Updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 07:37 pm

When you look in the mirror and see that extra jiggle around your abdomen, it’s very difficult to tell if it’s caused by fat or loose skin. It is important to realize that you are not alone in this situation! Every day, hundreds and thousands of people all over the world look in the mirror and think the exact same thing.

Once you know how to differentiate between fat and loose skin, you can work on getting your body exactly the way you want it to look! So, stop fretting and read on to find out how to tell the difference between fat and excess skin!

What is loose skin? – Excess skin

The complicated factor involved in distinguishing between excess skin and fat is that you will experience loose skin when you lose weight.image of loose skin vs fat - Extra Large Living

The skin has different layers with different cell types. The epidermis, the outer layer of the skin, constantly loses and replaces skin cells. The dermis and the hypodermis layers contain fibers, elastic connective tissues, blood vessels, and other components that contract or stretch depending on how they are treated.

With rapid weight loss, the elastic components in the skin, including elastin, lose their elasticity and cannot adapt to your new smaller body shape, creating loose skin.

Women who have recently given birth are also prone to experiencing loose skin as their bodies change rapidly. For this reason, it is always important to ensure that you are losing weight in a gradual and safe way. Doing this is much healthier and your skin will have sufficient time to adjust to the weight changes, thus reducing the risk of loose skin.

It is important to try and prevent getting extra skin after weight loss because you cannot fix it at home. It requires consulting with a plastic surgeon to perform a body contouring procedure to remove the excess skin.

What is fat?

Fat deposits are found underneath the skin all over your body. You can burn off fat by doing cardio exercise. This comes in many forms such as running, swimming, cycling and HIIT.

This excess layer of fat can be bad for your health as it increases the risk of heart problems. This fat is usually what encourages people to start exercising, to burn off the excess belly fat and to become healthier! To create an effective weight loss routine, it’s important to ask yourself, Why am I gaining belly fat?

The answer will guide you on your diet and workouts. When you start to lose fat, it is hard to tell whether you have more work to do or if you simply have sagging skin due to the change in weight.

Similarities between loose skin and fat

Loose skin and fat look very similar. All loose skin that forms is in similar places to where you would expect to see fat because it is caused by weight loss. Usually this happens when the skin can’t adjust to the change as quickly as the change is happening.

Both loose skin and fat aren’t desirable things to have, however, it is important to remember to put your health first in these situations. Having loose skin is not the end of the world and there are things you can do if you really want to change it. At the top of the list of things to do is try to lose weight in a healthy manner.

Differences between loose skin and fat

Loose skin is the skin that couldn’t adjust after you lost weight drastically or you gave birth. Fat is the excess subcutaneous fat that is under the skin all over the body.

A great test to help you identify if you are dealing with excess skin or fat is pinching the skin. If you can, it is more likely to hold loose skin, whereas fat is difficult to hold onto. This is explored further below.

Another key difference between loose skin and fat is that you can lose some of your fat by doing cardio exercises, but you can’t reduce your loose skin in this way.

The pinch test

image of differences between loose skin and fat - Extra Large LivingOne great way to tell the difference between fat and loose skin is to perform the pinch test. All you have to do is pinch the skin on your belly to find out which one it is.

If it is loose skin, you will be able to pinch the skin and pull it outwards. It won’t be tight to your body, instead it’ll be very loose.

When you pinch fat, you won’t be able to get much of it between your fingers as it is tighter to the skin and forms a thick layer underneath the skin. Also, you will find that you can’t bring your fingers closer together, whereas when you pinch your loose skin, you will be able to bring your fingers very close together.

To double check this, you can always pinch some skin on the back of your hand or somewhere else on your body to compare. If you pinch the skin and there’s more than a couple of millimeters of skin, there’s some adipose fat tissue you need to lose.

What to do about my excess skin?

Excess skin after losing weight through lifestyle changes or bariatric surgery can be fixed using cosmetic surgeries, including tummy tucks, arm lifts, and panniculectomy. These procedures can eliminate excess and saggy skin and improve your comfort, appearance, and clothing fit.

With that said, loose skin is a common problem and you shouldn’t feel too much pressure to get rid of it. However, if your skin causes discomfort, pain or chaffing during physical activity, you should wear compression garments. Wearing a compression garment will help prevent small tissue tears.

What to do about my fat?

To get rid of subcutaneous body fat, you should burn more calories daily through exercise and strength training. Combine your physical activity with a calorie deficit diet for the best results.

Unfortunately for some people a healthy diet in conjunction with high intensity activities doesn’t give them their perfect body. In some areas of the body, it’s harder to lose fat than in others; loose skin develops. For such people, cosmetic surgery like body sculpting comes in handy. Body sculpting helps to reshape the body by eliminating excess fat, skin tightening, and contouring the body.

Some surgical body contouring procedures include:

  • Facelifts
  • Tummy tuck surgery which targets fat or loose skin over abdominal muscles
  • Liposuction

Non-surgical body contouring (lipolysis) include:

  • Laser lipolysis which destroys fat cells
  • Radiofrequency lipolysis
  • Injection lipolysis
  • Cryolipolysis uses cold temperature to destroy fat cells

Before the surgical procedures, you should:

  • Stop smoking – smoking reduces blood flow to healthy skin and increases recovery time.
  • Avoid some medication – you might have to stop taking herbal supplements, inflammatory drugs, and aspirin which increase bleeding
  • Maintain stable weight – you’ll need to maintain a healthy weight for 12 months before getting a tummy tuck. If you are overweight, you’ll have to achieve your ideal weight prior to the procedure.

The plastic surgeon will also discuss your medical history including allergies, previous major surgery and health condition before the procedure. Also be sure to do a lot of research before selecting surgery and find out things like what weight loss with liposuction means.

Final thoughts

It is very difficult to tell the difference between loose skin and fat. After reading this you should have a thorough understanding of the differences and how to tell them apart. You should also have an understanding of what to do about both loose skin and fat.

If you feel you need plastic surgery to help to get tighter skin, you should consult with a cosmetic surgeon to know your treatment options. For more information and other articles, be sure to look at Extra Large Living.