OK, time for some real talk, my disciples...
The influence of media is an insidious thing. People tend to believe everything they see on television even though they know that good television leaves out the less thrilling facts. Take for example the show, The Biggest Loser, where the truly obese undergo a startling transformation through nothing but sheer hard work and a strict, healthy diet.
However, they left out a little something between the before and after pictures: the loose skin after weight loss.
Not that people who lose a lot of weight are not to be congratulated for taking control of their health! Going from 550 to 200 lb is a feat in itself, and getting fit could not have been easy any way you look at it. The audience understands that and is ready for the sweat, pain, and tears that may face them when they embark on the same odyssey. What they don’t understand is that the 350 lb that had been lost (for example) used to be encased in skin and is now no longer there. What happens to all that extra skin?
The fact is, skin remains for many people that lose a lot of weight. While some of it may contract, most of it stays loose. Typically, a weight loss of 350 lb will leave behind about 70 lb of loose skin... that's a LOT of skin! The problems this presents is difficult to appreciate for people who have not experienced what it is to carry around that much loose skin.
I must put a disclaimer on this by the way, as your beloved Sage has decided to get a bit serious for this post!
I hope it hits home for those of you out there that may be experiencing these issues, but only for in the hopes that you know that there is hope out there and that you are not alone.
I do hope it will also enlighten others that think lightly of this sort of thing, as watching your body transform before your very eyes is not something everyone is privy to in their lives. Alas, there are those of us that are "blessed" with the chance to experience it.
Here are 9 things only people with excess skin after weight loss will understand:
1. Dealing with the shock
The reality of loose sagging skin only begins to dawn for most people on an aggressive weight loss track when they stop being thrilled looking at the numbers on the weighing scale and look in the mirror. Some have described it as being like a “saggy, baggy elephant” and most simply can't believe what they are seeing. There is a major disconnect between the projection of what you should look like and reality. For many, it is a rude awakening that they have trouble coping with and accepting.
2. Dealing with clothes
Despite the weight loss, clothes don’t fit right because standard measurements don’t account for loose skin. Even if you should theoretically fit into a size 8, you will have to struggle getting into a size 12, and even then it pinches and pulls. There is just no getting around the sagging skin... and then you start asking things like, "is loose skin surgery the only option?"
3. Dealing with the public
Let's be honest--It looks weird, so people will stare. They may not mean to be cruel (although some are not as considerate) but it is a very compelling sight. It is like watching a train wreck; you just can’t look away.
4. Dealing with depression
Once you have gotten over the horror of your loose, saggy excess skin, you stumble into another unpalatable truth. You now realize that losing the weight was only half the battle. Just the concept of measuring the monumental hard work you've already put into your efforts, against the prevalence of inevitable excess skin removal will certainly crush your spirit. This realization can send anyone spiraling down to depression.
5. Dealing with anger
Many people on serious weight loss programs probably promised themselves that it was going to be worth it, because at the end of the day, they will look good and they will be happy. After all, that’s what the media is always telling them. When they end up dealing with the massive amounts of loose saggy skin that nobody bothered to warn them about, they feel cheated and angry. They will have to start asking themselves how to get rid of loose skin.
6. Dealing with self-disgust
The psychological impact of others looking at all that saggy skin with disgust is nothing compared with that of looking at one’s self with similar loathing. It carries over to work, the community, and loved ones. It can begin to distance you from others and make it difficult for people to reach out to you. Your life soon becomes more and more withdrawn.
7. Dealing with temptation
People with massive amounts of sagging loose skin start to believe that the only way to live with it is to gain the weight back. Some have even shown that the loose skin looks better when it is filled in a little. The problem is knowing when to stop filling it in, which was the situation in the first place for pretty much everyone struggling with obesity and weight loss.
8. Dealing with hopelessness
Some people are able to pull themselves up by the straps and deal with the loose skin one way or the other, but the majority simply give up. They have no idea of what to do next and have no guidance except to have it surgically removed. And loose skin surgery can be a major problem as well...
9. Dealing with the cost
The cost of excessive loose skin to psychological, emotional, and physical health is high, and this is compounded by the fact that the financial cost of it having it surgically removed is often beyond the capacity of the sufferers. It is considered a “cosmetic” procedure that is excluded from most health plans in the US, so if you're wondering how to tighten skin after weight loss with your coverage, you're unfortunately fresh out of luck.
Perhaps the biggest problem that people with excess loose skin have is reconciling what they have been hearing all their lives with reality. Most of us are told by our family, friends, and the media that if the weight comes off it will make them feel better about ourselves, and we will be able to live happy and healthy lives ever after. This is obviously not the case.
Nobody ever said anything about loose skin and what it means to live with it, or how to tighten loose skin after the fact. Unfortunately, for the truly admirable few who persevered in their aim to lose the weight and take control of their lives, they are now just realizing it with a vengeance.
The emphasis has been on losing the weight, and not on what happen after we lose it. Experts state that massive weight loss with minimal skin looseness is possible if the right exercise regiment and diet is followed. However, sagging skin sufferers are a small voice lost among the oceans of ads and mantras spouting, “lose 10 lb in 1 week with this wonder diet", or “20 lb in 15 days on this innovative exercise regimen". The clamor for fast, unadulterated diet pills and blistering workouts will drown them out time after time again.
The least we can do is try to get some attention around the issue and teach people struggling with weight loss and saggy skin how to prevent the issue. Check this article out for some simple techniques you can use to prevent your skin from sagging after weight loss.
Well, I hope I was able to shed some light on the subject of saggy, loose skin for all of you out there in skinny-land! The fact is, not a lot of people have the courage or the muster to even begin a life-changing journey towards a new body and the shock of sagging skin is enough to derail anyone's confidence.
Be sure to keep these problems in mind the next time you come across someone with loose skin and remember...
Their battle is still only half-won!
All this talk about weight loss sent me on a search for some obesity facts! After all, some preventive tips and tricks to keep the pounds from piling up will preserve your skin the way it is... hopefully nice, tight and taught!
Check out these great obesity and weight loss infographics Google sent my way and please don't hesitate to give the sites cited within the images a visit if you need more info.