A body lift, also known as a belt lipectomy, is performed to remove excess skin or fatty tissue on the body that results from age or extreme weight loss. More extensive than a tummy tuck, the body lift is performed on the lower torso and upper legs, and resculpts the abdomen, hips, back, buttocks and outer thighs.
Why Get a Body Lift?
Exercise and healthy diets cannot always achieve the desired results for people who have loose, sagging skin and uneven contours. Aging, sun damage, cellulite, genetics, pregnancy and significant fluctuations in weight may contribute to poor tissue elasticity, resulting in sagging of the abdomen, buttocks and thighs. A body lift may help to achieve a firmer, more-youthful-looking body.
Candidates for a Body Lift
People who have lost a large amount of weight, either through gastric bypass surgery, intestinal bypass surgery or changes in nutrition and fitness habits, may have excess skin on their bodies and are excellent candidates for body lifts. Other people who are unable to lose 30 or 40 pounds through diet or exercise may also opt for body lift surgeries. A body lift is also an option for normal-weight women who have given birth and want to remove remaining skin and tissue after losing post-pregnancy weight.
The Body Lift Procedure
The steps of the body lift procedure differ depending on the needs of the patient. In most cases, Dr. Walden operates 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 excessive weight loss. The fat and skin from above the belly button are pulled down and sutured in place, and the belly button is pulled out to its normal position.
The procedure continues with the buttocks and thighs, with the incisions being made as inconspicuous as possible. In cases that require the removal of fat, liposuction is often involved. The entire body lift procedure takes three to seven hours, and is performed under general anesthetic.
Recovery from a Body Lift
A body lift is a major surgical procedure and requires significant recovery time. Most patients can expect to remain in the hospital for one to three nights after the operation, and can typically return to work in four to six weeks. Patients are encouraged to walk after the surgery, but to avoid other activities, including exercising, until sufficient healing has occurred. This usually takes six to eight weeks. Approximately 75 percent of the swelling goes down after six weeks, and 90 percent after about three months.