Also called belt lipectomy, torsoplasty and panniculectomy, the circumferential body lift is performed to remove excess skin from the torso and upper legs. Candidates for body lifts typically suffer from loose (inelastic) skin on many or most areas of the body as a result of age, childbearing or significant weight loss due to diet, exercise or bariatric surgery. Because of this, the procedure is often combined with others such as breast lifts, arm lifts and liposuction to retain a proper body proportion. Body lifts tighten and tone the abdomen, back, buttocks, hips and thighs.
During the procedure, skin is lifted from underlying tissue, muscles are tightened and stitched, fat is removed where necessary, and the skin is sutured closed. The navel is often removed and replaced in its new position. Surgical tubes may be needed for a few days to drain any fluid, and patients may need to wear compression garments for a few weeks to facilitate faster healing.
After surgery, patients are encouraged to walk as soon as they are able to, although strenuous activities must be limited for about a month. Results are visible immediately.
Major weight loss achieved through either natural means or bariatric surgery is a great accomplishment that allows patients to significantly improve their appearance and overall quality of life, while also reducing the risk of weight-related health conditions.
After large amounts of weight loss, many patients are left with loose, hanging skin that has been stretched out by the excess weight and does not conform to the body’s new contours. There may also be one or more problem areas that has not responded well to weight loss methods and still contains localized areas of stubborn fat.
Many patients seek body contouring procedures to complete the weight loss process and achieve a smooth, toned appearance that they will be proud to show off. Body contouring procedures often target problem areas such as the:
Multiple procedures may be needed in order to achieve desired results and to reduce the trauma of treating several different body areas at once. Your surgeon will develop a personalized treatment plan for you based on your individual needs and goals for surgery.
Body contouring procedures are generally considered safe, especially when performed by an experienced surgeon. It is important for patients to be in good overall health, at a stable weight and to maintain realistic expectations for surgery. These procedures cannot serve as a means for significant weight loss, but instead reduce the appearance of loose, sagging skin for a smoother body contour.
What is Body Contouring after a Body Lift?
A body lift, sometimes called a torsoplasty, is done in a single surgical session, but it’s really a combination of procedures. A body lift combines abdominoplasty, a lateral thigh lift, and a buttock lift into a single procedure that addresses the abdomen, hips, thighs, buttocks, lower back, and pubic areas. While usually considered for patients who have lost large amounts of weight, body lifts can also be performed on patients who are unhappy with the overall sagging that comes with aging.
Because loose, sagging skin isn’t confined to the lower portions of the body, patients often combine a body lift with other procedures such as breast lifts, arm lifts, and liposuction. As a board-certified plastic surgeon who performs all of these procedures individually, Dr. Austin is singularly experienced to perform the combination of procedures that is a body lift.
What areas can be addressed with a Body Lift?
Technically, there are three different body lifts: lower body, mid body, and upper body. The reality is these are merged together depending on the patient’s unique situation. Here are the areas that each can target.
- Lower body lift
Because extreme weight loss occurs in areas such as the buttocks, hips, and thighs, lower body lifts are the most common of these procedures. A lower body lift not only removes excess skin, but it also seeks to lift the buttocks to reverse extreme sagging. This adds flattering contours to the patient’s new body.
- Mid body lift
This procedure takes all of the areas addressed with the lower body lift and moves upward to include the abdominal region. This extension enables Dr. Austin to create smooth, continuous contours from the abdomen all the way down to the thighs.
- Upper body lift
Here the arms are contoured with an arm lift, which removes sagging underarm skin and tightens underlying muscles; the breasts are returned to a higher position on the chest with a breast lift.
Who would be a good candidate for Body Lift Surgery?
After a person has lost a significant amount of weight it’s almost impossible for their skin to tighten down to the new underlying slimmer contours — the elasticity has been compromised by being overstretched for too long. That can be truly discouraging for a person who has had bariatric surgery or simply done the hard work required to lose a lot of weight. That’s where a body lift with Dr. Austin and our team at Oregon Plastic Surgeons can come in.
To have a body lift, a person should have lost between 30 to 50 percent of his or her peak body weight. There should be loose, drooping skin and tissue across the abdomen, probably the thighs, buttocks, breasts, upper arms, and other areas. Your weight should have been stable for a period of time, usually two years, to ensure you will not regain weight after this surgery. This also allows your skin to adjust as much as it can before any surgery is considered.
These are involved surgeries targeting multiple areas, so patients need to be in good overall health, both to handle the stress of the surgery and the subsequent recovery. You shouldn’t smoke, as this can interfere with your incision healing.
Good candidates also need to be realistic about what these procedures can achieve. Yes, your contours will be slimmed to your new smaller body shape, but there will be some lengthy incision scars. Body lifts also involve a difficult recovery.
What are the benefits of having a Body Lift after Major Weight Loss?
As mentioned above, it can be depressing for a person to lose a large amount of weight and then be saddled with loose, sagging skin across much of their body. This surgery with Dr. Austin allows your skin to match your new slimmer contour. This makes it fun to buy clothes. It brings a host of daily activities and sports back into your life, which, even after losing the weight, you have probably been avoiding due to your loose, sagging skin. Just exercising without the sagging skin is easier, as you’ll no longer develop rashes and infections.
From a logistical standpoint, a body lift combines procedures on multiple areas into a single surgical session. This saves money, and your recovery, while still involved, is much easier than having multiple recoveries.
While it is somewhat of a side benefit, the removal of extensive excess, sagging skin will also provide additional weight loss.
What is recovery like from a Body Lift?
A body lift is a major operation. Patients typically will spend one to three nights in the hospital following surgery. Drains are placed beneath the skin to remove excess blood and serum and usually remain in place for one to two weeks. A compression garment will need to be worn to provide support, reduce swelling, and help the body adjust to its new slimmer contour.
Any lifting and strenuous activity will need to be avoided for about four to six weeks. Full results can take up to one year to show themselves, as the body continues to adapt.
What results can a Body Lift achieve? How long will they last?
Although most of the results of your body lift are immediately visible after initial swelling resolves, it can take up to two years to fully realize your new, contoured body. Over this time your muscles adapt to their new positions, your skin tightens down as much as possible, and your scars begin to fade.
You can expect dramatic changes with our body lift procedures at Oregon Plastic Surgeons. The loose sagging skin is gone, replaced by firm, contoured tissue. If you maintain a healthy weight and incorporate exercise into your life, you’ll enjoy your new body for the rest of your life.
In some cases, after the body adjusts to the surgery or surgeries, it may become apparent that an additional, much smaller procedure, could add further contouring. This may or may not be necessary, but it is a possibility.