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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 42

Loose abdominal skin after weight loss.

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

Give your body some time

Congratulations on your weight loss.  Losing 75 pounds is a tremendous accomplishment.  Significant weight loss, as you have undergone, often is more than the skin can fully rebound from.  You may see loose skin in your lower abdomen and around your umbilicus, in particular.  If this continues to persist and is bothersome to you, it is likely that a board certified plastic surgeon can help you by tightening your skin and smoothing the contour of your abdomen.  However, because you are young, your skin is likely to have more elasticity and you may continue to see improvement in your skin contour without surgery.  I would continue to give your body time until you feel that your improvement has plateaued.

Your young age is in your favor

Unfortunately, no amount of "working out" will tighten skin although building up muscle in certain areas may stretch the skin ever so slightly to make it appear less loose. Because you are young, perhaps the elasticity in your skin is sufficient to see some tightening of your loose skin. No skin creams will help.

The most definitive treatment if the problem remains and is bothersome enough is surgical tightening (tummy tuck). You may want to explore various minimally invasive or non-invasive skin tightening energy delivery systems such as radio frequency devices. Results can be quite subtle and costly with the need for multiple treatments.

David J. Levens, MD
Coral Springs Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 31 reviews

Can I tighten my loose abdominal skin without surgery?

Congratulations on your successful weight loss. We all know how difficult it is and how much dedication it takes. Judging by your photographs it appears that you have some, but not much, loose skin in the lower abdomen. It's difficult to tell whether or not you have any stretch marks. However I cannot see any in your photograph. Stretch marks are a result of tearing in the lower layer of your skin. This tearing damages the elastic quality of the skin preventing the skin from retracting or shrinking. In the absence of stretch marks its possible that you will continue to slowly improve over the next 1-2 years. Normally it is best to postpone surgical recontouring of the abdomen until childbearing is over. In the meantime there are no creams or topical treatments that will dependably tighten your skin.

John J. Edney, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 81 reviews

Age is on your side

Theres a good chance you can make major improvements with just diet and exercise given your age and nullpariety (no kids). As with other docs, I don't think creams are the way to go but definitely moisturize. Good luck for your continued weight loss success.

Robert Frank, MD
Munster Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

My experience: The Best Way to Reduce Loose Tummy Skin

A tummy tuck is the only reliable method to eliminate loose abdominal skin. The various nonsurgical treatments that are promoted with the promise to deliver skin shrinkage or reduction including laser and radio frequency (RF) procedures are either almost completely inadequate or, worse, they can cause undesired outcomes like scarring, burns, and/ or pigmentation issues. Smartlipo, in particular, is promoted to reduce fat and shrink abdominal skin. But in my experience, based upon seeing many patients who consult with me for revision surgery after having Smartlipo, it is not uncommon for them to have significant contour irregularity and deformity of the abdominal skin as a result. For that reason, when loose skin is present on the abdomen, my only recommendation is abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) surgery. 

Loose skin after weight loss

Thank you for sharing your photo, and congratulations on your weight loss - you look fantastic!  I can certainly understand your dilemma - the small amount of excess skin you have wouldn't seem severe enough to warrant surgery, but on the other hand, it is unlikely that any amount of exercise or any skin cream will resolve it. You'd be a reasonable candidate for Ultherapy (radiofrequency), which can produce a moderate amount of tightening.  That said, a mini tummy tuck might be the most effective option - the incision is much shorter than that of a full tummy tuck, the belly button isn't altered, and the recovery is significantly easier.  I'd recommend an in-person consultation with a qualified, board-certified plastic surgeon.

Joshua D. Zuckerman, MD, FACS
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Skin tightening

That is a tremendous accomplishment but the skin has trouble tightening with a large weight loss.  

Please find an experienced Board Certified Plastic Surgeon and member of the Aesthetic Society using the Smart Beauty Guide. These Plastic Surgeons can guide you on all aspects of facial surgery, breast augmentation and body procedures including tummy tucks or mommy makeovers!

Surgery is the best option to tighten excess skin

Congratulations on your weight loss! It’s very common for men or women who lose that much weight (especially if it’s lost quickly) to notice loose or excess skin that remains behind, and surgery remains the best way to resolve that concern. Judging from your photos, this issue looks localized only to your abdomen. I suggest scheduling a consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon who can conduct a physical evaluation and give a recommendation about what he or she feels would help give you the results you want, most likely requiring a tummy tuck.

Removing excess skin

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 12 reviews

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.