Pregnancy can bring lots of changes to your skin. Most of them disappear after delivery, but sometimes there’s loose skin left behind. Skin is made of collagen and elastin, so it expands with weight gain. Once stretched, skin may have trouble returning to its original shape.
Loose skin can be emotionally frustrating for women who want their bodies to go back to how they were before pregnancy. But it’s important to remember that this can take time.
Your body just did an amazing thing by giving birth, so try to go easy on yourself.
Here are some things you can do to help firm up loose skin.
Cardio exercise can help burn fat and tone your muscles. Try brisk walking, swimming, jogging, or riding a bike.
Before beginning a new routine, ask your doctor if it’s okay to start being active again. Start slowly and work your way up to more intense activities.
Regular exercise can help prevent or minimize excess skin.
Eating healthy proteins and fats can help you build muscle. Protein can also contain collagen. Your individual protein needs vary by how much exercise you do as well as your height and weight. You might also need more protein if you are breastfeeding.
Add strength-training workouts to shape and tone the muscles. Building muscle tone may also have a positive effect on loose skin.
Situps and pushups are go-to gut busters, but Pilates, yoga, and barre classes include moves — like planks — that force you to tighten your core, hip, and glute muscles for extended periods of time. This improves muscle tone, helping to tighten and lengthen you out.
If you’re taking a class or working with a trainer, let the instructor know that you recently gave birth. There may be certain moves you need to avoid.
Water helps hydrate the skin and make it more elastic. Your body is more efficient with more water, too. It can burn fat more easily and reduce water retention in your belly.
Some plant-based oils may help skin to repair itself. This might be due to their antioxidant content and anti-inflammatory properties. For example,
Essential oils are diluted in carrier oils, which have their own benefits for skin health. Try rubbing carrier oils, like jojoba oil or coconut oil along the tummy line to help tighten the skin. You might add a few drops of an essential oil such as frankincense or neroli.
Spa wraps might work for a special occasion. They can help with skin firming, but only temporarily. You might see powdered kelp, sea salt, or clay in a spa wrap. These help detoxify, soften, and tighten the skin.
Abdominoplasty, or tummy tuck surgery, is an option to tighten muscles and remove excess skin. But it’s not a substitute for losing weight or an exercise program.
During the surgical procedure, doctors will cut into the abdomen to remove extra skin. The remaining skin will be stitched together and a new opening for the belly button might be created as well.
The average cost of a tummy tuck is $6,253, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). That doesn’t include anesthesia, operating room facilities, or other related expenses. While most health insurance doesn’t cover this surgery, many plastic surgeons offer patients financing plans.
If you do elect surgery, the ASPS recommends finding a board-certified plastic surgeon in your area. Make sure you feel comfortable with them and ask for referrals.
Pregnancy changes your body in several ways. As your belly grows, the skin needs to expand. After giving birth, many women may have loose skin on their stomach.
If you’re feeling self-conscious about it, there are some at-home remedies that may help tighten it again. Depending on how much skin is left over, you can also opt for elective surgery to remove the excess.