Body Lift Surgery
A body lift 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.
Enhancing your appearance with 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 it won’t do:
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.
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
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.
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:
Poor wound healing
Numbness or other changes in skin sensation
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
Be sure to ask questions:
It’s very important to ask your plastic surgeon questions about your body lift procedure. It’s natural to feel some anxiety, whether it’s excitement for your anticipated new look or a bit of preoperative stress. Don’t be shy about discussing these feelings with your plastic surgeon.
After your body lift procedure is completed, dressings or bandages will be applied to the incisions. A small, thin tube may be temporarily placed under the skin to drain any excess blood or fluid that may collect.
You will be given specific instructions that may include: How to care for your surgical site(s) following surgery, medications to apply or take orally to aid healing and reduce the risk of infection, specific concerns to look for at the surgical site or in your general health, and when to follow up with your plastic surgeon.
Be sure to ask your plastic surgeon specific questions about what you can expect during your individual recovery period.
Where will I be taken after my surgery is complete?
What medication will I be given or prescribed after surgery?
Will I have dressings/bandages after surgery?
When will they be removed?
Are stitches removed? When?
When can I resume normal activity and exercise?
When do I return for follow-up care?
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 will be long-lasting
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.
How much will body lift surgery cost?
Cost is always a consideration in elective surgery. Prices for body lifts can vary widely. A surgeon’s cost for body lift surgery may vary based on his or her experience as well as geographic office location.
Many plastic surgeons offer patient financing plans, so be sure to ask.
Costs may include:
Hospital or surgical facility costs
Prescriptions for medication
Post-surgery garments, and
Your satisfaction involves more than a fee
When choosing a plastic surgeon for a body lift, remember that the surgeon’s experience and your comfort with him or her are just as important as the final cost of the surgery.
Most health insurance does not cover cosmetic surgery or its complications.
Words to know
Abdominoplasty: A surgical procedure to correct the apron of excess skin hanging over your abdomen.
Circumferential incision: A surgical incision around the body to remove the "belt" of excess skin and fat and additional incisions that may resemble a bikini bottom pattern.
Circumferential thigh lift: A surgical procedure to correct sagging of the outer and mid-thigh.
General anesthesia: Drugs and/or gases used during an operation to relieve pain and alter consciousness.
Hematoma: Blood pooling beneath the skin.
Intravenous sedation: Sedatives administered by injection into a vein to help you relax.
Liposuction: Also called lipoplasty or suction lipectomy, this procedure vacuums out fat from beneath the skin's surface to reduce fullness.
Local anesthesia: A drug injected directly to the site of an incision during an operation to relieve pain.
Lower body lift: Surgical procedure to correct sagging of the abdomen, buttocks, groin and outer thighs.
Macerated skin: Excess skin that hangs and becomes wet or infected underneath.
Medial thigh lift: A surgical procedure to correct sagging of the inner thigh.
Sutures: Stitches used by surgeons to hold skin and tissue together.
Tummy tuck: A surgical procedure to correct the apron of excess skin hanging over your abdomen.
Questions to ask my cosmetic surgeon
Use this checklist as a guide during your consultation
Are you certified by the Health Board of Plastic Surgery?
Were you specifically trained in the field of plastic surgery?
How many years of plastic surgery training have you had?
Do you have hospital privileges to perform this procedure?
If so, at which hospitals?
Is the office-based surgical facility accredited by a nationally- or state-recognized accrediting agency, or is it state-licensed or Medicare-certified?
Am I a good candidate for this procedure?
What will be expected of me to get the best results?
Where and how will you perform my procedure?
What surgical technique is recommended for me?
How long of a recovery period can I expect, and what kind of help will I need during my recovery?
What are the risks and complications associated with my procedure?
How are complications handled?
How can I expect my body to look over time? After pregnancy?
What are my options if I am dissatisfied with the cosmetic outcome of my body lift?
Do you have before-and-after photos I can look at for this procedure and what results are reasonable for me?
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