Body Lift

Quick Facts About Body Lift

Procedure Time: 4-8 hours
In/Outpatient: Inpatient
Anesthesia: Anesthesia
Duration of Results: Permanent
Average Treatment Cost: $7,667
Recovery Time: Up to 4 weeks to return to work; 6–12 weeks to return to strenuous activity
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What you should know

What Is A Body Lift?

A body lift is a similar concept to a facelift, which smooths and tightens skin and underlying tissues, and removes unwanted pockets of fat to eliminate loose skin. However, the most common reason for a body lift is not aging, but rather skin that cannot conform to body contours because of lost or poor elasticity after weight loss, liposuction or other body-shape changes. And while a facelift may redistribute fat, a body lift will more likely remove it in conjunction with liposuction or excision (cutting the fat out).

For some patients, the underlying issue is not fat, but rather excess skin. Younger patients who benefit from a body lift are those who have gained and then lost a large amount of weight. This combination stresses the skin to shapes and proportions that can only be corrected through a body lift procedure.

During a body lift, your plastic surgeon reshapes your body contours by reducing fat; lifting, tightening and shaping the underlying skin matrix; and smoothing and reducing overlying skin. 

A body lift can address stretch marks, if the skin that is to be excised contains them, and cellulite. Stretch marks are the precursor to truly sagging skin, which can only be addressed with body lift surgery. But for most patients, stretch marks are only one part of the picture.

Cellulite is actually a skin issue, not a fat issue. The tethering bands of connective tissue are responsible for the orange-peel look because it’s the part of the skin that allows the fatty layer beneath to bulge through. Because women experience cellulite significantly more than men, most doctors believe estrogen plays a role in its development. Some patients think they have cellulite, but if you lift the skin and it goes away, that pitting may be a manifestation of skin laxity. In this case, a body lift can help make the skin smoother.

What Is A Lower Body Lift?

“Thong lift," "lateral tension lift," "circumferential lift," and "belt lipectomy": These terms and others describe the surgery that reshapes target zones, or the entire body from the waist area through the hips, by removing excess skin and reducing or redistributing fat.

Skin sags as gravity takes its toll after years of weight gain and loss, and fat begins to atrophy as well, causing the posterior to appear flat. In this case, a lower body lift improves and/or removes excess skin.

A lower body lift can address the tummy, love handles, flanks, buttocks, hips and thighs, individually or collectively. The result is more defined and proportionate contours with a smooth appearance and skin that conforms to your shape.

The procedure requires strategically placed incisions through which a plastic surgeon can reshape your body contours by reducing fat; lifting, tightening and shaping the underlying skin matrix; and smoothing and reducing the overlying skin.

If your skin doesn’t have enough elasticity, and your rear end looks a little deflated, a lower body lift is the only way to eliminate the excess skin and restore a tauter appearance. This procedure is essentially a more extensive tummy tuck that uses incisions along the upper area of the buttocks, as well as under the buttocks crease, so your surgeon can lift and rejuvenate the area. 

Depending on skin quality and the regions your lift will address, incisions could be limited or extensive. In general, patients are willing to accept the trade of visible scars for improved contour and shape.

The lifted shape of new and improved body zones is visible immediately after surgery, but contours, skin tone and scars will continue to refine for as long as six months to a year afterward. 

Who Should Consider A Body Lift

It is ideal for anyone who has excess skin and folds, uneven contours and unwanted pockets of fat, as well as women who gain an excessive amount of weight during pregnancy and are left with extra skin on the sides of the abdomen. 

Pear-shaped women who have truly slack skin, uneven contours and unwanted pockets of fat in the lower body will benefit from a lower body lift.

Who Should Not Consider A Body Lift

Those who are not willing to undergo surgery to eliminate excess skin and fat. Women who may decide to have more children. Anyone considering body contouring surgery to remove stretch marks should wait several months after having children, return to their normal weight and get back to their normal exercise routine and healthy lifestyle. If they become pregnant again, they could end up restretching the area and compromising the results.

What to Expect With A Body Lift

Depending on your individual concerns and goals, body lifts can be limited to a particular area of the body, or when more extensive surgery is necessary, staged in multiple procedures to address more than one area.

A lower body lift can require taking six to eight weeks off from work, which is why surgeons often recommend splitting up the procedures for a shorter overall recovery time.

During a body lift, excess skin and fat are removed to reshape the target areas and deliver smoother contours. Your new shape is visible immediately after surgery, but results (including skin tone and scars) will become increasingly refined for up to six months. You’ll likely be sent home (after a one- to two-day hospital stay for a lower body lift) in a compression garment to help the skin conform to the body and reduce swelling.

Post-Treatment Care: Body Lift

Thin, flexible tubes may be placed in your incisions to drain any excess fluid after surgery. Walking as soon as possible after surgery is a must to keep blood circulating and to prevent blood clots. Your plastic surgeon may provide you with crutches or a walker after surgery because standing fully upright will be difficult for a few days and bearing all your weight on your lower body can be very stressful.

Within a few days, you'll be able to shower, probably with some assistance. And if you have been wearing a compression garment, limit the time that garment is removed to no more than 10 minutes, or swelling can increase sharply.

Although many scars heal to fine lines, not all incisions heal well, and in many cases, body lift surgery requires long and extensive incisions. Properly caring for healing incisions, not smoking and maintaining a stable weight can all lessen your risk of developing raised, wide or poorly healed scars. After any body lift procedure, it’s imperative to maintain a stable weight to ensure lasting results.

Inside Tips: Body Lift

  • Scarring is one of the greatest drawbacks with both body lifts, so it's imperative that you discuss in great detail where your scars will form and what they will look like once you are fully healed. 
  • A number of patients will also need additional surgery down the line to refine results, but these secondary procedures usually are less extensive. Although the two or three stages of surgery can take a year or more, these procedures offer dramatic results.
  • Health insurance does not cover most of these procedures, but it may be tax deductible, so be sure to speak with your accountant.

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