Introduction: What is Body Lift?
Body lift is a procedure that helps to shape and tone the underlying tissue that , supports the overlying skin and fat in either the upper or lower body. Body lift involves removal of the excessive fat and sagging skin that has lost its elasticity. The various procedures employed for body lift can be broadly categorized as:
- Lower body lift: It includes lower body parts such as tummy, lateral thighs, buttocks, and lower back
- Upper body lift: It includes upper body parts such as breasts, chest and upper/middle back
If the treatment includes both upper and lower body lift, it is collectively known as a total body lift.
Who is an Ideal Candidate for a Body Lift?
Body lift procedures can be performed on patients who have had significant weight loss and/ or significant loose, sagging skin in multiple areas of the body.:
- Healthy patients without significant medical comorbidities
- Patients who are at their goal weight and stable at this weight for a few months
- Patients with realistic expectations of what a body lift can do for them
- Physically active patients
Before your procedure, a detailed medical history is obtained, and a thorough physical examination is performed. During your consultation, your doctor will advise you to stop smoking, if you smoke, to avoid post-surgical complications and delayed healing. You should eat a healthy diet and avoid any restrictive dieting during this time. You should inform your doctor of all medications that you are taking and about significant medical conditions, allergies and previous surgeries if any.
Photographs will also be taken during pre-operative consultation to submit for insurance, to be used in surgical planning and for before and after comparison. Your goals will be discussed, and realistic expectations will be set. After discussing surgical options, we will make an individualized surgical plan together that best suits your goals.
This is the best time to ask all your questions so that you can feel comfortable and confident going into surgery.
Procedure: Body Lift
The common steps involved in body lift procedure are as follows:
- The procedure is performed under general anesthesia.
- An incision is made over the skin, the length and pattern of which depends upon the location and amount of excess skin to be removed, as well as personal preference and surgical judgment.
- The combination of liposuction and surgical body lift is employed for toning the body.
- Deep support sutures, within the underlying tissues, help in forming new contours.
- For the most part in each of these procedures your incisions will be closed with dissolvable sutures that will be under the skin and you will have either surgical glue or surgical tape over your incisions which take about 1-2 weeks to fall off.
- You will have drains in place after surgery that will be removed in 1-2 weeks.
Risks and Complications of Body Lift
The possible risks and complications associated with body lift surgery include:
- Anesthetic risks
- Blood clots in the lungs or legs, cardiac and pulmonary complications
- Skin loss/
- Skin discoloration
- Numbness or changes in skin sensation
- Recurrence of loose skin
- Fluid collections (seroma)
- Fat necrosis
- Asymmetries or suboptimal aesthetic results
- Possibility of revision surgery
Recovery after Body Lift Procedure
After body lift there will be some temporary pain, discomfort, and swelling. Medications will be prescribed to relieve pain. You will wear a contoured elastic garment for extra support around the torso. Most patients stay overnight for observation which will be discussed in your pre-operative appointment. Upon discharge, patients will be instructed about proper wound care and how to manage their drains at home. Stitches are usually dissolvable and internal. Specific post-operative care regimen to minimize scarring will be discussed with each patient. Strenuous physical activity and heavy lifting over five pounds is discouraged for six weeks post-operatively – details of this limitation will be discussed with you specific to the surgery that you will be having. Patients should also avoid any excessive force or motion during the healing process of the surgical incisions. You will likely be able to resume work in 2 to 3 weeks depending on what kind of job you have and how you are feeling. Full recovery may take up to one year and you need to have follow-up appointments to ensure a positive surgical outcome.
The results of a body lift are evident almost immediately; however, it may take some time to see the full results allowing for time swelling and settling of the tissues to occur. Body lift trades scars for improved contour and although the scars are larger based on the nature of the procedure- you will have a new improved body contour. Every patient is different as is every surgery, and some patients may require a subsequent surgery to help achieve the most optimal body lift results.