body lift patient
body lift patient

Losing a significant amount of weight by any method is a wonderful accomplishment. Whether you achieved your goals through bariatric surgery or diet and exercise, you deserve to celebrate your success and enjoy your renewed health, energy and confidence.

But what if your weight loss journey has left you with excess skin around your abdomen, buttocks and thighs? Following significant weight loss, many people struggle with loose, hanging skin or redundant folds that conceal the healthy body underneath. Often, patients say they feel fit and vibrant inside, but their physical transformation is hidden by the larger frame they formerly filled out.

It can be discouraging to have achieved so much yet still feel unhappy with the body you see in the mirror. Fortunately, there is a solution that can help you feel the confidence and joy you deserve after your weight loss journey.

Body lifting surgeries can restore a tight, youthful contour to skin that has been stretched by weight gain or lost elasticity during the aging process. More than any other procedure, a body lift can truly be a life-changing event, and Edina Plastic Surgery is the place to come for expertise in body lifts. Schedule a consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon by contacting our team or calling 952-925-1765 today.

What to Expect

  • Anesthesia: General
  • Length of surgery: 4-6 hours
  • Outpatient/inpatient: Outpatient or inpatient
  • Adjunct procedures: Liposuction, Brazilian Butt Lift, Mastopexy, Brachioplasty
  • Recovery: 2-3 weeks to return to work, 2-3 months to resume all activities

 

Designing Your Body Lift Procedure

A body lift can dramatically reshape your body’s contours by removing sagging skin and stubborn pockets of fat that often result from extreme weight loss. The surgery typically includes the abdomen, hips, buttocks and upper thighs. In some cases, the procedure addresses the entire midsection with incisions that extend completely around the lower abdomen and lower back. Some patients may benefit from a fleur-de-lis incision pattern if they have excessive skin in the vertical plane of their abdomen as well.

Like a mommy makeover, a body lift improves multiple areas of concern simultaneously, and the surgery is extensively customized for the patient’s own shape and needs. Typically, the goals of a body lift are to tighten the abdominal skin and muscle through an extension of the classic abdominoplasty, and to incorporate a lateral thigh lift and buttock lift for comprehensive rejuvenation of the lower body.

Liposuction may be used with any body lift technique for improved contouring. While body lift surgery addresses loose skin and some excess fat, liposuction adds even more ability to remove unwanted fat and sculpt smooth, attractive contours. The results can be twice as balanced and harmonious when these two symbiotic procedures are combined.

Combining a Body Lift With an Arm Lift for Total Transformation

The effects of massive weight loss aren’t limited to the lower body. For those hoping to reduce excess skin and fat between the underarm and the elbow, an arm lift (brachioplasty) may be an option. 

Arm lift surgery addresses drooping tissue on the underside of the upper arms, often referred to as “bat wings.” Incisions are placed along the inside of the arm or along the back of the arm, depending on the surgeon’s preference, and may extend from the underarm to just above the elbow. This area can also be treated with liposuction for additional contouring.

Combining an arm lift with a body lift can profoundly improve the upper body and lower body all at once. For even more upper body transformation, a breast procedure such as a breast lift may be considered. 

Deciding If Body Lift Surgery Is Right for You

Diet can help you lose fat and weight training can help improve muscle strength, but a healthy lifestyle cannot address excess skin, localized fat deposits and weakened underlying tissues. This is where body lift surgery excels.

The best candidate for this procedure has skin laxity that extends around the lower body. This condition is often the aftermath of massive weight loss, such as gastric bypass surgeries, but it can also result from large pregnancies or even a genetic predisposition for lax skin. 

The risks of blood transfusion and/or infection are very low; however, smokers and extremely overweight patients are not good candidates for this procedure. Patients who have had massive weight loss by bariatric surgery should be at least one year out from their surgery and should have maintained their weight, within 10-20 lbs of their goal weight, for at least six months.

It’s important to remember that a body lift is not intended for weight loss. You should be close to or at your ideal weight before considering this procedure. Being within a healthy weight range before surgery can ease your recovery, improve how your incision heals, reduce the risk of certain complications and even decrease your downtime.

You should not be in the process of losing weight when undergoing a body lift. Your body needs energy to heal from this extensive operation, and it cannot produce enough if you are calorie restricting. Patients who have undergone bariatric surgery should have their nutrition labs, such as their pre-albumin, albumin, iron, B12 and folate, checked prior to surgery, depending on what type of bariatric surgery they had, to make sure their nutrition is optimized for healing.

Preparing for a Body Lift

The healthier you are before your body lift, the better your body will recover after the procedure. 

At your consultation, tell your surgeon if you have any health issues or take any medications. Ask what you can do to get in better shape before your operation and discuss what you can expect during your recovery.

For at least two weeks before the procedure, make it a point to eat a healthy, balanced diet and get seven or eight hours of sleep each night. If you smoke, stopping six weeks prior to the procedure will reduce your risk of healing complications as well as anesthetic complications. Follow your surgeon’s directions for taking or stopping your regular medications and supplements. 

Make a plan for post-surgery care. Because you will be under general anesthesia, someone you trust will need to pick you up and take you home. It is prudent to have a responsible adult stay overnight with you for at least one night and to have someone available to assist you during the days.

The Body Lift Procedure

Body lift surgery is usually done on an outpatient basis, but hospital stays may be indicated for some patients. 

The length and type of incision used in your procedure will depend on the amount of excess skin that will be removed and the location of that skin. An extensive consultation is required before the surgery to map out the ideal placement of the incisions. Sophisticated surgical techniques usually allow incisions to be strategically placed so they are hidden by most clothing and swimsuits.

One common body lift technique uses incisions in a pattern that resembles the bottom of a bikini. This technique allows the surgeon to tighten the abdomen, waist, groin, buttocks and thighs in one procedure. Deep sutures are placed in the underlying tissues to help anchor the newly shaped contours.

What to Expect During Body Lift Recovery

Rest as much as possible after your body lift surgery. You will be tired after anesthesia and may feel dizzy or off-balance when standing or walking. Take pain medications and other prescriptions as directed by your surgeon.

It’s normal to experience one or more of the following in the weeks after your surgery: 

  • Swelling 
  • Bruising 
  • Pain and discomfort
  • Redness around incisions
  • Skin tightness
  • Numbness 
  • Constipation while taking narcotics

 

To reduce post-surgical risk and accelerate recovery, the surgeons at Edina Plastic Surgery use a pain management protocol that allows early walking. Many patients transition to over-the-counter pain medications after the first week, and some find that they need none at all by this point. Steri-Strips are placed over the incisions, which are closed with absorbable sutures. Drains are usually used in this operation and will be removed based on output, normally about one to three weeks after the procedure.

Follow your surgeon’s instructions regarding after-care and postoperative restrictions. Anticipate taking two to three weeks off work and waiting two to three months before you can resume all normal activities. 

Body Lift Results

Although you will be swollen after surgery, you will see immediate results in the overall shape and contour of your body. Our surgeons generally begin a scar therapy treatment program three weeks after body lift surgery. This procedure leaves a significant scar, but it is through that scar that significant results are possible. Most patients happily report that their results are worth it.

At Edina Plastic Surgery, we’re lucky to have our Skin Artisans medical spa right next door. Skin Artisans provides many in-office treatment options that can minimize the appearance of scars, including laser resurfacing treatments, microneedling and chemical peels.

The improvements from a lower body lift are generally long-lasting. As with any body contouring procedure, you must be dedicated to the result and use a common-sense approach to diet and exercise to maintain your new figure. A healthy lifestyle can help you enjoy your results for as long as possible.

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