Body lift, also known as a belt lipectomy, is like a facelift for the center body. The procedure is performed to remove the excess skin or fatty tissue that exists on the body as a result of age or extreme weight loss. More extensive surgery than the tummy tuck, the body lift is performed on the lower torso and upper legs and involves the belly, hips, back, buttocks and outer thighs.
Other terms for body lift include torsoplasty, circumferential torsoplasty, central body lift, lower body lift, circumferential panniculectomy and circumferential lipectomy.
There are several groups of candidates for the extensive surgery involved in a body lift. The first group includes patients who have lost a great amount of weight, either through gastric bypass surgery, intestinal bypass surgery or change in nutrition and fitness habits. On average, these *people have lost between 60 and 350 pounds, but are left with excess skin on their faces, breasts, backs, trunks and thighs. Many people who have lost this much weight need plastic surgery to their entire bodies, including their arms and face, in order to attain normal body contours.
People who are not able to lose 30 or 40 pounds through diet or exercise also may opt for body lift surgeries. Instead of tummy tucks, which might create an imbalanced contour, people in this category choose to have their whole trunk altered. Normal weight women in their 30s and 40s, often many years past giving birth, also opt for body lift surgery to remove remaining post-baby weight and additional weight that came naturally with age. Some patients select body lift surgeries to correct overly aggressive liposuction surgeries.
Although the steps of the body lift procedure differ depending on the needs of the patient, doctors often perform surgery on the stomach first, removing excess skin from the belly button to the pubic area and then tightening the abdominal wall muscle. This is the area that is most often loosened by pregnancy or weight loss. The fat and skin from above the belly button is pulled down and sutured in place, and the belly button is pulled out to its normal position.
The procedure continues with the rest of the body parts, and often involves liposuction on the outer thighs. In all, the body lift surgery can take anywhere between 3 and 7 hours.
Recovery from the body lift can be painful and extended. Patients have tubes and drains left in their skin for one to two weeks post surgery to drain any tissue fluid or blood. They are encouraged to walk right away, and progressively move more as days pass. Most patients resume normal activity in four to six weeks after body lift surgery.
Circumferential Body Lift: Abdomen, Thighs and Buttocks
The abdomen is usually of greatest concern to individuals following massive weight loss. In both men and woman, excess fat is stored both in the abdomen and beneath the skin of the abdominal wall. Consequently, following weight loss, there tends to be both excess abdominal wall skin and loose muscles. In addition to the aesthetic concerns, the abdomen often presents as a functional problem following weight loss. Large amounts of hanging skin along the lower abdomen can lead to the collection of moisture between the skin folds resulting in a condition called intertriginous dermatitis. The skin is often irritated, red and painful. On occasion the skin may breakdown and bleed or even become infected. Non-surgical means of treating this problem include maintaining the skin folds dry. This can be frustrating and is only a temporary solution to the problem. The surgical removal of the excess skin and fat is called panniculectomy. Panniculectomy in the region of the abdomen is also referred to as an abdominoplasty or tummy tuck. The technique usually involves tightening the muscles of the abdomen and removing excess skin as well.
Addressing the excess skin of the abdomen is often very satisfactory following pregnancy but is usually inadequate following massive weight loss. As mentioned earlier, weight loss following bariatric procedures is generalized; consequently, excess skin is not just confined to the abdomen but involves the thighs and buttocks as well. For these reasons, a procedure called a body lift is usually performed on weight loss patients. The operation involves an abdominoplasty, thigh and buttock lift all at one time. The operation very effectively addresses loose skin and cellulite along the thighs and buttocks as well as the abdomen. Patients are often exhilarated just to learn that that such an operation exists. While the scar is lengthy, it is confined to the waistline and is hidden by conventional underwear, panties or a bikini. Both men and women tend to find the operation very rewarding.