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Created for Greatist by the experts at Healthline. Read more
You just worked your butt off to lose some weight, but feeling lighter isn’t your only reward. Maybe your cheeks seem deflated. Or your booty got droopy. Your jawline’s sagging, and even your knees look wrinkly.
What’s the deal? Why didn’t your skin snap tight to your new bod?
Loose skin is usually a result of rapid weight loss. This can mean giving birth or having bariatric surgery, which leaves up to 70 percent of patients with loose skin.
Probably not. It’s tough to shrink loose skin without medical intervention, especially since adults produce limited collagen and elastin (the magic ingredients that make a baby’s skin so smooth and bouncy).
Here’s what influences your skin’s ability to tighten up
- Age. The older you get, the less collagen and elastin your body makes. Less collagen = more loose skin.
- Stretch marks. These “tiger stripes” are actually scars caused by ruptured collagen and elastin fibers. It’s tough to tighten loose skin near stretch marks.
- Nutrition. Glowing, supple skin starts in your gut. Vitamin deficiencies are a real downer for stretched-out skin.
- Skin damage. Thanks for nothing, ye olde tanning salons of our high school days!
While there’s no magic way to shrink skin overnight, a few things could help over time.
Attention, all cardio bunnies! You might have stair-stepped your way to weight loss, but it’s muscle mass that will plump and tighten skin from the inside out.
Full disclosure — weight training doesn’t shrink your skin. Instead, it helps replace lost fat with new muscle mass. Your skin will look smoother and you’ll feel stronger and healthier.
PSA for the new mommas:
If your loose skin is a side effect of pregnancy, talk to your doctor before lifting weights. You might need to avoid certain moves for a while.
Do you mew?
If you’re trying to tighten up a loose forehead, cheeks, or chin, lifting weights isn’t going to do much. And though fans of face yoga — otherwise known as mewing — claim it works, there isn’t much research to back it up.
Gallons of firming cream won’t banish crazy-loose skin, but it can have a subtle tightening effect. It’s especially good at plumping thin, dry skin. That’s because the cream’s effect is literally only skin-deep.
Look for these types.
- Firming creams. Multi-ingredient firming creams pack a punch. Whether you’re looking for one with vitamins, gelatin (full of collagen), or fruit extracts, you might need to try a few brands before you find one that works for you.
- Retinoids. Remember how collagen keeps your skin strong and tight? Well, retinoids are like armor that protects your skin’s collagen factories. Check out retinoid creams here.
- Collagen. Another option is to slather on collagen directly. Hello, strong, elastic skin! Shop for collagen here.
- Grapeseed oil. Hoping for a natural, plant based solution? Snag a bottle of grapeseed oil. This slippery little ointment makes your skin silky and maaaybe a bit tighter. Check out these grapeseed oil blends.
Fans of jade rollers and facial scrubs, unite! Frequent users can attest that rubbing skin increases blood flow — and blood flow promotes proper cell function.
In one small study, women who combined a hand-operated facial massager with anti-aging cream had better results than the participants who used just the cream.
So next time you splurge on that trendy cream, rub it in with a roller or face massager.
The path to smoother skin is healthier skin. Supplements help.
- Vitamin C. Your body needs vitamin C to make collagen, so drink up that OJ! Or pop some vitamin C pills.
- Gelatin. Break out the gummies! Yes, you can totally nosh on Sour Patch Kids and Jello for gelatin. It’s just cooked collagen from animals, TBH. But you can also get it in supplement form.
Some studies have shown that gelatin supplements could help your body pump out more collagen during your next sweat sesh.
- Collagen hydrolysate. A 2015 study suggested that ingesting collagen helps your skin fight back against age-related sags and wrinkles. Check out collagen hydrolysate supplements here.
- Protein. Protein is one of your body’s most basic building blocks. It strengthens your bones, nails, and, yes — your skin! The amino acids in protein (lysine and proline) help your body pump out collagen.
Rapid weight loss causes loose skin, but sometimes your jiggle is because of stubborn fat. Subcutaneous fat lies directly under your skin and can make things look a little loose and wobbly.
Here’s your test: Pinch sagging skin between two fingers. Is it thicker than a few millimeters? If so, you’ve got some subcutaneous fat hanging on. Losing a few more pounds could nix the fat and firm your skin.
Head to your nearest med-spa or dermatologist for these non-invasive skin-tightening treatments. No scalpel required!
- Chemical peels. Welcome to one of the oldest celebrity tricks in the book. Chemical peels cause your outer layer of skin (the saggiest part) to peel away, revealing shiny, smoother skin underneath.
- Ultrasound skin tightening. Known as ultherapy, this treatment stimulates collagen production by heating your skin’s deepest layers. It’s best for tightening up saggy skin near your eyes, neck, and chin.
- Radiofrequency. Similar to ultherapy, radiofrequency treatments heat up your skin’s outer layer (the loose one) to force it into a collagen-producing frenzy.
- IPL/RF combo. Combining intense pulsed light (IPL) and radiofrequency (RF) treatments is a great way to fire up both the surface and deep layers of skin for maximum collagen production.
- Ablative laser resurfacing. This is one of Kim K’s go-to facial treatments for a reason. Laser resurfacing is like a chemical peel plus ultrasound tightening.
Your top layer of skin peels away while the laser’s heat kickstarts collagen production underneath.
- Neuromodulators. Oh hey there, Botox! Whether you call it a neuromodulator or neurotoxin, these injections freeze your muscles so that wrinkles relax and smooth out until the solution wears off.
It’s a temporary fix (at least until your next injection), but there’s minimal downtime.
Sometimes all the remedies and spa treatments in the world aren’t effective enough to tighten and shrink loose skin. In these cases, body-contouring surgery could be an option.
For this cosmetic surgery, your doctor will make an incision (the “nip”) and cut out extra fat and skin before sewing you back up (the “tuck”).
This is a pretty serious ordeal, complete with hospital stay and extra recovery time. Chat with your doctor if you’re interested in body-contouring.
Saggy skin can be frustrating, especially if you’ve worked hard to lose weight. But there are ways to deal with the loose or jiggly parts of your body.
Collagen is the biggest factor in your skin’s tightness and elasticity. Most loose skin treatments, from creams to laser resurfacing, focus on boosting collagen production.
Lifestyle changes can keep collagen from slowing down even more. Take your vitamins, stop smoking (if you do), avoid tanning, and swap out harsh skin care for products with nourishing, medical-grade ingredients.