As you get off the scales, you feel proud of yourself. For the last year or so, you’ve worked really hard to lose weight. Feeling fit, healthy and happy you turn to look at yourself in the mirror. As you look in the mirror, that feeling quickly disappears. The body in front of you definitely weighs less. But the massive weight loss has left you with excess skin and fatty tissue all over your body. Your health and fitness has improved, but you weren’t expecting these side effects! Like when you try on a dress to show off your new body, but your excess arm skin prevents your arm from fitting in the sleeve. Or when the exercise pants in your new size draw attention to the excess skin around your waist and thighs.
So what can you do? The first thing to understand is that you’re not alone! Many people who have experienced massive weight loss, through gastric band surgery or dieting are faced with this challenge. Body lift surgery can get rid of excess skin and fatty tissue after you’ve lost a lot of weight.
What is a body lift?
A body lift is a surgical procedure to remove excess skin and fatty tissue from the middle and lower abdomen, hips, outer thighs, back, buttocks after extreme weight loss. It’s important to note that body lift surgery is not a treatment for being overweight. Cosmetic Surgeon’s recommend that people who are obese and intend to lose weight should delay all forms of body lift surgery until they are close to their desired weight. It is also important to maintain a stable weight for at least six months before the body lift surgery can occur.
Body lift surgery creates contours in the abdomen, upper thighs and buttocks in proportion to the body’s changed shape, by pulling up and removing excess skin from these areas. As part of a body lift, an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) can also be
Body lift surgery varies from patient to patient but may include these areas:
- Abdomen: the apron of excess skin locally or extending around the sides and into the lower back area
- Arm: sagging of the upper arms
- Breasts: excess skin, sagging breasts
- Buttocks: low, flat or shaped unevenly
- Groin: may sag into inner thigh
- Thigh: inner, outer, or posterior thigh, or the thigh’s circumference
Why do people get a body lift?
People best suited to having a body lift are those who may have lost a large amount of weight through diet and exercise. Other people suitable for body lift surgery may be at or near their goal weight after having gastric banding or gastric bypass surgery (bariatric surgery).
Having heavy excess, loose skin can contribute to poor self-esteem about your body image. Other side effects having excess skin are related to hygiene, skin rashes and infection.
What happens during a body lift?
Body lift surgery is performed under general anaesthetic in hospital. Most patients stay in hospital for 5 to 7 days.
A common lower body lift technique uses incisions similar to a bikini pattern to tighten the abdomen, groin, waist, thigh and buttock in one procedure. A circumferential incision around your body removes an apron of excess fat and skin to tighten and reposition tissues. Advanced surgical techniques usually allow incisions to be placed in strategic locations so they will be hidden by most clothing or swimsuits. To achieve an improved body contour, liposuction may also be used. Sutures, tapes, skin adhesives, or clips are used to close your skin incisions.
The results of having a body lift are visible almost immediately after surgery. It’s important to note that full recovery from this extensive procedure can take several months.
What are the different types of body lift procedures?
There are 3 different types of body lift procedures: lower body lift, mid body lift and total body lift:
1. Lower Body Lift
Lower body lift surgery (also called Belt Lipectomy) addresses the mid-section of your body, including the outer thighs, lower abdomen and buttocks. An incision is made across the lower part of your abdomen down to your inner thighs. Your loose skin will be removed and the remaining skin will be tightened. This will give the lower section of your body a significantly improved aesthetic.
2. Mid-Body Lift
Mid-body lift surgery is very similar to a lower body lift except it includes the stomach region. Incisions are made in your lower abdomen down to your thighs, and then excess skin and fat is trimmed away. In addition, the muscles in your abdomen are tightened, resulting in a more defined stomach and a slimmer waistline.
3. Total Body Lift
Total body lift surgery removes loose skin and extra fat from virtually every area of your body, including the abdomen, thighs, buttocks, arms, flanks, and breasts. An incision is made around the entire circumference of the body, and then excess skin in areas in the mid and lower body is removed and the remaining skin is pulled taut. Similar techniques are then performed on the arms and breasts. Because total body lift surgery is a complex procedure there is a longer recovery period than lower and mid-body lift surgeries.
Read more about body lift surgery here.
What are the risks and complications of body lift surgery?
Every surgery has risks including:
- Healing issues
- Changes in skin sensation
- Skin contour irregularities
- Skin discoloration and swelling
- Major wound separation
- Skin sensitivity
- Allergic reactions
- Damage to deeper structures
- Fat necrosis
Body lift surgery risks and complications include:
- Asymmetry of the abdominal region.
- Poor healing causing unsightly scarring: Some areas may not heal normally and may take a long time to heal and the skin may die. If this happens frequent dressing changes or further surgery will be needed to remove the non-healed tissue. It’s important to note that smokers have a greater risk of skin loss and wound healing complications.
- Altered abdominal sensation, numbness or pain.
- Changed position of umbilicus: Malposition, scarring, unacceptable appearance or loss of the umbilicus (navel) may occur.
- Pubic distortion: This includes elevation of pubic hair and in some women, it is possible, to develop distortion of their labia. If this happens, additional treatment including surgery may be necessary.
What is recovery like after having a body lift?
Your recover time after body lift surgery will depend on which type of procedure is performed. Lower and mid-body lift surgeries typically require at least 2 to 4 weeks of healing and rest. Total body lift surgeries often require at least 6 weeks of recovery.
After any body lift surgery you can expect to have bruising and swelling. Any pain or discomfort you experience can be managed with medication. You will need to wear a compression garment during the day and at night for at least 2 weeks. This provides support for the healing area and will minimize swelling and bruising.
Strenuous physical activity should be limited for at least 6-8 weeks after surgery. Light activity is encouraged to promote the healing process. Any bruising will disappear within a few weeks, with swelling subsiding in a few months. While your body lift scars will be permanent, they will fade in about 12 months and can be hidden by your clothing.
Where do I find the best Australian body lift Cosmetic Surgeons?
During a body lift consultation, your surgeon will ask about your body image, lifestyle, health and medical history. You will be examined and have measurements taken as well as photographs, for the purpose of planning your surgery and monitoring changes of appearance afterwards.
It is very important to be clear about your expectations of the body lift procedure, to understand the recovery process and the likely results you will achieve in the long term. Body lift surgery is not for everyone and requires a significant recovery period. You can find the best Australian Body Lift Surgeons here.