Body Lift Surgery
A body lift is a surgical procedure that reshapes, lifts, and tightens the abdomen, thighs, buttocks and/or breasts by removing excess skin, fatty tissue, and cellulite. A lower body lift, also known as a belt lipectomy, circumferential tummy tuck, or circumferential abdominoplasty, shapes the abdomen, thighs, buttocks and back; while an upper body lift focuses on the breasts, chest and middle back. These two body lifts can be combined, but are usually done in two stages, for a total body lift.
WHO ARE CANDIDATES FOR A BODY LIFT?
Body lifts are often performed on people who have experienced a significant weight loss or had bariatric surgery, such as Lap Band or gastric bypass. A body lift can also help women who have given birth to contour their bodies back to pre-pregnancy shape, and older people who would like to improve the appearance of sagging or flabby skin.
Good candidates for body lift surgery are those who have maintained a stable weight for three months to a year, and who have healthy exercise and dietary programs. People who have had bariatric surgery are advised to wait at least one year before body lift surgery. For women who plan to have children, it is often advised to postpone body lifts until after childbearing.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING A BODY LIFT SURGERY?
A body lift is performed in our accredited surgical center. The surgery is done under general anesthesia, and the procedure time ranges from four to eight hours.
A lower body lift involves a belt-like incision above the outer thighs and buttocks, with possible further separation of the outer thigh skin to help with the lateral thigh lifting. Excess skin is removed and the underlying tissue is reshaped; the area is then sutured and the surgeon moves on to abdominoplasty, or tummy tuck. This involves a horizontal incision along the pubic area and around the navel. Abdominal skin is loosened from the underlying tissue, excess skin and tissue is removed, and the stomach muscles are tightened. Liposuction may also be performed during the tummy tuck, to remove additional fat deposits. The skin is then repositioned and sutured.
An upper body lift involves an incision made at the bra line, from which excess skin and fat are removed. The same type of incision and removal is done at the back and waist areas. The incision is then closed with sutures, while tightening the skin under the breasts and over the upper abdominal area. This is often combined with a breast reduction or breast lift procedure.
WHAT CAN I EXPECT AFTER THE PROCEDURE?
Drainage tubes are inserted during a body lift, to remove excess blood and other fluids and to help reduce swelling. These tubes require personal home care for up to two weeks, with strict adherence to doctor’s care instructions. Surgical dressings are generally removed two days after surgery, at which time showering is allowed. A medical compression garment may be worn for several days or weeks after the procedure, depending on doctor’s orders.
Post-surgery activities are usually postponed until the patient has recovered, including exercise and the lifting of more than five pounds. Walking, however, is encouraged after a body lift to reduce the risk of blood clots. For most patients, they can return to normal activities after four to six weeks, and can resume an exercise program after six to eight weeks. Full recovery happens for most patients within three months, when results are fully visible.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS OF A BODY LIFT?
The most common complications of this surgery are small skin separations, and seromas (fluid accumulation underneath the skin). Other risks include reduced sensation in the treated area (which can be permanent), infection, bleeding and blood clots. Scarring is generally very visible in the first weeks or months, and may take up to 18 months to lighten and become less visible, although they will be permanent.