August 16, 2010

Excess Skin

I've been asked to elaborate a bit about  my experience with excess skin - this is something that anyone who loses a lot of weight needs to consider, although some folks end up looking pretty good due to a combination of youth, good genetics and/or good luck. Although exercise can provide some muscle definition to fill out the excess skin somewhat, this skin, particularly if it has stretch marks etc., doesn't really go away, though it may tighten up somewhat. I still have close to 50 pounds to lose before I get to goal, so the degree to which this bothers me may change a lot before I am done with this process; here is what I am thinking now, with just under 65% of my excess weight lost...

Overall: I think I look very good in clothing - although there is some loose skin under my arms and some wrinkles where my double chin used to be, neither of these is horrible and I feel confident wearing sleeveless tops and dresses. I'm not the mini-skirt type anyway, so knee-length dresses and skirts are as short as I want to wear and I think I look fine in them. I might even get daring and wear slightly shorter skirts in fall and winter - when I am also wearing opaque tights.

Stomach: My stomach has shrunk a lot, but there is still a very fatty flap that hangs low down and seems to be pretty persistent. It has a lot of stretch marks and damaged skin from pregnancy and weight gain over the years. Supportive undergarments (i.e. Spanx) do a good job of pulling this in a bit so that clothes fit better and look more flattering, but I have to say, I don't think it very likely that I'll be donning a bikini any time soon. This pannus does not overhang enough to cause problems, such as rashes, skin infections, etc., which are an issue for some folks post-op. I am very wary of undergoing the risk and expense of any surgery that doesn't make a very big difference to my health or quality of life, so I probably won't pursue a tummy tuck, although I'm not completely opposed to the concept.

Thighs: I do really dislike the appearance of my upper thighs - very saggy, baggy, and wrinkly, although the overall size/circumference of my thighs is shrinking a lot due to my workouts. I still feel a little uncomfortable in shorts and tend to wear crop or capri - length workout pants, and to wear full length or crop length trousers for everyday wear if I am not wearing a skirt or dress. The picture of me in a bathing suit yesterday happened to be particularly flattering; here is a more true-to-life photo of my upper thighs:

There are surgical procedures to tighten up the skin on the inner/upper thighs, but they sound pretty horrible to me, so I think I'll just live with what I end up with. (and continue to worship at the altar of supportive undergarments!)

Breasts: I think I have lost some volume, but in a good bra they're fine. (I do need a "Sheepdog Bra" - rounds 'em up and points 'em in the right direction!!)

Back: Still have some sagging of back fat, but I think this will continue to reduce a bit as I keep up with my workouts. I was dismayed to see "side boobs" when I first started losing weight, but these are shrinking and I just don't look at 'em, so they don't bother me much! The previously mentioned good bra does a great job of camouflaging a lot of the back and side flab.

I know that this really isn't all that bad ... I mean, I'd rather have the sagging than the fat ...  but it's not all that pretty either. I think what I have come to terms with is this:  Even if I do achieve a normal or even a thin body size, this is a 45 year old body that just is not going to look like it would at the same weight if I were 25 (and if I had never been overweight). I'm just grateful that I am able to feel attractive and reasonably well-proportioned in clothes and, most of all, that I feel so much healthier and stronger.

I actually wasn't all that distressed at my appearance when I was heavy, and I think I have usually had a realistic mental picture of my size and my appearance - so even though I can't say I love all of the changes to my skin texture etc., I really am not all that bothered either, although obviously it bugs me a bit because I keep mentioning it! I think I am mourning, a bit, for that young woman I used to be who didn't get to enjoy a strong, fit, beautiful body in her 20's and early 30's. I also have been reading fashion magazines more frequently as I approach normal sizes, and I suppose I am as susceptible as anyone else to the implicit messages in these magazines regarding a very narrow definition of beauty, the need to be thinner, more youthful, more athletic, better groomed, better dressed etc etc etc... It really is an impossible standard, especially without a personal airbrusher and photoshop wizard!

I'll update here as things change with my appearance and/or my feelings about it!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for all the info, I really appreciate it. My feeling is (as a post-op VSG patient) very similar to yours; I'd rather have saggy skin than be 100+ overweight.