deal with excess fat, they simply remove loose skin and repair structures under the skin (like muscles). Liposuction removes excess fat and can help contour different parts of the abdomen. The two procedures go hand-in-hand and produce optimal results.
How to Tighten Loose Skin on the Stomach WITHOUT Surgery
There have been many advances in cosmetic procedures that can produce dramatic results that were once only achieved through surgery. The advancement in radiofrequency technology has opened up numerous possibilities for reshaping areas of the body and creating contours while toning and tightening the skin. These procedures work best on patients who do not have a significant amount of excess skin or body fat to eliminate.
BodyTite™ is a minimally invasive procedure that uses radiofrequency-assisted lipolysis (RFAL) that reduces fat deposits and tightens skin in one procedure. During the procedure, a cosmetic surgeon inserts a thin cannula just under the skin into the fat layer that works with the radiofrequency paddle that is on top of the skin moving it simultaneously. Excess fat is liquified and removed, and the skin is tightened.
Results can be seen right away and gradually improve over a six-month period. This is a dual treatment that can be used to address both loose skin and excess fat in the stomach area.
2. How to Tighten Stomach Skin with Evolve
Three non-surgical treatments make up the Evolve Body Contouring family. They work together to address many common problem areas that many individuals face. Each can be done on its own or with sibling treatments.
These painless procedures are quick and suitable for all types of skin, can be customized to target specific issues per patient, and do not have any associated downtime.
- Evolve Tite smoothes and tightens the skin using heat energy targeted at the subdermal layer. This radiofrequency method is targeted to specific areas to re-contour and shape the body while promoting new collagen growth. It results in smoother, tighter, and more toned looking skin.
- Evolve Trim helps remove targeted areas of unwanted fat and cellulite. It works by combining heat with a negative tissue vacuum and can reach down to the deep layers of subcutaneous fat. It is not for use in large areas for fat removal. However, it does address and remove cellulite, which leaves skin looking smoother and more sculpted.
- Evolve Tone – once the fat has been reduced and the skin tightened, Evolve Tone can come in and create muscle definition using EMS (electrical muscle stimulation). It not only makes your muscles look better but increases their strength as well. It gives you the look and benefits of working out in the gym for hours, except you don’t need to.
PHYSIQ is a non-invasive treatment that pairs Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) and Sequential Thermal and Electrical Pulse (STEP) technologies to firm, tone, and refine areas that have been resistant to diet and exercise.
PHYSIQ is an excellent treatment for use on the abdomen and strategically targets excess fat and muscles simultaneously. Deep heat and electrical stimulation radiate through the tissues working together to reduce fat, tighten the skin, and enhance muscle definition.
4. Kybella to Eliminate Stomach Fat
Kybella is made from a synthetic form of deoxycholic acid, which is a naturally occurring acid in our bodies. It is used to break down fat and eliminate it. Kybella is approved by the FDA to treat fat deposits in the chin and neck areas (double chin) but it can also be used to eliminate unwanted stomach or abdominal fat.
Kybella removes fat using a series of targeted injections and works gradually over time. It can be used to strategically target those fat deposits that are the most stubborn and unyielding, even to diet and exercise. It has been successfully used to eliminate mild amounts of fat in targeted areas in body contouring patients.
How Can I Tighten My Belly Skin at Home?
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle – individuals who have lost weight and new mothers who have mild loose skin issues may be able to correct these naturally on their own at home or through holistic methods.
- Eat healthily – consuming nutrient-rich foods with natural sources of vitamin C like citrus fruit, strawberries, kiwis, bell peppers, etc. and healthy sources of fat and Omega 3 (salmon, olive oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds) help fuel your body to produce collagen. Staying hydrated is also very important for the health of your skin and it promotes elasticity. Drinking at least 64 oz. of water a day is recommended.
- Exercise – focus on exercises that help strengthen your deep core, transform abdomen and pelvic floor. They can help get your belly back in shape. Using resistance bands during strength training exercises is beneficial in reducing loose skin. Exercises like squats, planks, bicycle crunches, and leg raise help define the stomach area. Before starting any exercise routine speak to your doctor for recommendations.
- Use topical body treatments:
- Body massage – many patients say that massage using massage oils or coconut oil is beneficial to them helping their skin stay hydrated and promoting the production of collagen.
- Body scrubs can also help improve circulation while also exfoliating the area of dead skin cells. Sea salt scrubs help exfoliate the surface of the skin while delivering minerals like calcium, potassium, and magnesium, which help improve the skin’s overall appearance. You can easily create your own unique blend by adding ingredients like vitamin E, shea butter, coffee, organic seaweed, etc.
- Topical creams and lotions – you can try topical solutions for minor loose skin sagging issues. They are available in both over-the-counter and prescription-strength (Retin-A) options and can help improve elasticity or boost collagen production.
If you experience a moderate to significant weight loss or are simply a victim of the natural aging process and are looking for options to eliminate loose skin or stubborn fat deposits in your stomach area, contact SurgiCare Arts today to set up a consultation. During your consultation, we will evaluate your aesthetic goals and discuss the best options available to address your areas of concern.
Dr. Angelina Postoev, MD, FACS, a triple-board certified cosmetic surgeon, and Christopher Ibikunle, MD, FACS, offer skin tightening and fat-reducing treatments for men and women in Atlanta, Lawrenceville, Suwanee, Johns Creek, and the surrounding areas of Atlanta, Georgia.