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Can I Tighten my Loose Abdominal Skin Without Surgery? (photo)

I am 18 years old, and about a year ago I lost 75 pounds in 9 months. I have a bit of loose skin around my ab area but it doesn't seem to be too severe. I work out a lot and my abs seem to have improved. Do I need plastic surgery to tighten the skin or can I do it naturally with exercise and skin creams?

Doctor Answers (33)

Loose abdominal skin after weight loss.

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Thank you for your question Iris.  First of all, congratulations on losing 75 pounds. Exercise will certainly improve the abdominal muscles but unfortunately will not tighten your skin. Skin creams will also not tighten the skin (despite what all those T.V. ads claim).  It does appear from your photograph that your skin looks good in the upper abdomen but there does appear to be a slight excess in  the lower abdomen.  If this is the case then you may be a candidate for a minor or lower tummy tuck. Only an examination by a board certified plastic surgeon will settle this issue. 

San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

Removing excess skin

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Thank you so much for your question.

Congratulations on your weight loss.It takes a great deal of dedication and you did it!

For any loose or excess skin remaining after weight loss, skin for the most part cannot be restored to its natural position. A tummy tuck would indeed resolve this issue.

With that said, when meeting with a board certified surgeon they will explain the different variations in abdominoplasty surgery which include the following:

*Full abdominoplasty – for above and below the navel abdominal improvements*
Mini-abdominoplasty – for below the navel abdominal improvements
*Liposuction – used with a full or mini-abdominoplasty or alone for patients with minimal redundant skin and fat deposits

I hope this helps.

Glynn Bolitho, PhD, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

Loose abdominal skin after weight loss

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Excellent achievement with your weight loss! The appearance of your abdominal skin has many factors. Unfortunately, loose skin can not be tightened with exercise. Topical creams typically are very expensive and give little to no result. If you have loose skin after a large weight loss that is persistent after 6-8 months, you probably will not have any improvement without speaking about a tummy tuck operation. I would advise you to speak with a plastic surgeon to have a personalized evaluation.

Rachel Streu, MD
Ann Arbor Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Loose skin and Tummy Tuck

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There are some minimally invasive therapies that can address the loose skin although the result is not as drastic as a surgical procedure such as a tummy tuck. You seem to be a good candidate for a mini tummy tuck or just a mini dermolipectomy where there is no need to tighten the muscles. 

Tighten my Loose Abdominal Skin Without Surgery

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Based on your photos, exercise may tighten the muscles significantly but may not meet your objectives to correct the loose skin. You may want to consider a mini tummy tuck. Consult in person with 3 board certified plastic surgeons to understand your options and choose the surgeon/surgical plant that best meets your needs/objectives.

Kris M. Reddy, MD, FACS
West Palm Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 20 reviews

Correcting loose skin without surgery

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In my office and medical spa. we offer laser skin tightening. It can and does work on some people. The face and neck are far more responsive than body areas. The people with the best skin quality get the best results. It is clearly not for everyone and you should not waste your money if it's not for you.  Only an in person consultation with a plastic survey medical spa you trust can determine whether or not laser skin tightening could be a good option for you. Your young age could mean that your skin could respond well, but the significant weight loss could have compromised your skin. 
Sometimes, a little time after major weight loss can make the skin improve. Congratulations on your weight loss. 

Michael Law, MD
Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 46 reviews

Abdominoplasty planning

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When evaluating an abdomen several factors must be examined
  1. Skin
  2. Subcutaneous fat
  3. Anterior abdominal wall laxity
  4. Intra-abdominal fat or visceral fat
If your skin has multiple stretch marks then liposuction may not be the best option. There are modifications of an abdominoplasty but in your particular case a standard abdominoplasty would be the best choice. This will flatten the abdominal bulge, contour the abdomen with liposuction of the trunk, flanks and posterior hips, and tighten the skin. The trade off is the scar. This is an individual decision for your to make after you weigh the risks and benefits. If you want to have a flat abdomen the trade off is the scar that can be hidden by your bathing suit or underwear. With proper planning the scar can be managed. Proactive scar care is vital to obtain an aesthetic result.

Jeffrey Zwiren, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Skin Tightening Usually Requires Surgery

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                  It’s not unusual for patients who undergo significant weight loss to have large amounts of redundant abdominal wall tissue.  In the vast majority, correction usually requires a full abdominoplasty.

                   Many weight loss patients are reluctant to undergo a procedure of this magnitude for a variety of reasons.  These include general anesthesia, scarring, and lack of financial resources.

                   For these reasons they often seek non-surgical alternatives.  Unfortunately, there are no creams, exercises, or laser treatments that effectively treat this problem.

                   Despite a significant weight loss, your pictures suggest an 18 year old with a relatively minor deformity.  Under these circumstances your best option is to continue the healthy life style that you’ve initiated.  Non-surgical methods of treatment wouldn’t significantly impact your problem, and the risk benefit ratio of surgery isn’t acceptable in someone your age who may eventually want to have children.

                   If you’re concerned about this problem consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon is appropriate.  This surgeon should be able to help you with this problem.

Skin Laxity after Weight Loss

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Excess weight can cause our skin to stretch and grow to accommodate our body size.  When we lose weight it tend to contract somewhat, but not completely depending on how much weight is lost and how quickly.  Patients that undergo bariatric (weight loss) surgery tend to be malnourished and lose the weight quickly, not giving the skin enough time to contract, thus is tends to be loose and hang more.  Patients that lose the weight slowly with diet and exercise tend to have better skin elasticity and tone some hypothesize is from growth hormone secretion with exercise.  There are some energy modalities used to try to tighten the skin including ablative lasers (hot), non ablative lasers (cool), fractional lasers (combination), ultrasound, radio-frequency and now freezing the skin.  These do not work on everyone and are costly requiring multiple treatments.  They work on the molecular level with tightening of collagen or thickening the deeper layers of the skin, so the results are limited and vary. Tummy tucks or modified with skin only excision maximally tighten the skin with the trade off of a scar.

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.