What is a body lift?
A well-toned body with smooth contours often is a sign of fitness achieved by healthy diet and exercise. But exercise cannot always achieve desired results for people who have loose, sagging skin and uneven contours. Aging, sun damage, pregnancy and significant fluctuations in weight as well as genetic factors may contribute to poor tissue elasticity and can result in sagging of the abdomen, buttocks, thighs and upper arms.
If you desire a firmer, more youthful-looking body contour, then a surgical body lift may help achieve your goals. It improves the shape and tone of the underlying tissue that supports fat and skin. Excess sagging fat and skin are removed to treat conditions caused in part by poor tissue elasticity. In addition, the procedure(s) can improve a dimpled, irregular skin surface, commonly known as cellulite. 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
What to expect during your consultation
The success and safety of your body lift procedure depends very much on your complete candidness during your consultation. You’ll be asked a number of questions about your health, desires and lifestyle. Be prepared to discuss:
- Why you want the surgery, your expectations and desired outcome
- The options available in body lift surgery
- Medical conditions, drug allergies and medical treatments
- Use of current medications, vitamins, herbal supplements, alcohol, tobacco and drugs
- Previous surgeries
Your surgeon may also:
- Evaluate your general health status and any pre-existing health conditions or risk factors
- Examine and measure your body, including detailed measurements
- Take photographs for your medical record
- Discuss your options and recommend a course of treatment
- Discuss likely outcomes of body lift surgery and any risks or potential complications
Prior to surgery, you may be asked to:
- Get lab testing or a medical evaluation
- Take certain medications or adjust your current medications
- Stop smoking well in advance of surgery
- Avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements as they can increase bleeding
Special instructions you receive will cover:
- What to do on the day of surgery
- The use of anesthesia during your body contouring surgery
- Post-operative care and follow-up
Your plastic surgeon will also discuss where your procedure will be performed. Body lift surgery may be performed in an accredited office-based surgical center, outpatient or ambulatory surgical center, or a hospital.
What happens during body lift surgery?
Step 1 -Anesthesia
Medications are administered for your comfort during the surgical procedures. The choices include intravenous sedation and general anesthesia. Your doctor will recommend the best choice for you.
Step 2 – The incision
Incision length and pattern depend on the amount and location of excess skin to be removed, as well as personal preference and surgical judgment.
A complete lower body lift treats the buttocks, abdomen, waist, hips and thighs in one procedure. A circumferential incision around the body removes an apron of excess skin and fat and repositions and tightens tissues.
A combination of liposuction and surgical body lifts may be necessary to achieve an improved contour. Deep support sutures within underlying tissues help to form the newly shaped contours.
Step 3 – Closing the incisions
Sutures, skin adhesives or tapes close the skin incisions.
Step 4 – See the results
The results of a body lift are visible almost immediately. It may take as long as one to two years for the final results to fully develop.
Important facts about the safety and risks of body lift surgery
The decision to have a body lift is extremely personal and you’ll have to decide if the benefits will achieve your goals and if the risks and potential complications are acceptable. Your plastic surgeon and/or staff will explain in detail the risks associated with surgery. You will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the procedure you will undergo and any risks or potential complications.
Possible risks of body lift surgery include:
- Unfavorable scarring
- Bleeding (hematoma)
- Fluid accumulation
- Poor wound healing
- Skin loss
- Blood clots
- Numbness or other changes in skin sensation
- Anesthesia risks
- Skin discoloration and/or prolonged swelling
- Fatty tissue found deep in the skin might die (fat necrosis)
- Major wound separation
- Recurrent looseness of skin
- Pain, which may persist
- Deep vein thrombosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications
- Persistent swelling in the legs
- Possibility of revisional surgery
- Sutures may spontaneously surface through the skin, become visible or produce irritation that require removal
Is it right for me?
Before you decide to undergo body lift surgery, your weight must be relatively stable. Women considering future pregnancies should postpone an abdominal body lift since pregnancy may diminish the results.
Good candidates for body lift surgery are:
- Individuals with significant soft tissue looseness in one or multiple body areas
- Healthy individuals who do not have medical conditions that can impair healing or increase risk of surgery
- Individuals with a positive outlook and realistic goals for what body lift surgery can accomplish
- Individuals committed to leading a healthy lifestyle including proper nutrition and fitness
When you go home – If you experience shortness of breath, chest pains, or unusual heart beats, seek medical attention immediately. Should any of these complications occur, you may require hospitalization and additional treatment.
The practice of medicine and surgery is not an exact science. Although good results are expected, there is no guarantee. In some situations, it may not be possible to achieve optimal results with a single surgical procedure and another surgery may be necessary.
Be careful – Following your physician’s instructions is key to the success of your surgery. It is important that the surgical incisions are not subjected to excessive force, abrasion, or motion during the time of healing. Your doctor will give you specific instructions on how to care for yourself.
The results of a body lift are visible almost immediately. However, it may take as much as one to two years, or more, for the final results of the body lift procedures to fully develop. Scars will remain, but the overall results are long-lasting, provided that you maintain a stable weight and general fitness. As your body ages, it is natural to lose some firmness. However, most of your initial improvement should be relatively permanent.