What is a Body Lift?
A body lift improves the shape and tone of the abdomen, back, and lower extremities. Excess sagging fat and skin are removed to treat conditions caused in part by poor tissue elasticity. A body lift may include these areas:
- Abdominal area, locally or extending around the sides and into the lower back area.
- Buttocks, that may be low, flat or shaped unevenly.
- Groin that may sag into the inner thigh.
- Thigh, including the inner, outer, or posterior thigh, or circumferentially
Body lifts are not intended strictly for the removal of excess fat. Liposuction, alone, can remove excess fat deposits where skin has good elasticity and is able to naturally conform to new body contours. In cases where skin elasticity is poor, a combination of liposuction and body lift techniques may be recommended.
- Length of Procedure: 2 – 5 hours
- Anesthesia: Light General – outpatient procedure
- Side Effects: Temporary pain. Swelling, soreness, numbness of abdominal skin, bruising, tiredness for several weeks or months.
- Risks: Blood clots. Infection. Bleeding under the skin flap. Poor healing resulting in conspicuous scarring or skin irregularity. Need for further surgery.
- Recovery: Patients should expect to return to work within 10 – 14 days.
- Exercise: Patients should abstain from rigorous exercise for the first 2 weeks following the procedure, after which they may return to low impact exercise increasing to moderate impact at 6 weeks, and a return to full exercise intensity at 8 weeks.
- Fading and Scar Improvement: Depending upon the health of the underlying tissue, the patient should begin to notice a reduction in the appearance of the surgical scar in 6 to 12 months.
- Bruising: Localized bruising of the area will be noticeable for 2-4 weeks following the procedure.
- Swelling: Moderate to significant swelling of the area should be expected for up to 4 weeks following the initial procedure with a reduction and dissipation over the course of the next 2 to 3 months.
- Recovery: the patient can expect to begin noticing improvement within 2 weeks, with a noticeable improvement in appearance at 4 weeks and continued subtle/soft improvements for 6 months.
- Duration of Results: Permanent
- Office Visits: 1st Visit 3 to 5 days / 2nd Visit 7 to 10 days Anticipated # of office visits: 3 to 5 the first 3 months then yearly.There will be 7 to 10 additional office visits expected within the first 3 months, another at 6 months, and then annually after that.
- Pain Relief: Ibuprofen and narcotics as needed.
All lower body lift techniques tighten the buttocks/back of the thighs and hips/outer thighs. Loose sagging skin below the incision is removed. The remaining skin in the buttock and thighs is pulled upwards, and the skin is repaired, suspending the tissues and tightening them. This requires positioning the patient on their tummy or side during the procedure. Incision closure is performed in multiple layers over drains, to control stretching and swelling. Once the back and sides of the patient have been addressed, the front of the patient is treated with the patient positioned on his/her back. Two options are available. These options should be discussed with you preoperatively and are chosen based upon your choice. One option is to combine the lower body lift with abdominal contouring, otherwise known as tummy tuck (abdominoplasty). The other option is to combine lower body lift with an inner thigh lift if the abdomen does not require contouring, or if the patient has had a previous abdominoplasty. These techniques utilize the removal of skin, or excision of skin, to tighten loose, sagging tissue. It can include the removal of the fat layer under the excised skin to lessen fullness and padding in the lower body. Candidates for body lift surgery all have extra skin that must be removed by excision. This differs from liposuction, in that liposuction removes only fat through small quarter inch incisions, but no skin. However, liposuction may be done in conjunction with body lifting techniques to smooth and contour areas separate from the effects of the body lift excisions. A thorough discussion and examination are essential to determining a comprehensive surgical plan. The following conditions could indicate that body lift is right for you:
- Have experienced a massive weight loss due to dieting or bariatric surgery
- Pregnancy and/or aging have left you with loose or sagging skin in the hip, thigh, abdomen and/or buttock areas
- Relatively thin layers of fat below the skin of these areas
- Overhanging skin in your lower body restricts your mobility and/or causes painful chafing, rashes or infection
One common technique of complete lower body lift uses incisions similar to a bikini pattern to tighten the abdomen, groin, waist, thigh and buttock in one procedure. An incision around the body removes an apron of excess skin and fat and repositions and tightens tissues.
Surgical body lifts may require liposuction to achieve an improved contour. The results of body lift surgery are visible almost immediately. However, it may take two years or more for the final results of the body lift procedures to fully develop. Some visible scars will remain, but the overall results are long lasting, provided that you maintain a stable weight and general fitness.