Weight Loss

How To Tell The Difference Between Fat And Loose Skin

Loose skin is something we all have to deal with after a weight loss journey. It is a painful part of life and tedious if I do say so myself. When you lose weight, you will be faced with some loose skin, even if it is just a little bit. 

But, how do you know if this loose skin is exactly that or if it is some sneaky fat trying to disguise itself as skin? 

There are a few ways to tell. Simply because the properties of skin and fat are very different. 

How To Tell The Difference Between Fat And Loose Skin

Neither of these is really great, especially if you are feeling body conscious, however, if you are on a journey to find, what you want to be, being able to tell the difference between these two is absolutely imperative. 

So, how do you know? 

How To Tell The Difference Between Fat And Loose Skin

The first way to tell the difference is with something called the ‘pinch test. The idea of this is that skin is so much thinner than fat, which is totally true. 

If you pinch the area which is concerning you, it should give away whether you are dealing with fat or with skin. 

If there are a millimeter or a few between your fingers it is likely to skin, however, if there are more than a few millimeters, it is likely fat. That being said, just because it may be fat, does not mean there is no skin that will need to be lost as well! 

What Does Loose Skin Look Like?

Loose skin does have one dead giveaway. It tends to sag in a way fat does not. When you are faced with fat, the skin is usually quite uniform, it will have a clear, bulbous, or even stretched look. 

However, loose skin does not look this way, it will usually sag, it will often have creases and folds in it, and of course, wrinkles. 

Skin is flexible, to a point, however, once stretched out significantly due to weight gain or pregnancy, it takes a lot, or at least a lot of time for it to lose the wrinkles and marks from the previous stretching.

Does Loose Skin Affect Body Fat Percentage?

Not really, but, have you ever thought ‘loose skin makes me look fat, this is totally understandable, and it could make you look like you have fat where you do not. However, what I know you are really thinking about is if it affects your health. 

Aka. Does it affect your body fat percentage?  No, loose skin is not really a matter of BMI. Skin is not considered your body fat, because it is not fat. Sure, it could be that way because of previous body fat, but it is not fat itself. 

How Do You Know If It’s Fat Or Loose Skin?

Here are some things to consider:

  • The pinch test. 
  • The look of the area: wrinkles vs uniformity.
  • Check for sagging.

Your skin will be thinner and will have wrinkled sagging if it is loose skin, but it will be thicker and unwrinkled sagging if it is fat.

What Does Loose Skin Feel Like?

People who suffer from excess loose skin tend to say it feels like an open wound that won’t heal. Loose skin usually hangs down like an apron after a huge weight loss and can be incredibly painful. 

Of course, the amount of loose skin will dictate how it hangs and how much it hurts. This is usually why many people who lose a lot of weight will go on to have surgery to remove the excess skin, due to the immense pain.

How Long Does Loose Skin Take To Tighten?

Skin is a living organ, it is living and will usually tighten over time. However, it does depend on the amount of skin and how to lose it is. 

Generally, it can take a few weeks to a few months, or in some more serious scenarios, years. For example, loose skin as a result of pregnancy will usually tighten up in a few months or weeks. However, from weight loss surgery and 100lbs(s) weight loss, it may take years, or surgery may be required.

Is It Loose Skin Or Fat After Weight loss?

How To Tell The Difference Between Fat And Loose Skin

Immediately after weight loss, a vast amount of your loose-looking skin will just be additional subcutaneous body fat that is covered with skin. 

Even if you have hit your ideal weight, there may still be some of this lingering.

Is Loose Skin Permanent?

For a small to medium amount of weight loss, the skin should tighten and retract itself. However, for more significant weight loss, you may need assistance from a medical professional to tighten or rid of loose skin from your body.

What Exercise tightens Loose Skin?

Here are a few exercises that can help you to tighten loose skin, especially around the midriff area. 

  • Sit-ups. 
  • Crunches.
  • Plank. 

You should tailor your workouts to the areas that you want to tighten. Abs-based workouts work well for midriff skin, but if you have it around your arms, try arm-based workouts, or even weight lifting. 


Early Signs Of Loose Skin

If you have been overweight for a while, then your skin will be looser when you lose weight due to the loss of collagen and elastin in your skin. 

Also, consider how much weight will be lost. Weight in excess of 10lbs will usually result in a larger amount of loose skin.

Does Loose Skin Go Away After Weight Loss?

weight loss inches

Losing weight will give you sagging skin, especially if you lose weight fast. Depending on the amount of weight lost, and how long the skin was ‘stretched’ for, your skin may tighten, or may not. 

Is It Possible To Tighten Loose Skin?

Loose skin can be helped with bariatric surgery, radiofrequency treatments, collagen, and more. 

How Do You Avoid Saggy Skin When Losing Weight?

Always look to eat a balanced diet, stay hydrated, build muscle, and lose weight slowly to avoid sagging skin as much as possible. 

Can You Lose 100 Pounds Without Loose Skin?

No, 100 lb weight loss will always result in sagging skin. However, you can minimize it by drinking water and trying to lose weight more by building up muscles.


There are ways to identify whether the area you are worried about is loose skin or fat. So, at least you can identify the issue. Now, if you are concerned about your loose skin, you can do surgery and get it tightened up, but that should only ever be your last point of action.

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