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 58

Give your body some time

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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.

Loose skin after weight loss

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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.

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. 

Donald M. Brown, MD (retired)
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon

Loose Abdominal Skin

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Unfortunately there are no creams that will tighten your loose skin. Exercise will improve your abdominal muscles but not tighten the loose skin. I suggest you schedule a consultaion with a plastic surgeon to evaluate you and review your options to get your desired results.

Your young age is in your favor

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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 79 reviews

My experience: The Best Way to Reduce Loose Tummy Skin

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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. 

Non-surgical skin tightening

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I am always very happy for people who are successful at losing large amounts of weight.  It is difficult to do so and something to be proud of.  The unfortunate side effect is the common occurrence of loose skin.  I often talk with people who are frustrated that they are unable to do anything to tighten the skin through exercise or other methods at home.  The reality is that there is nothing you can do on your own to tighten loose skin.  There are some non-surgical skin tightening methods using various kinds of energy applied to the skin to obtain tightening.  Most people will be disappointed with the outcome.  These methods will only make subtle differences, and they can often require many treatment at a high cost.  The most reliable way to tighten skin is through surgical removal of the excess.  It is best to talk with a plastic surgeon that has many different way to treat you and therefore will guide you through a decision to choose what is best for you.

Kenton Schoonover, MD
Wichita Plastic Surgeon

Tightening Loose Abdominal Skin Without Surgery

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Thank you for your question. First and foremost, CONGRATULATIONS on your substantial weight loss. You have certainly done so much to improve your overall health and well-being, and certainly your appearance. The excess skin that is seen in the picture is, as you say, not that bad at all. If anyone has a chance of having the skin retract back to its original state, it is you. You are young, hopefully healthy, and, please tell me, you don't smoke. Skin is a funny organ, in the sense that we cannot predict how it will react to specific situations in life. We can surmise or make educated guesses based on various factors, but we just cannot accurately predict. If you are desperate to improve your lower abdominal contour, then you can probably do a mini-tummy tuck only. A mini-tummy tuck is a procedure where the excess skin and fatty tissue from the lower abdomen is removed, without upward dissection of the abdominal plane, relocation of the umbilicus, or plication of the abdominal musculature. The scar that results is similar to a C-section scar - horizontal, smaller than a full tummy tuck scar, and located between the pubic region and the lower abdomen. It is very well tolerated, and most importantly, doesn't burn any bridges. In essence, if doing a mini-tummy tuck, one can always undergo a full tummy tuck in the future without any problems, if that is what you may determine you'd like. Either way, make sure that you consult with a Board-certified plastic surgeon so that you get bonafide, authentic, and reliable information regarding this issue. Congratulations again - keep it up!! Hope this helps. Good luck and farewell.

Taking Care Of Loose Skin After Weight Loss

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Thank you for your photo and congratulations on your weight loss! It takes a lot of determination and will power to lose 75 pounds.
Unfortunately, while exercise will tone and define your stomach muscles, no amount of exercise will tighten the loose skin of your lower abdomen. There aren't any creams or lotions that have been proven to be effective in tightening loose skin either. As for non-surgical procedures, Ultherapy has shown the most promise, but the improvement is limited compared to a surgical correction.
From your photo, it appears that a mini-tummy tuck would be your best option. You should have a consultation with an experienced plastic surgeon to confirm this.
Good luck!

Can I tighten my loose abdominal skin without surgery?

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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.

For a simple and illustrated explanation of tummy tuck and body contouring procedures, watch my video.

John J. Edney, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 133 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.