Loose Skin Controversy

In my time at the Weight Watchers message boards, I’ve learned a valuable lesson: the topic of loose skin after weight loss is very touchy, serious, and controversial.  I almost didn’t want to write about it, because there’s no way to make this subject funny and lighthearted without seeming callous.

For those that may not know, one of the “side effects” of major weight loss can be loose skin that is semi-permanent.  I didn’t even have thoughts of this in my head until watching a marathon of medical shows on Discovery Health about obese patients and the surgeries they required after to remove voluminous folds of extra skin.

I’ll be perfectly honest.  Momentary panic overtook me after watching these shows.  Would I work so hard not to resemble Babar only to trade off for his skin?  As brutal as that sounds, it worried me and almost brought me to a halt.

So I did what I’d done previously: I went to my go-to people, the women (and men) of the forums.  The answers I received to my fear of loose skin were shocking to me: while 50 percent were encouraging and supportive, the other 50 percent were downright hostile.  I can understand that someone else may see their loose skin as a badge of honor, and support that, but I won’t see my own skin the same way.

The rational side of me knows that it’s much healthier to be at a smaller size with looser skin, than to be large with tight skin.  But fear isn’t rational most of the time. 

Despite some of the responses, I tried to take away the more positive replies.  Some were kind enough to share their own personal experiences with me, which were greatly appreciated.  Others shared helpful links, even photos.

One suggestion, however, I would not consider.  Some replied to my post that what did it matter if I got loose skin, I could just have surgery to remove it!  Maybe some people could, but I am a) not rich and b) terrified of being put to sleep because of the possibility of not waking up.  While it would be wonderful if there were a “magic” surgical procedure to fix my problem, I’m not willing to put my life at stake for it.  I support anyone that does choose surgery, however – everyone makes their own decisions based on what is best for them.  Surgery is just not what is best for me.

So this is it for me: I’m doing all the things suggested to try to minimize loose skin, even though I know a great deal of it depends on age, genetics, etc.  I’m just going to have to wait and see what happens, and pray that at the end of my journey, I am happy with the results.


9 thoughts on “Loose Skin Controversy

  1. I’m currently struggling with this issue myself. It is definitely a tough one. I’ve lost 180 lbs. (and am hoping to lose 20 more) so I understand all to well. I will say that I feel confident that some of the things I’ve done, strength training in particular, have helped, but I’m not sure what I’m going to decide in the end. Surgery is certainly not pleasant. Thanks for writing about it. I think we all have to figure this one out for ourselves.

  2. Hi. I have lost 130 lbs on WW and I also frequent the WW message board. I have found on a number of occasions very hostile replies and bitter people. Not all of them, but a couple of my posts were met with plain old meaness.

    I have loose skin. It is not extremely bad like you see on the show you are watching though. I did a post on it at my blog http://run4change.wordpress.com

    Some people don’t get it and some do. It all has to do with how much elasticity is left. I gained and lost a lot so there was not much left in mine. Even after numberous marathons I still have loose skin. It is not so bad considering the alternative of never losing the 130 lbs but it still kind of sucks.

    Also, I am 100% deathly afraid of going under. Not sure why but it freaks me the heck out. I had surgery on my hand once and they wanted to put me under, I feaked out and they ended up doing a nerve block so that I could be awake during it. There are risks to major abdominal surgery so even if I had the money I am not sure I would have the surgery.

    Good post.

  3. I have lost 66 lbs on weight watchers (another 16 lbs before) for a total of 82 lbs. Well, I am definitely starting to have loose skin – not as bad as on the shows, but its there. And I have 15 lbs left to go.

    I think people react so negatively to this discussion because loose skin, at least for me, will be a constant reminder of what I did to myself. How bad I let things get. And that’s tough to face in the mirror everyday. Even tougher, it sucks my body will never look as good as it could in a bikini. I mean for all the working out and toning I do, I should be able to rock one, but I won’t because my breasts sag (loose skin) and my tummy is bubbly (loose skin) and my thighs wiggle (loose skin). And I have no control over it – unless I opt for expensive, and not without its risks, surgery.

    That loose skin literally mocks me – for what I was, for putting in so much work on my body and not seeing it shape up as I hope. BUT, you know what? Its better than diabetes, heart disease, and early death. And you know what? I am going to have kids anyways, so they were eventually going to sag and stretch, right? And you know what – I beat the fat, so who cares about loose skin.

    I hate seeing people freak out about loose skin on the weight watcher boards because it dredges up so many unresolved emotions for me. I am trying so hard to be ok with this, but how can I when I see others airing my deep dark insecurities? That is why people react so vehemently to this topic.

  4. run4change, your pictures are so inspiring! Your blog is great, and it’s good to know that someone else has a fear of surgery. Thank you so much for your comment.

  5. Natalie,

    Thank you for your comment. I definitely appreciate your opinion, and I realize that we will have differing opinions on this topic because we are at two different places on the weight loss spectrum, in part. You have already had great success and have seen the progression and how it is affecting you – I’m looking into the abyss, so to speak. I have no idea what will happen to me, and that is very scary to me.

    As to the boards, I can only hope that it will continue to be a generally supportive place, and that everyone will take posts with both a grain of salt and a sense of understanding.

  6. I am almost sure that i will have loose skin at the end of my journey due to the fact that i had twins and my stomach already has a little bit and i have just started my journey toward weight loss. It is a big fear of mine. while my strech marks are a badge of honor from my kids, loose skin just grosses me out…. i am scared a bit of surgery but after having 2 c-sections i believe that i could handle a tummy tuck… lol. I may not be able to afford it now but surely will plan to save for it once i reach my goal! thanks for posting that its good to know im not the only one with that fear.

  7. Christine – thank *you* for commenting! It definitely helps me to know that I’m not alone in this fear as well.

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