Loose Skin vs Fat: How can you tell the difference?

Loose Skin vs Fat

Loose Skin vs Fat: Am I pinching skin or fat?

Firstly, we need to distinguish what the actual problem is.  Loose skin vs fat!  Is your concern actually loose skin or is it fat.  Maybe you have a stubborn area that is not responding to exercise or diet, could this be because it is actually loose skin?

All you need to do is simply pinch the area you are concerned about, for example, see if you can “pinch an inch” around your midsection.  Bear in mind that everyone develops a roll when they sit down.  If you do have more than an inch, you have basically pinched up the layer of subcutaneous fat that lies just underneath the skin.  You most likely have some fat to lose but you may have loose skin too, and until you lose the fat, the skin may not tighten as much as desired.  So, loose skin vs fat, how else can we know which it is?

Luckily, there are other ways of estimating how much body fat you’re carrying.

  • Measuring your waist circumference

    is specific to your midsection and can determine whether you are at risk from health problems due to excess abdominal fat.  A waist circumference of greater than 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men increases the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  Waist circumference measurement is an easy way to assess body fat levels around your waist. However, it can’t tell you your overall body fat percentage.

         Check out webmd.com for more details on waist measurement.

  • Skinfold measurements: Loose Skin vs Fat

    ​With the help of another person and a specialized set of calipers, the thickness of folds of skin can be measured at particular points on your body.  A personal trainer or other professional may help you get more accurate results.

Am I pinching skin or fat?

  • Online BMI calculator

    I will stress that this is not the most accurate way to measure body fat.  It basically compares your body weight to your height to determine whether your body fat is within a healthy range.  You can check your BMI here. BMI Chart

  • Body fat scales or smart scales

    These offer an easy way to monitor body composition at home. They work like traditional scales that measure weight but also include a foot-to-foot impedance meter.  Electrical currents are sent to the body and as muscle and fat respond differently to these currents, the scale is able to estimate fat and muscle mass. These may also not be the most accurate but can offer a general estimate of body fat percentage.  They can also be used in the comfort of your own home which is always a bonus.

Methods used in clinical settings can be more reliable than ones carried out at home.  A Dexa scan can highlight total body fat percentage, fat mass index and muscle mass.  These scans are the most accurate way to assess body fat measurements rather than simply calculating your BMI.

For more information on these scans check out bodyscanuk.com.  Or if you are in America you can have a look at healthline.com.

Once you have determined your body fat percentage you should determine a plan of action.  If you want to lose weight or build muscle have a read at this article on my website.  There are also resources such as a beginner’s treadmill workout and a strength workout plan available under the resources tab.  For this post, I am going to concentrate on loose skin and look at the options available to resolve this issue.

What Causes Loose Skin

Having loose skin around typical areas of the body like the stomach, legs, arms and face can be down to one of the following reasons;

  • Recent weight loss

Even though the skin is naturally elastic, one of the biggest causes of loose skin is rapid weight loss. When we put on weight, our skin has to stretch in order to accommodate the excess fat. If suddenly we lose all of that fat for whatever reason, our skin can be left loose afterwards. Depending on things like your age, skin and genetics, it can take time for skin to regain elasticity. And, in some cases, it can always look a little saggy.

  • Pregnancy

Having a baby causes the skin to stretch, more around the stomach, but also in other places such as the face, legs and buttocks.

  • Ageing

As we age, our skin sags. The reason is that our bodies produce less collagen as we get older. Collagen is a protein and a major building block of skin. It is what keeps our skin elastic.

How can I get rid of Loose skin?

There is no immediate way to get rid of loose skin without surgery or invasive methods, however there are alternative ways that can produce good results on less extreme cases.

  • Moisturisation – the battle of loose skin vs fat!

Firstly, and probably the easiest method is moisturisation which can help to make your skin more supple.  Look out for ranges that include collagen.

Loose Skin vs Fat                  Moisturising Cream                Skin Booster

Massaging your face and neck with a natural oils like olive oil will help tighten loose skin to keep it firm and smooth. Olive oil has antioxidants like vitamins A and E that have anti-aging properties. Slightly warm some extra-virgin olive oil in the palms of your hands and press it into the skin wherever you wanted added moisture and firmness.

  • Exercise

Secondly, it is very important to exercise regularly.  Even though it may have been exercise to begin with that contributed to the loose skin, it can actually reduce it as well.  Once your body has burnt off the excess fat it will start to develop muscle and it is this muscle mass that may help reduce the appearance of loose and sagging skin.  Start lifting those weights or even start with some body weight exercises, which can produce equally good results.  These exercises will focus completely on the muscle and the good thing is that you can target very specific problem areas.

  • Supplements

You will want to start improving your skin’s elasticity from the inside.  I love supplements, I totally believe in the benefits they provide and I believe that nowadays it is very hard to get all your nutritional requirements from our diet alone.  Unless you are extremely focused on what you eat, the majority of our food is over processed, containing too much salt and sugar.  It is always a good idea to invest in your health and one of the first signs of good health is good skin.  For more information on supplements and what they are click here.

Collagen

Collagen supplements are a great option, as we get older collagen starts to decline, resulting in sagging skin.  Studies have proven that supplementing with collagen peptides can help to increase skin elasticity in as little as eight weeks.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is also necessary for your body to produce collagen.  It has excellent antioxidant properties as it is able to fight free radicals to prevent cell damage and oxidative stress to the body.  The best way to get vitamin C is through citrus fruits and vegetables but you can always take a supplement as well to make sure you are getting enough.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is integral to good health and unfortunately the majority of people lack this vitamin.  Approximately up to 40% of the population is defficient in vitamin D.  It is important to supplement this vitamin especially during the winter months when sun exposure is at a minimum.  This will help with glowing skin and a healthy immune system.  It can also help skin conditions such as psoriasis.

Fish Oil

Fish Oil has extremely powerful anti-inflammatory properties.  It is high in omega-3 content and is great for your skin and can even help prevent skin acne and breakouts.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A can help with a multitude of skin issues such as acne and aging.  Retinol which is a derivative of vitamin A can help fight signs of aging when applied directly to the skin.

Vitamin E

Supplements

Vitamin E has been widely used in dermatology for over 50 years.  Research has shown that vitamin E has photoprotective properties that help keep the skin safe from sun damage, it has therefore been used as a key ingredient in skin care products for a long time.  There have also been studies to show that it promotes hair growth as well.

Multivitamins

Multivitamins can be very useful to make sure you are getting exposure to a wide range of micronutrients and minerals, including vitamins for skin repair, elasticity and dry skin.  If you are a vegan or vegetarian multivitmins are useful in order to support your diet.

 

Loose skin makes me look fat:  Are there more specialised treatments?

So in this battle of loose skin vs fat, lets take a look at more specialised or semi invasive treatments. You may want to consider these if your problem area is particularly stubborn.

  • Radio Frequency Skin Tightening

Radio Frequency can help you get tighter, younger looking and firmer skin whilst also reducing wrinkles.  It is an aesthetic technique that uses radio frequency (RF) energy to heat the skin in order to stimulate the production of collagen and elastin.  By doing so the appearance of fine lines and loose skin is reduced.  This procedure can provide an alternative to other cosmetic surgeries.

Radio Frequency Treatment : Loose skin vs fat

The most common use of Radio Frequency devices are to tighten loose sagging skin of the jowls, abdomen, thighs and arms.  They can also be used for wrinkle reduction, improving cellulite and contouring the body.
 
There are plenty of companies that manufacture RF devices but the ideal temperature in the
dermis in order to target sagging is 67°C.  Radiofrequency is a safe and clinically effective
technology to use at home. 
 
You should check that your device is CE marked (meaning it is tested and safe by European standards).  At-home devices work in the same way as in-clinic treatments, in that they stimulate collagen production within the skin in oredr to lift and tighten it.  If you get radio-frequency treatment in a salon you’ll find at-home devices are not as hot as those treatments, though you will feel some warmth when using them.
 

 

  • At Home Radio Frequency Devices will help tighten loose skin!

 
For an at-home tool to work, you need to use a conductive gel, you can pick a decent bottle up for $5 on Amazon. The gel allows the device to move smoothly over the treatment area and acts as a conductive medium allowing the waves to pass through the skin layers.
The Sensica Sensilift Radio Frequency device aims to improve improve your skin texture for more radiant skin with visible results in just 5-minutes a week. It states that you will notice the difference from the very first use.
RF Home DeviceRF Home Device
 
There are many other radio frequency devices and brands available, including the Newa, the Orlaya Skin Dermadeep and the Tripollar Desire.  All ranging from $150 to several hundred dollars.

 

  • Microneedling or Collagen Induction Therapy

Microneedling is another cosmetic procedure that involves pricking the skin with tiny sterilized needles. The small wounds caused by the needles cause your body to make more collagen and elastin. When your skin heals it looks younger.

Microneedle radiofrequency has also been FDA approved for cellulite reduction.  The addition of radiofrequency energy to the microneedling procedure helps to further stimulate the body’s natural collagen revealing even firmer, rejuvenated skin.  Some studies have shown that microneedling is able to treat hair loss as well.

Microneedling                         Loose skin on face

  • Mesotherapy amazing for loose skin!

Mesotherapy is a technique that uses injections of vitamins, enzymes and hormones to rejuvenate and tighten skin, as well as removing excess fat. Miachel Pistor, a french doctor developed this technique in 1952 when it was originally used to treat pain.  It is now a popular treatment worldwide especially in the United States.

You can use Mesotherapy to:

  • remove fat in specific areas like the stomach, thighs, buttocks, legs, arms, and face
  • reduce cellulite
  • fade wrinkles and lines
  • tighten loose skin
  • recontour the body
  • treat alopecia, a condition that causes hair loss Mesotherapy

Mesotherapy uses very fine needles to deliver a series of injections into the middle layer of the skin. Many different solutions can be used including;

  • prescription medicines like antibiotics
  • hormones such thyroxin
  • enzymes like collagenase and hyaluronidase
  • vitamins and minerals and herbal extracts
  • PRP

PRP (Platelet-rich plasma) is a treatment that involves a small amount of blood being drawn from the body before being processed in a centrifuge. This  separates the platelet-rich plasma in the blood.  It is an autologous procedure meaning that it is “from your own body”.  The plasma is processed again after this in the centrifuge to seperate a protein liquid, which is then injected intradermally to treat scars or joint pain and can be applied topically after collagen induction treatments.  PRP treatment is often used to treat osteoarthritis and joint degeneration as well.

PRP contains several different growth factors and other cytokines that can stimulate healing of soft tissue. It has become popular in dermatology for the treatment of androgenic alopecia, healing wounds and skin conditions.

PRP Treatment                           PRP Centrifuge : Loose skin vs fat

  • HIFU

HIFU (High Intensity Focuesd Ultrasound) uses focused ultrasound energy to target the layers of skin just below the surface. The ultrasound energy causes the tissue to heat up rapidly.  Once the cells reach a certain temperature they experience damage. This will then stimulate them to produce more collagen, which provides more structure to the skin.  The increase in collagen leads to tighter, firmer skin.  The ultrasound focuses on a particular area below the skin’s surface. Therefore it does not cause damage to the upper layers of the skin.

How to avoid having excess loose skin in the first place

Ultimately, the best way to avoid getting lots of areas of loose skin is to avoid shedding large amounts of weight in one go. If weight loss is gradual instead of over just a few weeks, you’ll give your skin more time to spring back to its original shape.  If you are thinking about losing weight, but keen to avoid getting loose skin, a dietician or nutritionist should be able to help you work out a way to slowly lose weight while staying healthy.  Loose skin vs fat will be much less of a concern.

Finally, keep hydrated!  Drinking plenty of water not only keeps your body healthy but your skin as well.  Keeping your skin hydrated will help to keep it firm. As your body flushes out toxins, it will push them out of your skin also.

Water is great for your skin

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