I am currently becoming more interested in this topic and have began to research a little bit about it, so here's my first two cents so far...
I caught an episode of Big Medicine, the show Marie mentioned a little while back. It is a documentary type show about gastric by-pass surgery and the subsequent plastic surgery after the weight loss dealing with loose skin. I am glad that I watched it. It certainly helped me gain even more perspective into the loose skin aspect of weight loss.
Those of us that have a lot of weight to lose always worry about the possibility of being left with loose skin. Everyone has their "theories" about what does or doesn't cause it, how to try to minimize it, or the fact that there maybe nothing you can do during the weight loss process to prevent it. There is the "age" factor of the person and the "genetics" component (which to me, is just a cop out for the unexplainable). We are recommended to exercise regularly, drink tons of water, hope our skin is "elastic" enough and cross our fingers.
My highest weight was 298lbs. Any person weighing 298 lbs has a valid concern about the consequence of loose skin. I lost 28lbs 2 years before starting Weight Watchers in a healthy way through Dr. Phil's 7 Keys to Weight loss freedom putting me at 270lbs. This was not a rapid weight loss situation, it was a healthy 2lbs per week. I was 24 years old then. 28lbs is an acheivement, but basically a drop in the bucket for me and not enough at my weight to cause concern for any loose skin affects.
I began the journey with WW on February 21, 2006 at 270lbs to lose 100 lbs. I exercised regularly for the first 3 months and was 30lbs into the weight loss until May 21, 2006 when I was in a serious car accident causing serious injuries which has prevented any meaningful exercise. I have now just began to transition from physiotherapy back to the gym. Despite the no exercise, WW still worked and I continued to lose consistantly (yay WW!). I am now extremely close to my original WW goal of 170 lbs (this is effectively, for this discussion purpose, 128 lbs lost).
I have since decided to drop my goal to 150lbs (at this goal, it will be 148 lbs!). From where I stand now, I am in a better position to evaluate my body and the consequences of loose skin. I do have some loose skin. It is not nearly as bad as it could be and I believe that is because it was not "rapid" weight loss. It is still hard to tell what can still be improved through exercise and muscle toning, but the fact is, you simply cannot walk away from 150 lbs of weight lost without the traces of the body that once was.
But here's the main point I am trying to get to: The young girl, Lauren, on that first episode of Big Medicine was, if I remember correctly, started at around 300 lbs. She underwent gastric bypass surgery and was 140lbs at the time of her tummy tuck, arm lift and breast lift surgery. I cannot emphasize how drastic her loose skin was. She was very young, about 20 max, so the age factor in the loose skin debate has nothing on rapid weight loss. They described her has having the body of an old lady at her age. The one thing they did NOT emphasize or even mention for that matter on this episode was how painful the recovery would have been for the plastic surgery that she had. They only showed the great positive affect it had on her life. I am sure that is true, but seriously! She was only 20 and was gastric bypass surgery seriously her only option to losing the weight? I mean, I do get it, weight loss is damn hard and it takes a long time - or at least it should - and I believe it is a matter of getting yourself educated about food and getting your head in the right place to commit to the healthy lifestyle that is condusive to healthy weight loss.
I just thought this was an interesting bit of insight into this side of weight loss since I am now frowning at my wings, hidden belly button and droopy thighs. The extent is nothing compared to what this young girl experienced. Mine is livable, if I so decide. Hers really wasn't and there is no way she could have seriously spent the rest of her life happily without the plastic surgery. I can't help but believe that her sagging skin could have been for the most part minimized.