Body lift surgery is generally used to remove excess amounts of sagging skin. The tissues are also manipulated to create a smoother and more youthful contour. When the loose skin is removed, the remaining skin is tightened, firmed, and appears more toned. This procedure may also improve the appearance of cellulite, which is a dimpled, cottage cheese-like skin surface.
Patients may have excess amounts of skin due to several factors. The natural aging process may be one reason. Any body changes due to pregnancy are other possible factors. The patient may also have experienced significant weight loss, such as after a weight loss surgery.
A lower body lift surgery usually tightens the hips, waist, thighs, buttocks, groin, and abdomen. The upper body lift surgery typically treats the chest, breasts, and upper back. A patient may choose to combine the two approaches for a total body lift.
These surgical procedures are not intended for weight loss purposes. If the patient has excess amounts of fat deposits, additional steps may be needed. The surgeon may discuss using both liposuction to remove extra fat, as well as the body lift surgery to remove excess skin.
Not all patients are considered to be good candidates for a body lift surgery. Non-smokers who are in good health are ideal candidates. Women who may become pregnant are generally not good candidates, as pregnancy will significantly change the contour of the abdomen. If the condition of the body is due to significant weight gain and loss, the patient should have demonstrated the ability to commit to maintaining a healthy weight.
Preparation for a body lift surgery includes a discussion of all the medications and supplements the patient is taking. The patient may need to stop taking certain medications, including over-the-counter drugs, for a period of time before the surgery. Surgeons should ask about any pre-existing medical conditions. The patient may undergo some lab tests, such as a complete blood count, to evaluate current health.
Body lift surgery is typically performed under general anesthesia, which will put the patient to sleep. The length, pattern, and number of incisions will depend on the location and amount of the skin that is going to be removed. Often, the surgeon will make incisions that encircle the waist, much like a belt. The surgeon will remove the extra skin and use sutures for support within the tissues, which will help to form the new body contour. He will then use sutures or surgical tape to close the incisions.
Typically, patients will need to recover in the hospital for one to three nights. They often need between four and six weeks of recovery before returning to normal activities, and at least six to eight weeks before attempting exercise. Swelling may persist for approximately three months. The surgeon will place a small, thin drainage tube under the patient’s skin to collect any accumulating fluid. This can often be removed in about two weeks.
As with any surgery, there are risks associated with these procedures. The patient should be aware that there is a possibility of scarring and skin discoloration, as well as infection, blood clots, and bleeding. Numbness, skin swelling, and persistent pain may also occur. It is also possible that the deep support sutures will surface and need to be removed. Before deciding upon body lift surgery, the patient should carefully weigh the benefits versus the risks.