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The Connection Between Weight Fluctuations and Your Skin

Young woman in blue sitting on the sofa

When you look at before and after pictures in a weight loss ad, you may see a picture of someone holding up a pair of pants that look like they could fit about three of him or her as they are now. It is far less common to see After pictures of a person showing off their loose skin as proof of their weight loss. No one wants to think that their valiant weight loss efforts will have less than stellar results, yet sometimes they do. Here is why dramatic weight loss may leave you less than toned and what you can do about it.

Why Skin Stretches

The biggest factor in your skin’s maintaining its elasticity is how long you were overweight for. Regardless of how long it took you to shed the pounds, the longer skin was stretched for, the less likely it is to snap back.

According to Marie Jhin, MD, “It’s like a balloon. When you first blow up a balloon, it’s really small and tight.” You stretch it before inflating it, but it doesn’t return to its original shape when the air goes out.” It’s the same with skin. After it becomes stretched, it doesn’t always regain its firmness. Genetics and age can also be to blame. “Everyone starts to lose (elasticity) as they get older,” she says.

Problems

Besides its unattractive appearance, saggy skin has other disadvantages. For instance, rashes and yeast infections can develop in the folds of skin. Jhin explains, “Perspiration gets trapped, and you can get a rash. I recommend powder or cornstarch. It will help you absorb the moisture.” Other people prefer to use a little fabric to do the job. Compression garments may also help.

In addition to the rashes, loose skin can make getting in shape more difficult. New York city plastic surgeon Jennifer Capla, MD, says, “It changes your center of gravity. It’s harder to move.”

What Can You Do?

Unfortunately, there is no easy fix for saggy skin. Building muscle may help get some definition back, but Capla warns, “There’s no magic cream. It’s something that has to be dealt with surgically.”

However, only about 20% of weight loss surgery patients have body contouring done. A total body lift can cost $30,000 and, while health insurance may pick up the bill for a tummy tuck, as stomach folds may be detrimental to your health, the insurance companies might not be so generous when it comes to surgeries done for what it considers “cosmetic purposes.”

What Else Can You Do?

Susan Hawkins, of Atlanta accepts her saggy skin, saying, “my clothes do a remarkable job of hiding the aftermath.  ‘d take the excess skin any day (over obesity.) For me, it’s my badge of honor.”

For others however, the struggle is more difficult. New York City psychologist Alexis Conason says. “Many view excess skin as a reminder of their old life and associations with emotional issues they are struggling with then they were at higher weight, such as anxiety, depression, loneliness, and low self-esteem.”

However, after a weight loss of 140 pounds, Tanisha Shanee of Brooklyn, New York says, “There are challenges for one to accept with this journey. I had to relearn how to love my body and accept the new healthier one.

Where do you stand on all of this? Is surgery the way to go? Let’s hear what you have to say.

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Hormonal Changes Can Lead to Skin Changes

Pensive young woman resting her head on a log outdoors

You may be familiar with the expression, “kill the messenger.” However, when you take into account that the main function of hormones is to deliver messages, the expression takes on a whole new meaning. Hormones are chemical messengers in the body created in the endocrine glands. They control most bodily function, including reproduction, emotion, and mood. When they’re in proper balance, hormones can be very beneficial, but when they go out of whack, we do too, and sometimes that shows on our skin. Having a full understanding of how these hormones affect skin is key to finding solutions to hormone related changes. Read on to find out how these messengers operate and what you can do about it.

Estrogen

Estrogen affects the thickness of skin, moisture and wrinkle formation. The hormone can increase glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), such as hyaluronic acid to maintain structure of skin and balance of fluids. Estrogen boost s collagen production, allowing skin to remain plump, wrinkle-free and hydrated.

When hormone activity is elevated, as it is by the use of oral contraceptives and pregnancy, skin pigmentation in sun exposed area (like the forehead and cheeks) increases, resulting in a phenomenon known as melasma.

Female Menopause

When women transition into menopause, anti-inflammatory estrogens are lost, leading to increase inflammation. Female skin may become red and blotchy, and certain skin conditions, like rosacea, may result. The decrease of estrogen also means a lowering of collagen production, causing skin thinning, and loss of elasticity, leading to the formation of wrinkles. Estrogen loss also means the number of blood vessels in our skin is reduced, giving skin a pale wan appearance, and the GAGs in our skin, without regulation from estrogen, cause itchiness.

Thyroid Hormones

The thyroid hormones affect brain development, breathing, muscle strength, bone health, skin dryness, menstrual cycles, weight, and cholesterol levels. An overload of the hormone can cause skin to become warm and flushed. Too little can make skin dry, thick, and coarse, with a low level of perspiration.

What Can Be Done?

Hormonal replacement therapy is the latest possible solution to menopausal skin. Topical and oral steroid hormones have been shown to show improvements in  elasticity, skin thickness, and moisture. However, more work is needed to determine whether or not the treatment is fully beneficial.

Since collagen production is dramatically affected during hormonal loss, it is important to use collagen producing ingredients. Retinoids, Vitamin C, and peptides can all benefit hormone affected skin by controlling pigmentation, boosting collagen production, brightening skin, and increasing the production of GAGs. Oils such as Jasmine and Rosewood can provide hydration, while Carrot Seed, Rosehip, and Argan improve elasticity and support the lipid barrier of the skin.

Are you dealing with skin changes caused by hormones? Let us know how you’re handling it!