A body lift refers to the excision of skin and fat all the way around the abdomen, flanks (or love handles) and lower back to tighten the abdomen, outer thighs, and buttocks. The body lift essentially includes an abdominoplasty, lateral thigh lift and buttock lift. It is most often performed in a single stage, but can be broken down into more than one surgery when appropriate for the patient.
Most patients who have a body lift have lost massive weight, often from bariatric surgery. Body contouring after weight loss includes a body lift as well as a brachioplasty, breast lift, and inner thigh lifts.
Liposuction removes fat only. In some cases after fat is removed through liposuction, the skin can tighten and conform around the new contour. The degree of tightening depends on several factors such as genetics, one’s age, and the elastic properties of the skin that can be altered through diet, smoking, and weight loss. In men and women who have loose skin, liposuction will be of limited benefit. First, there is often insufficient fat to remove after weight loss, and second, the skin contractile properties have been weakened.
The incisions for body lift surgery will be circumferential around the waist, flanks or outer, lower thigh, and lower back. Generally they will be placed low enough to be hidden with shorts. There will also be an incision around the belly button. Body lift surgery is often combined with inner thigh lift surgery, mastopexy, and brachioplasty, which leaves additional scars in the groin or inner thigh, breasts, and inner arm.
Like any surgery, there are risks and complications that may occur even in the most skilled hands and healthiest patients. To reduce such risks, it is advised that patients have their surgery performed by a board certified plastic surgeon and get a complete physical exam by their primary care doctor to ensure they are healthy enough for the surgery.
Because body lift surgery is a long operation, many precautions will be taken before, during, and after surgery to reduce the chances of blood clot formation. Antibiotics will be given to reduce infection risk. Labs will be drawn and reviewed to ensure electrolytes are normal in those who have lost weight recently, and proteins levels will be checked to see if there is any component of malnutrition which may impede wound healing.
For those who smoke or ingest any nicotine products in any form, they must stop all consumption for at least four weeks prior to surgery.
For the most part, the results will last indefinitely. The tissues will be tightened as much as they can safely be tightened to produce the optimal contour while allowing the incisions to heal. Incisions that are too tight will not heal well. After the body heals completely from surgery, some laxity can redevelop over time. The amount of laxity will depend mainly on the elastic properties of the skin. To some degree, this can be predicted pre-operatively. Any laxity that does develop will generally be minimal in nature, and is most often seen in the love handle area. Less than 25 percent of the time, this recurring skin laxity may require a touch-up surgery to re-tighten. When it is re-tightened, the procedure is much less extensive than the original operation.
Because the body lift combines abdominoplasty, and skin resection of the flank and back, the operation can last six hours or more if it is performed in one surgery.
Yes. In fact, when a man or woman is a candidate for body lift surgery, they are usually a candidate for other skin tightening procedures such as an arm lift or brachioplasty, chest wall tightening, a breast lift, gynecomastia, and a thigh lift. The combination of these procedures will depend on patient priorities and safety by keeping the operating room time down to one that is safe for the patient. Thus, stages of body lifts can be performed. In some cases for example, it makes sense to address the abdomen and inner thighs together since it won’t require patient re-positioning, which adds extra time to the surgery.
There will be an incision around the entire body. Incisional pain is usually tolerable with oral medications. After three days, the pain will subside significantly. If an abdominoplasty includes muscle wall tightening, then this part of the procedure will probably be the most uncomfortable but can be managed well with oral narcotics.
There is no reason why one should be confined to a bed after this type of surgery. Yes, it is extensive. But, the pain should not exceed any level that cannot be handled with oral narcotics. One should make every effort to be out of bed the following morning. Ambulating after this type of surgery is very important. It will expedite recovery and reduce post-operative risks of clot formation.
Downtime can mean a lot of different things to people. You won’t want to go out to dinner the following night after body lift surgery. However, it should not interfere with eating, ambulating, voiding, and other routine tasks. Most people will not want to return to work for at least five days. Often, a week is sufficient to return to a job that requires substantial standing.
Results will be seen immediately. A lot of tissue will be excised during surgery. Swelling (edema) will set in rather quickly, but even amid the added water volume from swelling, improved contour will be apparent the following day. Swelling will continue to subside over the course of weeks to months. Some skin laxity may return after a few months, but this is usually minimal in nature.
Suction drains are placed in the abdomen and will stay in place for about a week or so. These drains will remove fluid that would otherwise collect between the muscle and skin of the abdomen, potentially leading to seroma formation (which my require drainage in the office) and infection.
One will also need to wear a surgical garment for four weeks at all times except when bathing. Garments will help reduce the chance of fluid formation (seroma) that may require another office procedure, help shape the body and reduce swelling.
If you have lost a significant amount of weight but have been unhappy with your appearance due to loose folds of skin, a body lift is often the next step in the weight loss adventure. Contact Artisan of Beauty at 310‑858‑8811 to schedule your personal consultation with Dr. Neavin and find out if body lift surgery is right for you.