A body lift is a body contour plastic surgery to remove the loose skin folds and soft tissue from the abdomen (tummy), hips, buttocks, and outer thighs that remain after extreme weight loss. Patients suited to having a body lift are those who are at or near their goal weight after having gastric banding or gastric bypass surgery (“bariatric surgery”, or people who have lost a large amount of weight through diet and exercise.
Having heavy excess skin can contribute to poor self-esteem about body image, despite weight loss. There are also side-effects of the condition related to skin hygiene, infection and rash. Having a body lift after extreme weight loss can also help you to fit into normal clothes if excessive skin folds prevent you from fully taking advantage of your changed physique.
Significant fat deposits are not removed during a body lift and it is not a weight loss or obesity treatment, however liposuction is sometimes performed during a body lift to remove localised fat deposits.
Body lift cosmetic surgery creates contour 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 or a tummy tuck is also done, to correct protrusion and reduce excess skin at the belly area.
Body lift surgery is often performed in conjunction with other plastic surgeries that will complement the patient’s overall appearance after weight loss. Some patients choose to have an arm lift or other cosmetic surgery such as a breast lift, brow lift, facelift or neck lift at the same time as having a body lift.
Body lift plastic surgery is performed under general anaesthesia in hospital and requires a five to seven day stay.
The incision is circumferential around the body at the buttocks. An apron of excess skin and fat deposits are removed and the skin is stretched and tightened.
Liposuction may be used during a body lift to remove persistent fatty deposits and to help form a new body contour. An abdominoplasty is also performed as part of a body lift to tighten the abdominal muscles.
The skin is tightened into position and excess skin is removed. The results of having a body lift are visible almost immediately after surgery, although it takes several months to fully recover from this extensive procedure.
What happens during a body lift consultation?
Your plastic surgeon will ask about your lifestyle, body image, health and medical history during a body lift consultation. 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 important to be clear about your expectations of the procedure and to understand the recovery process and the likely results you will achieve in the long term.
At Pure Aesthetics we recommend preparing a list of questions to be answered in person during your consultations, when your plastic surgeon can answer using case studies and body lift surgery before and after photographs of previous patients to address your concerns.
What complications can arise from the procedure?
As with any surgical procedure, there are potential risks and complications. These include:
- Bruising, bleeding, heamotoma formation
- Anaesthetic problems
- Deep Vein thrombosis
Risks and complications specific to body lift include:
- Assymetry of abdominal region
- Poor healing causing unsightly scarring
- Altered abdominal sensation, numbness or pain
- Poor scarring
- Malposition of umbilicus
- Elevation of pubic hair
- Bulges at the ends of the wound (“dog ears”)
What happens during recovery from body lift plastic surgery?
After body lift surgery, bandages are applied to the incision area and small tubes are used for several days to drain excess fluid. Soreness is controlled with pain medication. During recovery in hospital over several days you will wear support garments to reduce swelling and help the skin tighten evenly over the affected area.
During recovery it is normal to see swelling and bruising and to feel numbness or pain around the incision site which is treated with pain relief.
Patients should be mobile as soon as the day after surgery, but avoid heavy lifting and strenuous exercise for several weeks or as recommended by your plastic surgeon, who will provide detailed instructions to follow for long-term recovery. Full recovery may take several months.
Will a body lift suit me?
It is essential for body lift patients to be non-smokers, was maximum achievable weight loss which is stable, and in good general health. You should be serious about continuing good habits in diet and exercise after surgery. Your Pure Aesthetics plastic surgeon will explore with you your expectations about body image after plastic surgery and ensure that you have realistic goals.
How long will a body lift last?
The effect of a body lift is visible immediately and over as long as one to two years, your body’s contouring improves if you maintain good habits. Gravity and the body’s normal aging process will reduce skin firmness over time, but the benefits of your body lift will be long-term if you maintain a stable weight and a have good level of fitness.
What is the scar like from body lift surgery?
The scar is circumferential, which means it runs completely around your body at the underpants level, from the pubic area around to the upper buttocks level. Your Pure Aesthetics plastic surgeon will discuss incision position with you in advance, which will be located to be hidden from view beneath where underwear and swimwear. You will be shown plastic surgery before and after photographs from past patients of their body lift scarring to indicate what you can expect.
What does a body lift cost?
A full circumferential body lift, or belt lipectomy, is a major and lengthy operation, which takes between 6 and 8 hours to perform, and therefore can be a very expensive procedure. There is provision under Medicare for surgery after massive weight loss, under specific criteria, including a BMI reduction of at least 5 units, associated skin problems and other criteria. Please come with a referral from your GP or bariatric surgeon.
After your consultation with one of our plastic surgeons you will be supplied with an itemised estimate of the costs for your surgery, including the doctor’s fees, anaesthetist fees, assistant fees and estimated hospital fees.
You are responsible for checking your level of cover with your health fund, and any associated costs such as excess and co-payments.
In the event of unforeseen circumstances, it may be necessary to arrange additional medical services, resulting in further charges to you. This information will be provided to you as soon as possible after treatment occurs.