What the plastic surgeon told me about loose skin...

<sorry if this is posted in the wrong section--couldn't figure out best place to put it>

I had asked a question here awhile back about determining when you've lost weight and the only thing left is skin. Most people responded that skin is very thin, so if there is any thickness to the skin, you still have fat to lose.

I have been obese my whole adult life, so not knowing what weight is best for me I was using the BMI chart. I know that thing is hated and unreliable, but I had nothing else to go by to make a goal. For my height (5'8" F) I should weigh 122-164 according to the chart. I have a large frame and I am 51 so I decided to use the 164 as my goal, then re-evaluate.

So I lost 135 lbs over two years and got to 164 lbs (basically on 1200 calories for the last year of that). I also do weight training 6 days/week, and some sort of cardio 7 days. E.g. this past week I ran 10 miles total (up from 10 consecutive steps a year ago). But I still have handfuls of flesh both at my gut and butt/thigh area--not thin skin. So I figured I wasn't done losing fat. My TDEE is somewhere around 2100 calories, so I decided to up my calories to about 1500 (cause I'm tired of living on 1200 and I felt I must surely be getting close, so this would be a slower deficit). I couldn't lose at all on that. I went back down to 1200, lost a few pounds, back to 1500 and it all came back (I know this is probably water flucutations) but basically, it felt like I had hit a wall--something had changed. Plus everyone and their mother was telling me to stop losing because my face/neck/collarbone/rib area looks thin (and very bony). Only I could see all that extra flesh I tuck into my pants every morning.

I went to see a plastic surgeon about the possibility of a body lift (skin removal of stomach and hips). While there I asked him how much more he thought I should/could lose. He checked me out in several places and said--None, there is no extra fat on you at all. (Music to my ears!) I asked, but what about these handfuls of flesh at gut and butt--this is more than skin. He said, no that is almost all skin. There is some subcutaneous fat, but it isn't loseable. He also said if I try to continue losing that it won't be fat I'm losing, I won't be able to maintain it, and I will start to look anorexic. This explains the brick wall I hit.

So I brought up the BMI chart--I am mostly maintaining now at 165--"overweight", yet he says I have no extra fat on me. He said I need to take into account my skin--and he estimates I am carrying about 8 lbs of unnecessary skin, plus I have more muscular development than average (and who knows how to count that...), so that would be put me well into the normal range, and he even thinks I'm on the thin side.

SO the take home lesson here that I wanted to share, is that skin isn't necessarily as thin as people indicated for those of us who lost a lot--I think because I lost 135 lbs a lot of skin has contracted together making it a good deal thicker than, say, arm skin.

Just having a consult with a plastic surgeon was extremely helpful--regardless of whether I go through with the procedure or not--he really was able to explain things to me about my fat and skin and adjust my expectations. I highly recommend it!


  • Lucy1752
    Lucy1752 Posts: 499 Member
    That's really interesting. Thanks for the info!
  • nowine4me
    nowine4me Posts: 3,985 Member
    That is an amazing accomplishment and I appreciate you sharing what you learned. You should be proud. My stats are similar at 5-7" and 52. I'm at 145 and could probably stand to lose 10#. Will make the call on a lift/tuck once I get there. Please keep us posted!
  • xX_PhoenixRising_Xx
    xX_PhoenixRising_Xx Posts: 626 Member
    edited September 2017
    That's really interesting, and thank you for sharing! I lost 155 lbs and weighed 172 lbs at 5'7. My BMI was around 27, I had excess skin/fat on my stomach and thighs as well, yet I could see every one of my ribs through my skin. In US sizes I was a 4 - 6. I was also really active, running and lifting weights. My doctor told me to stop losing weight as I looked anorexic, despite what my weight on the scales was. He reckoned that I had some extra weight in loose skin, but I always wondered because it wasn't paper thin and it seemed like there was fat underneath. It wouldn't budge though!

    I maintained in the low 170s for 2 years and then I had to go on medication that caused some weight gain. I'm now losing what I gained, but I've decided that once I get back to where I was, I'm happy. And I don't give a damn what the scales say.
  • Orphia
    Orphia Posts: 7,097 Member
    This is an insightful thread, and supports what I've been suspecting! Thank you very much!