HCG Diet & Loose Skin

Human chorionic gonadotropin, or HCG, is a hormone naturally produced during pregnancy. People on the HCG diet typically receive HCG injections or take HCG supplements. The HCG diet severely restricts calories to roughly 500 calories a day. That's only 25 percent of the approximately 2,000 calories the average adult requires each day, according to the Mayo Clinic website. Rapid weight loss that can occur on the HCG diet and other weight loss plans can have negative effects on the skin.

Weight loss clinics may offer medical supervison of HCG diets, notes the Mayo Clinic website. (Image: Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images)

History

The HCG weight loss diet first gained recognition in the 1950s, according to Harvard Health Publications. British physician, Dr. Albert T. Simeons, claimed the regime would burn more fat than muscle and remove fat from stubborn areas such as the hips, thighs and stomach. Simeons claimed that patients who followed the HCG weight loss program lost up to 30 lb. in 40 days without feeling deprived or irritable.

Significance

The average HCG dieter typically sheds 1 to 2 lb. a day or more than 30 lb. in a month, reports the website HCGDietInfo. Skin may act like an overstretched rubber band and fail to retract and tighten following a substantial weight loss, reports the University of Minnesota Physicians. Skin tends to lose elasticity when it's been stretched for an extended period of time. As a result, excess skin appears loose and saggy.

Effects

People who have lost 100 lb. or more may end up with substantial amounts of heavy, excess skin on the face and around the chest, buttocks, abdomen, arms and thighs, reports the Cleveland Clinic. The degree of droopiness can vary depending on your age, quality of skin and the number of pounds shed.

Potential Concerns

Inordinate amounts of sagging skin can produce folds in the inner thighs and lower abdominal region, according to the University of Minnesota Physicians. Creases in the skin are prone to moisture and can also create hygiene challenges that may lead to infections and rashes.

People who remain on a very low calorie diet such as the HCG diet for four to 16 weeks may experience side effects including diarrhea, constipation, fatigue or nausea, reports the Weight Control Information Network. These temporary adverse reactions don't normally interfere with completion of the weight loss program.

Prevention/Solution

Antioxidant-rich foods such as carrots, spinach, tomatoes, blueberries, salmon and nuts appear to have a protective effect for the skin. However, the Cleveland Clinic points out there is no way to simply "tone up" large amounts of loose skin and it must be surgically removed through a procedure called body-countering.

Liposuction may be considered in some cases to tighten loose skin following rapid weight loss. Laser rejuvenation may modestly tighten loose facial skin, notes the American Academy of Dermatology. A face lift will typically have more dramatically and longer lasting results.

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