In the beginning of a weight loss journey, many patients think they’ll lose 40 pounds and look like Cindy Crawford. They fantasize about hitting the beach in the smallest bikini they can find to show off their new body and celebrate all of their hard work. One thing that weight loss patients are sometimes unprepared for, however, is that they still may need to deal with body image issues after weight loss. One such issue is excess skin after weight loss.
Dieters who lose significant weight often deal with loose, sagging skin — a remnant of what their bodies used to look like in the past. Sagging skin happens because even though fat cells shrink when the weight is lost, the body still retains the same surface area. The new void under the larger surface area creates a layer of skin that may “hang” because there is less tissue underneath taking up space.
In addition to the detrimental mental and psychological effects, this may cause — shame, embarrassment, depression, and or anger — excess skin can also put some people at risk for rashes, infections, and even immobility. For some patients, once the weight is lost, the journey is not over — but that does not mean the goal is unobtainable.
For many formerly obese and overweight people, learning to love one’s body remains a lifelong pursuit with many challenges along the way. If you have patients currently dealing with the problem of excess skin, here are three things you can say and do for them that can help motivate them to continue in the journey:
- “YOU DID IT!” Remind your patients of how far they have come, how much weight they have lost, and how many goals they have achieved. Remind them that they achieved tremendous success and did something that so many people struggle to do. In addition to being at a healthy weight, they have most likely also decreased their risk for comorbid conditions that threaten their ability to live a long, healthy life. Celebrate with them, and don’t let this challenge overshadow what they have overcome!
- Provide referrals. Know what resources (both medical and cosmetic) are out there to help patients deal with issues like excess skin. There are many resources available to help your patients work to minimize or get rid of excess skin, from weight training programs to help build muscle mass and tighten the skin, to more involved solutions like cosmetic surgery. Have a resource list of your area available. If you need help developing one, contact us about how some of our complimentary business support services might be able to support.
- Focus on maintenance. Losing weight was hard, but for many, keeping the weight off can be just as tricky. Many dieters find themselves on a weight loss rollercoaster, continually losing weight and gaining it back. Don’t let the excess skin sidetrack your patients from maintaining their well-deserved progress. Having a maintenance program is essential to your patients’ continued weight loss success in the long-term. Download our exclusive, free staff training kit, “Added Value Maintenance,” that walks your staff through some critical elements of the Maintenance Phase of weight loss.
For providers who want to help their formerly obese and overweight patients maintain weight loss, the S.T.A.R. Maintenance Plan is one of many complementary programs and services available to Robard customers. Learn more about how to start a program at your center.