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Loose skin can result rapidly or over the long term.
Siri Stafford/Lifesize/Getty Images
Stretched skin can result from various issues such as aging, pregnancy, weight loss or lifestyle choices. The efficacy of working out to tighten stretched skin depends upon what caused the skin to stretch, where the stretched skin is located on your body, and how much elasticity your skin has retained.
There are No Quick Fixes
Procedures such as Botox and face lifts are what usually come to mind when considering loose skin in the neck and facial areas. That said, there are increasing numbers of people who advocate the use of facial exercise to tighten wrinkles and loose jowls. Some anecdotal, but limited empirical, evidence suggests certain facial exercises can make the skin more taut. There are myriad books and programs that tout the benefits of facial exercises. Some include before and after pictures, sworn testimonials and various proof of effectiveness. It's difficult to determine the veracity of their claims. They could be the result of the exercise or they could be enhanced by surgical and cosmetic procedures. Until more definitive clinical research has been published, the viability of facial exercises is inconclusive.
Before Considering Surgical Procedures
Age, disease and genetics are factors but, in general, the more rapid your weight loss occurs, the more difficult it is for skin to regain its elasticity. For example, if stretched skin is the result of the rapid weight loss that follows laparoscopic bariatric surgery then exercise may not be able to completely tighten the excess skin. In such instances, surgical procedures may be the only option. Regardless, building muscle can reduce the appearance the of stretched skin in certain cases. In conjunction with exercise it's essential to hydrate regularly and eat properly. The elasticity in your skin largely depends upon substances called elastin and collagen. They can both be obtained from eating lean proteins in foods such as meat, beans, fish, legumes and dairy. The degree of effectiveness will vary on a case-by-case basis, but loose skin in areas such as the core and extremities can benefit from exercise.
A Primary Demographic
Women are often concerned about weight loss and the stretched skin that often accompanies it post pregnancy. It's highly beneficial to adhere to nutritional and exercise guidelines throughout the pregnancy. Doing so will help preserve skin elasticity, reduce the amount of weight gained and decrease the amount of stretching the skin will experience. In addition, the skin will more likely conform to the muscle gained through exercise. Tailor your workouts accordingly. If you're working out to reduce stretched skin post pregnancy, you should follow a regular exercise regimen at least three times a week. Exercises such as pushups, planks, Mason twists, v-ups and chinups are highly effective at targeting core muscles.
Progress Slowly and Steadily
Progress should be charted on a weekly basis. It's a gradual process. Your skin didn't likely stretch over a rapid period of time and exercise won't tighten loose skin overnight. No matter what caused the skin to become loose, it will take time, consistency and effort to see results.