I don’t want to look like a flying squirrel after my weight loss, so I’ve spent a great deal of time researching ways to combat loose skin, and while there’s no promise of perfect skin after losing a lot of weight, I’ve come up with the most common things that have supposedly been helpful when talking to and reading about people who have lost up to 100 pounds and more.
No, I’m not a skin specialist, but these are the top 10 things that I think I will do in these two months prepping for surgery Dec. 18th. None of these items would be negative, so any benefit that does come from them will be… well... a benefit!
These are in no particular order
1) Coconut Oil – I’m slathering myself in this every day. Coconut oil keeps the skin’s connective tissues strong and supple, and can even help with skin blemishes. I’ve already noticed a major improvement in my skin health since starting this regimen. I’ve always been prone to itchy skin and it has all completely stopped in a matter of days. Also, cooking with coconut oil is the healthiest in my opinion. Cooking with oils such as olive oil is counter-productive because once it reaches a certain temperature it starts to oxidize and release free radicals. That’s never good.
2) Body Brushing aka Dry Brushing - Releases toxins, stimulates the lymphatic system and improves circulation. Always dry brush in a circular motion, brushing toward your middle.
3) Water, Water, Water – Drink, Drink, Drink. If you’re an adult, you know this. Enough said.
4) Weight Training - Work those muscles. This one is tricky for me because I am so arthritic and have fibromyalgia and I have to literally micro-manage my every move in order to prevent adrenal fatigue, but I am so hoping, praying and wishing that once some of this weight comes off and I am in less pain, weight training will be possible again because I love it!
5) Say NO to sun bathing and chlorine – both of these dehydrate your skin. If you’re like me and love to be in the sun, use sunscreen or good clothing coverage. But, for me, I’m personally going to avoid too much direct exposure, at least between now and goal weight. It’s a healthy practice to get into anyway. Unfortunately it can be a catch 22 though, since so many sunscreens are full of skin harming chemicals. Your best bet = cover up! And for Heavens sake – stay out of the tanning bed! If you must go swimming, even in an indoor pool, wash that chlorine off ASAP. Can you say dry skin?
6) Regular Massage – I’m a big believer in massage for too many things to list, but treating your skin to regular massage stimulates your blood cells and lymphatic system. Your skin is your largest organ – treat it nicely
7) Protein – Lots of lean protein will give your skin the collagen and elastin that it needs to stay healthy. If you eat a bunch of crap – expect your skin to be crap, too. I know this from first hand experience. Any time I get off track and start feeding my body junk food, my skin is the first thing to suffer.
8) Use Decent Soap – it doesn’t have to be the most expensive thing on the market, but cleanse your skin with a decent moisturizing cleanser and avoid over-cleansing.
9) Essential Oils – my sister has recently delved into the essential oil world and I’ve really been impressed with some of the studies that have recently been put out. Lavender oil and almond oil just to name a few are amazing things. I add a few drops to my bath when I feel like soaking. It’s good for the skin and the lavender is oh-so-relaxing, too!
10) Compression Wear – The support group meeting that I attend is lead by a bariatric surgery nurse who himself has lost almost 300 lbs. in about 18 months post sleeve. He swears by compression clothing and says it doesn’t have to be the expensive stuff either. Just a good quality compression undershirt and leggings makes a big difference, he says.
Some other ideas I’ve heard about on bariatricpal.com and in my other searches include things like taking beef gelatin, using or making body wraps, using lotion with caffeine, and eating lots of high antioxidant fruits and vegetables. Getting in “lots” of fruits and veggies is particularly challenging for VSG’ers because protein must come first and there’s often not a lot of room for extra. For this reason, taking a bariatric grade supplement for life is critical. A couple of funny comments that I got when I posted a question on a forum about ways to prevent loose skin was “youth” and “good genetics”. I got a good chuckle out of the youth one because now that I’m in my 40’s it’s certainly apparent that I’m not a teenager anymore. But, alas, healthy skin is something we should try to keep at any age.
The bottom line is that none of this may work at all, but if I don't try, and I end up with loose skin, I'll wonder if it would have been better if I tried. If I try them all habitually and I still have loose skin, at least I'll only wonder if it would have been worse if I hadn't.