Body Lift Surgery After Weight Loss

A body lift is possibly the most extensive surgery in all of cosmetic medicine. This body contouring procedure has become more common—or to be more precise, more commonly needed—both because of the increase in incidence of obesity and the rapid growth in popularity of bariatric surgery such as gastric bypass and lap banding surgery.

People who have put on weight around their middle and lower body and then lost it, either through dieting or surgery, are often left with large amounts of sagging, excess skin. Some people also have poor skin elasticity and gravity and age have taken a toll on their figures, leaving them with skin and subcutaneous tissue that can hang in folds.

If you have loose, redundant skin on your abdomen, torso, and buttocks, as well as on your upper thighs, a body lift surgery may be able to help you.

A body lift is sometimes called a belt lipectomy or a circumferential lipectomy, and occasionally the words dermolipectomy or dermatolipectomy are also used. Lipectomy basically means surgical excision of fat and dermolipectomy means surgical excision of skin and fat.

What Plastic Surgery Procedures Are Included in a Body Lift?

The body lift procedure is actually a combination or extension into each other of an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck), a buttock lift, and an outer thigh lift. An abdominoplasty removes loose skin from the abdomen, a buttock lift removes loose skin and tissue from the buttocks and lifts them, and an outer thigh lift removes excess skin and raises the outer and upper thighs.

A body lift should not be viewed as a way to lose weight or remove a lot of body fat. The procedure usually will remove some fat, but you should be at or near your ideal weight before considering a body lift. You should also be at a stable weight. Losing more weight after a body lift would leave you with additional loose skin, and being in the process of losing a lot of weight is a strain on the body and can interfere with good healing.

If you have good skin tone and elasticity you can consider having liposuction done on the areas where you have some deposits of fat. However, if you don't have good skin elasticity, liposuction could leave you with more excess, drooping skin and you might benefit more from a lift procedure. A body lift can be combined with some liposuction, however.

Are You a Candidate for a Body Lift?

If you are considering a body lift, you must be in good health. Your surgeon may ask you to have a physical with your general physician before you have a body lift.

You should also have a realistic idea of what the surgery can do for you. Your surgeon will show you before-and-after photos of people who have had a circumferential lipectomy, but there is no guarantee that your results will match theirs.

Because a body lift can be a very involved surgery, you may need to stay overnight or longer in the hospital. If you live alone, you may need to have someone help you around the house and stay with your overnight for a few days after you get home. A body lift will also have a long and involved recovery period. You will be sore and uncomfortable and may have some difficulty moving around for a few days.

How a Body Lift Is Done

Essentially, the surgeon will remove a band of skin and, depending on your needs, fat or other subcutaneous tissue in a circle around your body. The incision will run over the hips, down in a curve over the abdomen at a level that would be hidden by underwear or a bathing suit bottom, and across the back at about where the curve of the buttocks meets the lower back.

The width of the band of tissue being removed around your body will depend on the amount of correction needed and on how much redundant skin there is. This band may also be wider over the abdomen than over the buttocks or vice versa, again depending on your needs.

The surgeon will then suture the deep tissue in the area being treated to help form the new contours of the body and to help hold the tissues in their new position. He or she will then close the skin incision around the body with sutures, staples, or surgical trips.

A body lift can be done under either sedation or general anesthesia. Your surgeon will discuss the choice of anesthesia with you.

The procedure can be performed in a surgical suite in a surgeon's office, in a freestanding surgical center, or in a hospital. You may go home the same day as your surgery or may need to stay overnight.

There are several serious risks to this surgery, including very prominent scarring. The incisions for a body lift are extensive and you must have realistic expectations before undergoing this form of surgery.

This has not yet been rated.Log in to rate