How Does Losing Or Gaining Weight Affect the Skin?

weight loss affecting your skin

Updated 3/6/18. Like many women, I too am a yo-yo dieter. Unfortunately, more ups than downs. One thing I have personally noticed when I look in the mirror is that I have a few deeper lines on my face that weren’t noticeable previously. With weight loss and weight gain, the skin’s appearance will be affected, sometimes for the worse and sometimes for the better.

In this post, I’ll go into how your weight can play a part in your skin and share my expert tips to keep it looking and feeling its best.

How does weight loss affect my face?

The above photo is of me back in 2011 when I first joined a CrossFit gym. The after photo was a year later in 2012. I was ages 41-42 and even though it wasn’t massive weight loss, I definitely noticed changes in my face.

When you lose weight, what is mainly occurring is that you’re you losing the fat in the skin. When it comes to the face, this will decrease the plump look with your face. Essentially, the bed mattress in your skin has deflated a bit. While this process naturally happens as we age (most noticeable starting in the mid-40s due do a slow down of estrogen), lines and wrinkles appear deeper and the skin will be more flaccid (loose). A 10-20 pound weight loss will probably not make a huge difference in your facial appearance but anything over that can definitely show a loss of volume. Whenever I used to watch shows like The Biggest Loser, you can really see the dramatic change in the skin. A lot of people who have experienced extreme weight loss have to have the skin on their body surgically removed since it sags and hangs so much, so this confirms that point.

What can also be made more noticeable with losing weight in the face is the size of pores. Just like lines and wrinkles, pores are indents in the skin and without fat underneath filling them out, they sink further into the skin making them appear larger and deeper. (This also goes for chicken pox scars and indented acne scars.)

How does weight gain affect my face?

The exact opposite of what I described above. When gaining weight, you increase fat cells underneath the skin which gives a natural plumpness to fill out lines, wrinkles, and pores. Generally, people who carry extra pounds will look younger. People pay thousands of dollars to get fat injections in their skin to do exactly what your favorite foods will do. (As you can hear me explain in this video on Instagram!) I wrote a post showing how these two twin sisters aged differently. As you can see, weight can make an improvement.

How do frequent weight fluctuations affect my skin?

For those like me, who are up and down, it does have a negative effect on the skin which relates specifically to the elasticity of your skin. Similar to a rubber band, when the skin is stretched out regularly, it will bounce back. However, the frequent expansion and contraction of the skin over and over will take its toll on your skin’s elasticity which will encourage looser, less-firm skin. With frequent weight fluctuations, the “jowls” is the one area of the face that becomes most apparent. (Did you know that the elasticity of your capillaries and blood vessels can also weaken with age? Read tips to help capillary redness.)

How can I keep the elasticity strong in my skin if I lose and gain weight frequently?

  •  Keep as close to the same weight as possible. You’ll want to stay in a healthy range as recommended by your doctor.
  • Wearing sunscreen 365 days a year. One of the main contributors as to why the skin doesn’t bounce back when you lose weight is due to damage caused by daily daylight exposure. The easiest thing you can ever do that will make the biggest difference of all is to apply sunscreen faithfully to both the face and the neck every day. Recommended sunscreen: Daily Protection SPF 30 (Actress, Sofia Vergara uses this one every day because it’s so lightweight.) If you need convincing that sunscreen really works, look at this picture.
  • Use a vitamin C serum under your sunscreen daily. All experts agree. A serum with vitamin C is incredibly effective for keeping environmental damage to a minimum. You can see this experiment I did with an apple to see its effects!
  • Use a prescription retinoid or retinol serum at least three nights a week. Derived from vitamin A, retinol is probably one of the most tried-and-true ingredients for keeping the skin looking younger and smoother. Read my beginner’s guide to using retinol.
  • Use skin care products that promote a firming effect. We’ve come a long way with skin care formulas and I can assure you, well-formulated, high-quality products using what are known as peptides, can make an improvement in the quest for firming looking skin. They have the ability to target early wrinkles and strengthen the skin from the inside out. Recommended firming serum: Firm + Repair Overnight Serum
  • Limit your alcohol consumption. Yes. Alcohol takes a toll on the skin in more ways than one. Read how alcohol affects your skin.
  • Avoid smoking. I know this one seems obvious but smoking is just not good for any part of your body and I’m quite saddened that this harmful trend is coming back. (Whoever thought we’d start seeing cigarette ads in luxury magazines again?) Read how smoking affects your skin.
  • Consider dermal fillers if you want a plumper look. While this is more invasive and costly than eating your favorite ice cream to get a plumping effect, getting fillers from a trusted cosmetic dermatologist or skin care professional can certainly help. But make sure you read this first.

In summary, taking really good care of your skin and trying to keep your weight consistent is most beneficial but there are many things that can help.

Interested in learning more about how to care for your skin and which products are best to use? Schedule a virtual consultation with an esthetician or simply take this easy Skin Type Quiz.

Renée Rouleau

Celebrity Esthetician & Skincare Expert
As an esthetician trained in cosmetic chemistry, Renée Rouleau has spent 30 years researching skin, educating her audience, and building an award-winning line of products. Trusted by celebrities, editors, bloggers, and skincare obsessives around the globe, her vast real-world knowledge and constant research are why Marie Claire calls her “the most passionate skin practitioner we know.”