In the past, surgery probably was the only way to tighten loose belly skin. Today, there are many non-invasive procedures to choose from. But it’s not always easy to choose one that meets your requirement most. Also, it’s important to ask yourself whether treatment is really necessary since sometimes lifestyle measures are enough to deal with.
Loose belly skin may impact your self-esteem. It could be very frustrating since it’s hard to reverse. The bad news, there are many ways we can have the problem. Apart from aging process that can affect anyone, other factors can also a play a role make it more likely. These include weight loss /weight fluctuations, genetics, and even probably sun exposure.
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When you have excess abdominal fat for a long time, this could be strong enough to extend your belly skin. Unfortunately, it’s difficult for the skin to shrink back with weight loss. But building more abdominal muscle mass can help improve how it looks.
Abdominal exercise is safe for most people. But if you’re recently giving a birth, talk a doctor first to keep safe. Certain exercises and movements are probably not recommended if your loos belly skin associated with a recent pregnancy.
There are a number of exercises to help strengthen and ease loose belly skin. Here are a few examples.
- Side-bridge exercise. Lie on the side so the weight of your body rests on the forearm and elbow. Lift the central of your body with your abdominal muscles so the entire of your body makes a straight line from your feet to your torso, hold as long as possible.
- Air-bike exercise! Lie on the back. Use your hands to hold behind your head, bend forward with a 15-30 degree angle by bending your elbows — then move your left shoulder and your right knee so they meet each other. Do the same step for the other side, with 10-15 repetitions for each!
- Arm crunches. Lie on your back and bend your legs at a 90 degree angle to the floor. Lift your arms so they’re pointing toward the ceiling. Then curl your upper back and shoulder off the floor, hold for a few seconds, release slowly. Repeat this for 10-15 times.
While these exercises can specifically train your belly muscles, it’s also worth a try to combine with regular exercise of cardio and weight training for your overall health and best results.
Does diet have an effect?
This is a frequently asked question, but it’s not always easy to explain. However in general, your calorie count matters.
More calories you eat, higher than your body needs, are a nightmare for your abdominal fat control. More weight you gain will extend the skin more strongly, making your loose belly skin worse. A healthy-balanced diet is one of important pillars to keep your weight off.
Also, a few things in your diet might also promote firm and smooth belly skin;
- Keeping hydrated! It’s clear that the skin will become rough and less elastic when its outermost layer doesn’t get enough water. There is no conclusive evidence that drinking extra water carries an effect on skin appearance. But keeping hydrated is always vital for your body’s function, including your skin health .
- Protein and collagen! Your own body is naturally designed to make collagen on a regular basis, but this ability does decrease as we age. So eat variety of foods rich in protein (e.g. beans, nuts, fish, tofu, egg whites, and skinless chicken) for more collagen. Collagen, a kind of protein, is responsible to keep skin elastic and healthy. It may also play a role to help burn fat and build muscles since it contains an amino acid called glycine which is required in the synthesis of creatine .
- Avoid /restrict any bad things that can be your ‘excess belly fat’ triggers. For instance, high-processed and fried foods, they are not only high in calories but also high in trans-fats. The same is also true for sugary beverages, alcohol, and soda.
Burn more subcutaneous fat!
Subcutaneous fat in your belly is located just beneath the skin, specifically between your belly skin and the outer layer of your abdominal wall. It is most of your belly fat. There is also a term of abdominal fat called visceral or intra-abdominal fat, located beneath the firm abdominal wall which is out of your reach.
In general, visceral fat accounts about 10 percent of body fat. The remaining, about 90 %, is subcutaneous fat . Subcutaneous fat is not as harmful as visceral fat. But since this jiggly fat is closer to the skin, it’s usually the main target to burn when people are craving for looking skinny in their clothes.
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The same goes for loose belly skin, it’s also likely associated with subcutaneous fat. More pounds you gain for this fat in your belly, more likely for your belly to appear loose. Burning more that fat could help ease and firm the loose skin of your stomach.
Sometimes loose skin, even though without redundant skin, is difficult to improve with lifestyle measures. This is particularly true for extra fat and loose skin of your belly, which is often tough to control.
Here non-invasive skin tightening therapies may help. Although they don’t carry a magic improvement overnight, they’re more effective and faster to help tighten your loose skin than when you only rely on nutrient and exercise alone.
This FDA approved procedure uses focused ultrasound energy to induce more collagen production of the skin. It is probably most widely used name brand when it comes to non-invasive ultrasound skin tightening.
The ultrasound energy heats the skin to induce collagen so the skin becomes firmer after treatment. The waves of ultrasound energy are transmitted through a handled device, which heat the skin’s surface and penetrate at specific depths. This technology is safe, and has been used for decades.
But it’s not recommended for anyone, typically depending on your skin’s tone and firmness – though some providers say it works for all skin types. If you have a significant degree of sagging and loose belly skin, it probably is less effective. Creating more collagen is not enough for very loose skin.
There is no downtime, and the procedure only takes about 30-90 minutes per session. Some people may need more than one session. Cost depends on the large of treatment area. Side effects are usually mild; nothing more than mild redness, numbness, or bruising.
Non-surgical procedures with radiofrequency energy
Some popular brand treatments with radiofrequency technology are Thermage, THERMI RF, vShape, ThermiTight, and Exilis.
Radiofrequency technology for skin tightening is also aimed to stimulate more collagen production. But unlike in procedures with ultrasound energy that work on specific depths of the skin, it’s likely focused on epidermal layers of the skin to promote smoother and firmer skin appearance.
Most treatments with radiofrequency energy require no downtime, with only little to no discomfort. They are safe for most skin types. A series of therapies (about 2-6 treatments) are usually required for optimal results, this is usually dependent on your own treatment area profile.
Some procedures may provide permanent results. The results from ThermiTight, for example, could be permanent – though other factors can also affect this outlook.
Therapies with different non-invasive technologies
With slightly different technologies; brand treatments such as VelaShape and Refirme combine radiofrequency and intense pulsed light technologies to effectively heat deeper layers of the skin followed with natural healing response of the skin, which in turn more collagen production.
Along with additional features, pulsed vacuum and message rollers, they should be effective enough to work on mild to moderate loose belly skin. Although different technologies involved, they are still a gentle treatment with almost no downtime.
Skin tightening improvements appear gradually. More than one treatment is usually needed to acquire the desired results. How many treatments required is dependent on the large area(s) being treated and your skin’s condition. The average time for each treatment is about 45-90 minutes.
Emsculpt may help, too
While many belly skin tightening procedures are designed to target abdominal fat and boost more collagen production, Emsculpt is different. It can make your abdominal muscles to contract quickly without exercise — up to 20,000 times only in half-hour (30 minutes) — which in turn firms muscles and promotes a flat, tighter belly.
Although it doesn’t improve skin laxity, results could be permanent (though maintenance treatments along with moderate, regular exercise are required). Between contractions, the abdominal muscles are likely to increase in strength, mass and tone since there is almost no time to relax. The high, rapid muscle contraction also requires more energy, inducing abdominal fat reduction.
Each session is about 30 minutes. Multiple treatments, at least 4 sessions (spaced 2-3 days apart), are usually suggested to achieve desired results.
Nobody’s perfect, the same goes for non-invasive procedures for loose belly skin. They also have a few drawbacks, some are as follows:
- Still, it takes time to see skin tightening improvements. This varies, within weeks or months following therapy.
- Typically, more than one treatment is needed for optimal results. One treatment of some procedures is also costly. ThermiTight, for example, each treatment could be around $3,500 to $5,000!
- To maintain results in long term, treatment of some procedures would be repeated periodically.
- Most of non-invasive procedures are not effective for more advanced loose belly skin.
However, they are worth a try if going under the knife (surgery) is not your option. This is especially true if you don’t desire more dramatic body sculpting – and your loose belly skin doesn’t require more dramatic lifting & skin removal. In such case, when your loose skin is mild to moderate, you are probably good candidate for one or some of those non-invasive procedures.
On the other hand, cosmetic surgery is likely suggested if:
- You have more advanced loose belly skin so non-invasive procedures are less effective.
- You’re ready for the budget and risks since you expect more dramatic body sculpting.
- You prefer to choose a procedure only once than a series of treatments like most non-invasive procedures to get your final results.
- Your abs is already in good shape and appearance, but you’d like to enhance to the next level.
- Your specialist agrees that surgical procedures would work better than other treatment options to acquire your desired results.
Whether surgery or non-invasive procedures are best for your loose belly skin, consult with an experienced cosmetic specialist /surgeon. If possible, work with specialist certified by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery.
In addition, although most non-invasive skin tightening procedures carry fewer risks than surgery, this doesn’t mean they are safe for everyone. Some procedures are not recommended when you’re taking certain medications, being pregnant, or if you have certain health conditions . Ask a board-certified physician for more guidance!
Also, budget could be the major concern for some of us. Non-invasive procedures often require more than one treatment, so they are actually costly. Therefore it’s important to choose the right one.
Furthermore before investing in a non-invasive procedure, it’s recommended to wait for months or a year if you lose weight recently. This is important to see whether you’re already in your ‘permanent’ weight scale — or you regain all /some of your weight before trying any skin-tightening procedure.