Monday, June 23, 2014

Revisiting loose skin and stretch marks (again)

I am a member of a very supportive weight loss board. It's the board I've come back to each time I've been on a weight loss journey since 1999. By now I'm an old pro at this weight loss thing. I've mostly figured myself out (though I do keep learning) but on these forums (and I'm sure others like them) people often come in with questions that repeat over and over again and I too asked those questions. I'm not knocking asking questions. Questioning is good, what I am knocking are the responses. At this point, the responses irk me beyond belief.

OK... what am I talking about here? I'm talking about loose skin. I'm adding the topic of stretch marks as it's a related thing that gets asked all the time on weight loss forums and pregnancy forums too.

So, the questions go like this: How can I prevent lose skin? Or, how long will it take for loose skin to shrink up? And, will I get loose skin with my weight loss? etc.  Stretch mark questions go, "How can I prevent stretch marks? How can I get my stretch marks to disappear? and so on.

Without a doubt creams to prevent stretch marks will be brought up and a SLEW of solutions of loose skin prevention will be brought up. Sure, some people will come on and be real, but usually more than half the responders will truly think you can prevent stretch marks and loose skin.

These things irk me because if you REALLLLLLLY could prevent stretch marks, don't you think we would all know what to do and no one would ever get stretch marks? Do you think there would be a mom anywhere with zebra stripes on her stomach if she could have prevented them? REALLY? If there were a cream that worked, that would be common knowledge, believe me!

Do you really think anyone who has ever lost weight would have to deal with loose skin if there was a secret to preventing it? Oh, I just need to lose slowly to prevent loose skin. OK. I'll do that. Oh, I just need to exercise and drink plenty of water. No sweat I can do that!

Reality is - we can't prevent it most of the time. AND, it's extremely individual because it's mostly genetics!

Sure, there are other things that come into play. Younger skin is more resilient skin, so maybe there would be less stretch marks and less loose skin. Sure, healthier people probably have healthier skin, so again, maybe it would be better in those cases, but even that boils down to genetics.

Maybe we all need to have "hope" that we won't get stretch marks and loose skin so that we don't fear the change as much, but it's also a slap in the face every time someone suggests that I could have prevented my stretch marks and loose skin.

With my first pregnancy, I was a health nut as I was carrying a precious child that I had wanted my whole life. I ate right. I exercised daily. I did everything by the book. Since I started out pregnancy overweight, I was told to not gain during pregnancy, and I didn't until the last week from water weight (both pregnancies actually). YET, I started getting stretch marks at 3.5 months when I was still losing weight!

My sister was pregnant at the same time. She started out her pregnancy at a good weight, but she gained 60 or so pounds with her pregnancy and she got one tiny stretch mark while I had so many stretch marks you couldn't even count them. No weight gain. Huge weight gain... I got the stretch marks!

Now, loose skin. I also have loose skin. I lost the weight properly - healthy diet. Exercise, lots of water... and loose skin. I have bat wings, wiggly inner thighs and a lower stomach flap. It probably won't tighten up because it hadn't started to in the year of "semi" maintenance I had. With this regain, I just filled up the loose skin again and now I'm defatting the skin again. It's my reality.

So please, no one tell me it's because I did it wrong.. because that's essentially what I'm being told when someone says it's a cream or a diet or exercise, etc. No... I didn't do it wrong. I just didn't inherit very elastic skin! PERIOD.

Saying reality isn't 'mean' either because reality of loose skin or stretch marks isn't the end of the world either. As my husband said about the stretch marks, "It's a small price to pay for having a child." And that's the truth and the right attitude. It was a very small price to pay! And, since more than 50% of women get them, I think we should "get over it."

Now, about loose skin. Again, I think our worry is bigger than the reality of what loose skin looks like. I think we get spooked because we've googled images of it or seen extreme examples of it on TV talk shows. We think of this when we think of loose skin:

Yes, it can look like this with a very big weigh loss and very unfortunate genetics. I'm not denying that the loose skin can be a big problem and I do empathize for those who have to deal with it or have to have surgery.

But, for most people, it will look more like this:

And it's not all about looks (I hope) it's about health. it's much better for the body to be dealing with some extra skin than it is to be dealing with extreme weight. AND, I think most people would agree that loose skin looks better than being obese too and of course it's healthier too.

When I was close to my thinnest, I had some loose skin for sure. I never took photos, but it looked a lot like this and that was with being 110 pounds below my top weight:

Sure, my body was imperfect, but it was healthy and definitely looked better than when I was obese. My husband would give a big head shake to that too.

Yes, it's not nice to think that we won't "turn out" looking like this 8 weeks after pregnancy:

Or this after weight loss:

But how many of us ever had bodies like a super model? (and Heidi had a trainer move into her house and put her on a super rigorous exercise and diet regime to get that body.) And I don't even think that model above did have a weight loss or if she did, she had plastic surgery (as I got this image from a plastic surgeons site).

So, stop worrying about stretch marks and loose skin. The worrying should have been BEFORE the weight gain as a preventative measure. Now? You are leaving it up to genetics and luck. Stop worrying and just start getting healthy and learn to love the body you have because it's the only one you'll get!


  1. I hardly even comment on those threads these days. Most people don't went to hear than even at 28 I have loads of loose skin and stretchmarks that no amount of diet or supplements has helped, because it is genetic. Entirely so. Youthful elasticity failed me from puberty onward.

    And then I'm always amazed someone is so vain as to think they're better off being fat and unhealthy than smaller, more healthy, and with some ripples easily camouflaged by clothing. Boggles my mind, that. But loose skin didn't make me less sexy to my husband, an extra hundred pounds and self loathing, on the other hand...

  2. I find I stay away from a lot of threads, but sometimes when someone comes on with such blatant misinformation I feel obligated to step in and say something because I don't want the only message to be a wrong one.

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  4. loose skin after pregnancyTo lost weight your skin spontaneously beautiful and smash.