Our skin is remarkably elastic, but sometimes it just doesn't retain its shape and strength after being stretched out by weight gain.
Skin is an organ — our largest one — made up of collagen and elastin, among other components. Collagen is a protein that supports our body’s tissues, explains Dr. Saul Lahijani, a cosmetic surgeon based in Los Angeles.
"Collagen is the primary component of the body's connective tissue,” Lahijani says. "About 80 per cent of the dermis (the part of your skin that's under the epidermis or the outer layer) is collagen. Collagen gives your skin strength."
Lahijani adds collagen and elastin are fibres that make up the supporting structure of our skin. "Collagen gives skin its firmness, while elastin keeps skin tight.” But over time, and with damage such as sun exposure, our skin loses these fibres. As a result, our skin loses its ability to bounce back and is not as firm and/or tight as it once was.
"Remember, skin is a live organ that expands (more skin is created) when patients gain weight,” says Dr. Thomas Sterry, a NYC board certified plastic surgeon. "Unfortunately, there is very limited ability for the skin to tighten as weight is lost."
If you’ve lost a significant amount of weight, or are in the process of doing so, you may be concerned about loose skin left behind. Here are nine tips on why it happens and how to handle it.