Thursday, January 18, 2007

Post-Weight Loss Loose Skin Hanging Around

Two years after losing 180 pounds, my loose skin still haunts me

Speaking of Adro Sarnelli who won "The Biggest Loser Australia" last year, did you see this article about him and the struggle he has had dealing with all the excess, loose skin on his body following his 130-pound weight loss?

I previously blogged about his decision to have an abdominoplasty done, better known as a "tummy tuck." But now he wants to get rid of the rest of his hanging skin at an eye-popping cost of $20,000 plus recovery time off from work.

Here's why Adro decided to do this:

"It was just really disappointing to think that I lost [all that weight] and that I still had the same body that I had when I was fat," he said. "I'm actually left with a whole lot of extra skin which, in my own mind, it sort of leaves me unfinished. I have man boobs and that's something I really hate and would love to get rid of. I also have a really saggy apron area around my tummy."

So with the help of a plastic surgeon and many hours of body sculpting which includes not just a tummy tuck but also a buttock lift, a thigh lift, as well as skin removal from his chest, back, and arms, Adro will soon have a body that will LOOK like that fabulous weight loss success that he was in 2006. Everyone else has seen how good he looks, so now it's time for him to see it for himself.

The payoff was when he got to look at himself in the mirror for the first time after having "heaps" of his loose skin removed for good.

"I actually got to stand up and have a shower so I looked in the mirror and I was actually able to look down," Adro proudly exclaimed.

Now he says he feels "unreal" on the inside and out.

I couldn't be happier for Adro because I know EXACTLY how he feels. I'm right there in the same predicament, too. It's been over two years now since I lost the majority of my 190 pounds and my loose skin problem hasn't gotten any better as everyone claimed it would if you would "just give it some time." In fact, it looks like the problem has gotten even worse! MUCH WORSE!

Many of my new readers who have discovered my blog in the past few weeks have e-mailed me asking about whether I have loose skin and want to know what I am doing to handle it. In fact, here's one of those e-mails:

Dear Jimmy,

I thought I would send you an email regarding weight loss and the dreaded loose skin afterwards. After skin removal surgery, people seem to be very happy with the results. Have you had this surgery? Is loose skin really inevitable when you are very overweight? How do you limit loose skin? Does losing too fast encourage loose skin?

I'd love to know if you have ever written a blog about it. It's very discouraging losing all that weight only to be left with a whole lot of skin and where you have to stay covered up.

Well, as a matter of fact I HAVE blogged about this subject before--SEVERAL times actually. Here are a just a handful of those posts for you to check out:

- "Indiana Reporter Left Hanging After Weight Loss, Too"
- "Dealing With Excess, Loose Skin After Weight Loss"
- "Is There Loose Skin After Atkins Weight Loss?"

So many of you have e-mailed me with your support and well wishes that I can do something about my hanging, loose skin after reading about me blog about it and in the final chapter of my book. You have encouraged me to not get discouraged or ever give up on my dream of getting the skin removal surgery done and I haven't. I KNOW it's gonna happen one of these days.

Let me just say one thing that absolutely needs to be heard loud and clear to anyone who is overweight or obese and is worried about having loose skin afterwards. Don't let this issue stop you from making the best decision of your life to lose weight and get healthy. Sure, the loose skin can be an eyesore, but it's a whole heckuva lot better than the enormous pain of being fat. There's just no comparison!

I really don't know why this issue gets people so worked up about losing weight, but it does. Some of the most popular Google searches people who are desiring weight loss put into the search engine is "loose skin after weight loss" or "how do you firm up excess skin." I'm fascinated that people worry about such things when they should be focused on getting their physical health in order first.

At the same time, if I get one more person sending me this link to check out, then I think I'll have to run in front of an 18-wheeler on the interstate! Just for the record, I don't believe much of what this guy has to say, so don't bother telling me about it okay. With all due respect, I certainly acknowledge that there is a possibility that what I think is loose skin may be excess fat that I need to lose, but I don't care at this point. I just want the skin GONE!

I'm still eating low-carb since this has become my permanent way of life and my body fat percentage has continued to drop down from over half when I used to weigh 410 pounds. I've even made reducing my body fat one of my goals for 2007. Nevertheless, now that I'm 220 pounds, I want to LOOK like I am 220 pounds. The fact is I don't like what I see every single time I look in that mirror.

Wanna see what I'm talking about for yourself? I'll warn you, it's pretty disgusting to look at and you would probably think I was showing you a picture of a fat man's body. But, no, this is me.

Shirtless on the beach looking like THIS? Not a chance!

Can you see what I'm facing here? It's incredibly frustrating because as much as I want to truly celebrate my enormous weight loss success, I can't jump for joy when I still look and feel like I'm obese! I often joke with my wife Christine playfully jiggling my former 62-inch waist that has now shrunk down to a 38-inch waist in front of her like some circus freak show. But I don't feel sexy for her and I so much in my heart want to.

It's not just my stomach, though. Look at what's "hanging" from my inner thighs. EWWWW!

There's so much skin in my thighs that they get rubbed raw

When I asked my doctor to take a look at this loose skin issue in my stomach and inner thighs, he told me quite bluntly (which I appreciated!) that the elasticity is too far gone at this point to firm up and tighten from my very large weight loss. He wrote a letter to my insurance company, but they refused to pay for it. The only remedy at this point is to live with it or get the surgery done at my own expense.

Those are my ONLY choices at this point. For now, I'll just have to learn to live with it and move on with my life (which I have). But if ever there was a dream that you wished would come true for you, that's how I feel about getting this surgery. I'm hopeful it will happen to give me that "closure" Adro was talking about.

As for those questions my reader had about the loose skin issue, here's what I think about each one of them:

Have you had this surgery?

No, but I desperately want to.

Is loose skin really inevitable when you are very overweight?

I don't think it's necessarily inevitable just because you are overweight or obese. But if you are like me and the other yo-yo dieters who have gone up and down expanding and contracting the skin so many times, I do think there is a point of no return where it is impossible to expect the skin to be firm short of surgery.

How do you limit loose skin?

Don't get fat to begin with! LOL! I know, that's probably too late for most people, but it's true. That'll DEFINITELY keep it from happening, though.

Does losing too fast encourage loose skin?

Some people have the thought that losing slower will somehow keep the skin from getting loose. But Kimmer from the Kimkins diet, who had a tummy tuck and bosom lift following her 200-pound low-carb weight loss, said in her interview with me that stretch marks are emergency skin and no matter how fast or slow you lose, the "skin isn't going anywhere" and that "losing slowly is no advantage."

She added, "It's exactly like having a skin tight skirt, adding a 2" panel of fabric and expecting the extra fabric to disappear the next time you wash the skirt. Just ain't happening!" I agree with Kimmer because the skin has nowhere else to go but droop down. :(

So now it's January 2007, three years after I began the most lifechanging experience of my entire life. It's like writing an entire book from start to finish, but then not having it published. You have done all that work and maybe even shared it with those around you. But you won't feel right until it is finished and ready for the public to see.

That's how I feel about my loose skin. I've poured many days, weeks, and months into becoming who am I am today these past few years. I'm very proud of what I have been able to do and appreciate all the compliments and adoration that has been given to me. But it's time to send this book to be published and that means getting the excess skin removed.

It won't be today, probably not tomorrow either. But it will happen.

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Blogger Lowcarb_dave said...


We've heard from you, Kimmer & Adro, that you all think it doesn't matter how fast you loose, you'll hav ethe same skin.

But we haven't heard from anyone who has done it the slow way.

Is there anyone who has gone the slow way and would like to comment?

I think the mileage varies. People are different and they all loose weight differently.

You are taller than Adro etc, so you have loose skin, but it's loose in different ways. Adro had a man-boob issue, you not so much.

I think there are too many variables to make a one rule that works for everyone.

Just my thoughts.

1/18/2007 10:16 PM  
Blogger Cindy said...

I'm right with you Jimmy!! I still have about 45 pounds to loose, but have already lost over 50 and can already see the loose skin.

My upper arms, "bat wings", are so bad I'll never feel comfortable wearing sleeveless shirts. I still have a belly, but I can already see it hanging (and I really didn't have a big belly!)...and my thighs!! oh man!

I've done the slow loss, I've deliberately increased my carbs to slow and even stop loss in an attempt to prevent the hanging skin. I've done the exercising, and the weight lifting, and the moisturizing....and still when I get to goal I know I'm going to have a lot of excess skin.

Personally I think it's a lot of factors. I'm 52 yrs old and have been overweight pretty much since my mid-20's. I'm in menopause, so my skin isn't as elastic and is much drier than when I was young. And, I also think all those years of eating wrong is a big factor also!!

Hope you can get the surgery you want and there any chance you can get help from your insurance (do you have insurance!!)?

1/19/2007 12:58 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

Dave, I agree it's gonna be different with everyone, but clearly my issue is severe.

THANKS for sharing your story, Cindy. Yes, I DO have health insurance, and they do not pay for this surgery unless you have sores as a result of the skin. I do not.

As you know, I workout all the time, so I can't imagine doing much more exercise to firm it up than I am right now.

It's all just very discouraging.

1/19/2007 11:04 AM  
Blogger Sweet Tart said...

I know that you're a regular exerciser, but did you know that your body adjusts to whatever exercise you're doing after as little as 4 workouts? You need to keep changing what you're doing and challenging your body to see improvements. Interval cardio (on different machines, don't always use the same one) and heavy weight lifting using compound movements (squats & deadlifts at the core of your program) and changing every 4-6 weeks may help make a difference in the way your body looks until you get the surgery. I highly recommend The New Rules of Lifting (you can get it at the library) as a great starter book. I've seen great improvements in my major problem area (butt) since I made these changes to my exercise program.

1/19/2007 11:39 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

THANKS for the advice, Sweet Tart! I do change up my workouts between the elliptical and treadmill quite often. I like the elliptical better, but I've mixed it up anyway.

One area I could stand to do more work on is my weight lifting. I've not been as consistent in this as I know I should be and I'm working on that. THANKS for sharing that book with me. I may have to check it out!

1/19/2007 11:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I lost 100 pounds doing sort of low carb (CAD), I didn't have lose skin. I attribute it to strength training as well as cardio. Lost it at a rate of 1.5 -2 pounds a week, and I was in my 40s. I had stretch marks on my tons of thin, fair, Northern European skin, too.

I don't think it's the speed of losing as much as the lack of resistance training, or the overbalance of catabolic cardio.

Kimmer did not exercise, she had some contraindications for that; and Jimmy did cardio only; and I don't follow the biggest loser but don't they do simply hours and hours of cardio to burn the fat? that doesn't leave much recovery for great muscle growth or retention.

1/19/2007 8:58 PM  
Blogger melinda said...

I totally know how you feel Jimmy. I just got over a 167 pound weight loss and here I am with a body I am down right embarrassed of. Where can you find someone to do a full body lift for 20 grand? I hear it all the time, but when I go to consultations it's about 35K. Maybe I'm just THAT bad off. It's discouraging.

1/09/2008 10:10 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

Hang in there, Melinda! One of these days we'll get it taken care of. CONGRATULATIONS on your weight loss!!! :D

1/09/2008 10:52 PM  
Blogger Kyle said...

Hey Jimmy, I've currently lost 126 pounds from the age of early 18 to late 19 and I've only experienced loose skin in my stomach and chest region. While my thigh, legs, arms, and everywhere else is perfect. I wondered why that was and I believe since most of my weight I lost was from bike riding and a low calorie diet it's because I never really had any excercise that would cause me to lose weight in my stomach or chest. So the loose skin is there and only there. It's been a year since I've lost any extreme amount of weight and not much has changed. But since new years, I've been dieting again and I'm seeing results. I'll give you a better report of it when I progress. But I believe I will lost my loose skin if I get down to a very, very, low weight. I'm currently at 170 and I was originally 296. I'm also 6'2.

1/29/2008 2:38 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

THANKS for sharing Kyle. CONGRATS on your weight loss and in your efforts to tighten up that skin, but you have an advantage over me--your youth! I'm 36 now and the skin's elasticity is pretty much shot from years of gain, lose, gain, lose. I wish you well as you keep going lower and lower, but don't be disappointed if the loose skin persists.

1/29/2008 9:35 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

I too lost weight and had Hanging skin on the Abdomen. I went to Bangkok, Thailand to the Bumrungrad Hospital to have it removed for $4,400. When I woke up I was 22 pounds lighter. The Doctor actually had the Fat in a plastic grocery bag on the counter next to the bed. After 2 days, I was able to leave and sightsee in Thailand. With the promise I would be back in 10 days for a follow up. I no longer have sagging skin around my abdomen.

3/12/2008 11:25 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

Interesting Michael! I've heard about reduced-cost options like this and will certainly consider it. :)

3/12/2008 11:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyone is being very supportive of your weight loss, but dude you are still very very overweight and borderline obese. You lost a lot of weight, but 220 pounds is not a lean weight unless you're a body builder or athlere. Jesus, you've still got a good 70 pounds of pure fat to lose in order to be considered "normal".

It's seriously not "loose" skin, it's just heaps of fat that you haven't lost yet because you basically starved your body with an improper diet while not doing enough exercise.

I guarantee your body would look worlds better had you hit the weight room and tread mill six days a week and not subscribed to a fad diet that goes against nature itself. Face the facts: You lose weight too quickly while NOT exercising enough. That is not loose skin, that is fat that is backed up by emaciated muscle mass.

Don't believe me if you want, but I know what I'm saying. Your got about 60% if the way to your goal and then you stopped, thinking 220 pounds was your ideal body weight, and you neglected your body composition of muscle: fat ratio. You have no muscle and tons of fat, that's why your body looks so bad. Sure, surgery can fix this, but dedication and a gym membership will fix it as well. And before you go on saying "Well, I do work out, I do have a gym membership, etc", have you considered you just aren't working hard enough?

Again, congrats on the weight loss, but you need to stop making excuses and face your own issue: get more dedicated to exercise and ditch the unhealthy fad diet. The human body needs carbs to fuel all of our organs, which includes the skin (the largest organ) and brain.

7/09/2008 1:00 AM  
Anonymous Melinda said...

Alright this just pisses me off. I can't believe how people can down someones success. Jimmy came ages and achieved something most people only dream about.

No matter what diet you use to achieve weight loss, you can end up with lose skin. It's just a matter of fact. I get tired of hearing people spout off about how working out harder at the gym can just 'take care' of the extra.

I've lost 175 pounds by calorie counting and exercise (no I did not follow the low carb diet) and I am plagued with lose skin. I am 24 years old, and NO I am not still over weight. If I lost any more weight, people would assume I was anorexic. I am 5'5 and 120 pounds. Slabs of skin are on my stomach, arms, legs, thighs.. heck my breasts could use some serious help. Was it because I didn't "try" hard enough, or that I did something wrong? Um.. no.. it's not.

So stop bagging on people. I just get mad that other people are assholes. Sorry Jimmy. And congrats on all your weight loss. You're amazing.

7/09/2008 10:43 PM  
Anonymous Andy said...

Melinda, you need to chill out. Anonymous is only trying to help, although it may sound a bit harsh. The bottom line is that jimmy does have some lose skin, but at the same time he is NOT fit enough. And no i'm not talking about AVG fitness, he needs to be pro athlete fit to see legit changes (which everyone can attain with commitment and hard work and dedication). If he built more muscle, and i am talking about a lot of muscle, he wouldnt look so bad. Luckly, it is not to late to commit to doing this. I can gaurantee his body fat % is still somewhere in the 20% range, when he needs it to be down to 12% or lower. If you commit to a body building regiment you can help fill up that some of that lose skin. You are simply not muscular enough at the momment and need to start adding A TON of muscle. I am totally sympathetic to your situation and am happy you lost all that fat! BUT you are not done with your transformation and it WILL not be easy to finish this last 25% of it. BUT IT IS POSSIBLE. Body building takes years, but look at how big their arms, legs, and trunks are!!!! that type of muscle gain is going to fill out your skin. Many people think it is too difficult to commit to this and just opt for surgery, but this way you can save all that money and DO IT YOURSELF! Start researching online how to start, you can do it man! Body transformations can take 10 years to complete, don't give up yet.

12/25/2008 5:11 PM  
Anonymous Melinda said...

Andy, it doesn't sound to me live Jimmy has given up at all. He's accepting his body as being a body, a healthier body at that. Who in their right mind would dedicate 10 years of their life to "fill out their trunk" to the size of disgusting. :) I'm not one that likes the body building type.

For all you know, under that skin Jimmy has achieved a 6 pack abs. You can't tell, and you just don't know it. I still applaud Jimmy for sharing his story and coming as far as he did. It's not like he set out to become your ideal of what is healthy.

Loose skin SUCKS and trust me on that one. I've been through a year of maintaining my own body, but I have come to terms with this is how I am, this is me in a healthier state. It's not healthy to go from one extreme to the next. "fat guy gets ripped!" is not a headline you see.

You see those guys on Biggest Loser? They drop TONS of weight and work out over 3 hours a day. 1 hour strength training, 2 hours cardio, eating extremely low calorie diets. But you never take your eyes off the scale. They are plagued with lose skin too! That is why they have them covered in tshirts. Look at the women and you can actually see a gurdle line against their tight dresses during the finale. On the males, they tuck in their shirt and skin can be seen. Un-tucked and a jump was shown on this past season, and you see LOOSE SKIN.

So Andy, all I'm saying is who wants to dedicate their lives to 'build' muscle on their bodies in such a mass amount as you are saying? I sure the hell don't. I'm sure Jimmy sure the hell doesn't either.

12/29/2008 12:28 PM  

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