What is a body lift?
A body lift improves the shape and tone of the underlying tissue that supports skin and fat. Excess sagging skin and fat are removed and the procedure(s) can improve a dimpled, irregular skin surface.
A body lift may include these areas
- Abdominal area - locally or extending around the sides and into the lower back area
- Thigh - the inner, outer or posterior thigh, or the thigh's circumference
Aging, sun damage, pregnancy, significant fluctuations in weight and genetic factors may contribute to poor tissue elasticity that can result in sagging of the abdomen, buttocks and thighs.
What a body lift can'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, body lift techniques along with liposuction may be recommended.
Body lift candidates
In general, body lift candidates include:
- Individuals with significant soft tissue looseness in one or multiple body areas
- Healthy individuals without medical conditions that 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 with proper nutrition and fitness
Body lift recovery
During your body lift surgery recovery, dressings or bandages will be applied to the incisions after the procedure is complete. Small, thin tubes may be temporarily placed under the skin to drain any excess blood 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
- Specific concerns to look for at the surgical site or in your general health
- How to care for your drains
- When to follow up with your plastic surgeon
Be sure to ask your body lift 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?
- When can I bathe after surgery and how may I bathe?
- Are stitches removed? When?
- When will the drains be removed?
- When can I resume normal activity, driving and exercise?
- When do I return for follow-up care?
Body lift surgery recovery at home
If you experience shortness of breath, chest pains or unusual heartbeats, seek medical attention immediately. Should any of these complications occur, you may require hospitalization and additional treatment.
Body lift results
The results of body lift surgery are visible almost immediately. However, it may take two years or more for the final results of the body lift procedures to fully develop.
Some visible 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 remain.
Although good results are expected from your body lift surgery, 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.
Following your physician's instructions is essential to the success of your surgery.
It is important that the surgical incisions are not subjected to excessive force, motion, swelling or abrasion during the time of healing. Your doctor will give you specific instructions on how to care for yourself.
Body lift procedure steps
Body lift procedures are surgical procedures and they require extensive incisions. Incision length and pattern depend on the amount and location of excess skin to be removed, as well as surgical judgment.
Advanced techniques usually allow incisions to be placed in strategic locations where they can be hidden by most types of clothing and swimsuits.
Step 1 – Anesthesia
Medications are administered for your comfort during the surgical procedure. The choices include intravenous sedation and general anesthesia. Your doctor will recommend the best choice for you.
Step 2 – The incision
One common technique of complete lower body lift uses incisions similar to a bikini pattern to tighten the abdomen, groin, waist, thigh and buttock in one procedure. An incision around the body removes an apron of excess skin and fat and repositions and tightens tissues.
Surgical body lifts may require liposuction to achieve an improved contour.
Step 3 – Closing the incisions
Deep sutures within underlying tissues help to form and support the newly shaped contours. Sutures, skin adhesives, tapes or clips may be used to 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. Get more information on body lift results.
Body lift risks and safety
The decision to have plastic surgery is extremely personal. You will have to decide if the benefits will achieve your goals and if the risks and potential complications of body lift surgery 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 body lift surgery risks include:
- Anesthesia risks
- Bleeding (hematoma)
- Poor wound healing
- Fluid accumulation
- Numbness or other changes in skin sensation
- Fatty tissue under the skin might die (fat necrosis)
- Pain, which may persist
- Recurrent looseness of skin
- Persistent swelling in the legs
- Skin discoloration and/or prolonged swelling
- Deep vein thrombosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications
- Possible need for revisionary surgery
- Skin loss
- Sutures may spontaneously surface through the skin, become visible or produce irritation and require removal
- Unfavorable scarring
These risks and others will be fully discussed prior to your consent. It is important that you address all your questions directly with your plastic surgeon.
Your body lift consultation
During your body lift surgery consultation be prepared to discuss:
- Your surgical goals
- Medical conditions, drug allergies and previous medical treatments
- Current medications, vitamins, herbal supplements, alcohol, tobacco and drug use
- Previous surgeries
Your plastic surgeon will also:
- Evaluate your general health status and any pre-existing health conditions or risk factors
- Examine and measure your body, this may include detailed body measurements
- Take photographs for your medical records
- Discuss your body lift options
- Recommend a course of treatment
- Discuss likely outcomes of body lift surgery and any risks or potential complications
The success and safety of your body lift procedure depends on your complete candidness during your consultation. You will be asked a number of questions about your health, desires and lifestyle.
Be sure to ask questions. To help, we have prepared a checklist of questions to ask your body lift surgeonthat you can take with you to your consultation.It's very important to understand all aspects of 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.
Preparing for body lift surgery
In preparing for body lift surgery, you may be asked to:
- Get a lab test or a medical evaluation
- Take certain medications or adjust your current medications
- Stop smoking
- Avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements and other medications that may increase bleeding
Body lift surgery may be performed in an accredited office-based surgical facility, ambulatory surgical center or a hospital.
If your body lift is performed on an outpatient basis, be sure to arrange for someone to drive you to and from surgery, and to stay with you for at least the first night following surgery.