Body lift at a glance
- A body lift is an extensive cosmetic surgery that removes excess skin typically following substantial weight loss.
- The surgeon lifts and repositions the buttocks, abdomen, waist, hip as well as arms and face, if desired.
- Body lifts require several weeks of recovery before a patient can return to work.
- Lasting results dependent on patients’ ability to maintain consistent weight.
What is a body lift?
A body lift produces some of the most dramatic results of all cosmetic surgeries. Patients commonly elect for body lifts, also referred to as body-contouring surgery, after losing significant weight that results in excess and sagging skin around prominent parts of the body.
Contouring also helps patients with weak skin and tissue elasticity as result of age, sun damage and pregnancy. As part of the body lift procedure the surgeon will also likely remove large deposits of cellulite along with the excess skin thereby improving stretch marks.
Patients emerge from a body lift with a smoother, more proportional body shape. Surgeons lift and tighten the lower body area including the buttocks, groin, thighs and abdominal. Depending on the procedure plan, the surgeon may lift the arms as well.
A body lift is not a fat removal procedure; it’s a tightening and repositioning cosmetic practice. Liposuction alone may remove the undesired contours and fat deposits if skin is elastic enough. In the case of poor skin elasticity and excess fat and tissue, the surgeon may combine the body lift with liposuction to achieve desired results.
Body lift procedure
Since a body lift is the most extensive cosmetic procedure available to patients, the procedure may last anywhere from four to eight hours. Body lifts are conceptually similar to a facelift, but performed on a larger region and throughout the body. Surgical plans and precise procedure steps will vary from patient to patient and depend on body regions selected for surgery.
After administering general anesthesia, the surgeon makes an incision across the entire lower abdomen, cuts and removes excess skin and tissue. Some or all of the following body parts may be lifted and tightened after the incision:
Once the surgeon finishes lifting, tightening or repositioning skin and muscle on planned body parts, she or he places deep support sutures in the skin tissue. These help form and set the new contoured body shape. Skin adhesives, sutures, tapes and/or clips are then used to close the incisions.
Recovering from a body lift
Because the surgical plan for body lifts varies drastically, recovery times are challenging to generalize. As an extensive in-patient procedure, all patients will need to schedule considerable time to recover. Most patients take at least two to three months off from work.
Major swelling should disappear at the end of three months. During the recovery time, patients should wear surgeon prescribed compressions garment and avoid strenuous activities for several weeks.
Risks and considerations
Body lifts carry standard surgical risks including infection, bleeding, wound healing problems, and fluid buildup in the tissues (seroma)
Specific body lift risks also include:
- Numbness or changes in skin sensation
- Recurrent loosening of the skin
- Unfavorable and permanent scarring
Patients with a high BMI (body mass index) increase their risk of surgical complications during a body lift. Body lifts do not prevent future weight gain. Lasting results are dependent upon a patient’s ability to maintain a healthy and satisfactory body weight after operation.