When a person loses massive amounts of weight, be it through gastric bypass surgery or disciplined changes in diet and exercise, what’s left can be truly disappointing — without the extra weight, now they’re left with loose, sagging skin, along with stubborn pockets of fat in various locations.
It’s hard for a person in this situation to embrace their new slimmer body. Clothes are impossible to find. Rubbing skin can create rashes and infections. It’s as if your body is a new smaller size, but your skin is stuck in your old large days.
You don’t have to live with all of this excess skin. You lost the weight; now lose the excess skin and pockets of fat with a body lift from the expert surgeons at Plastic Surgery Group of Rochester. A body lift removes excess skin and fat and tightens separated underlying support muscles where applicable.
What Is A Body Lift?
A body lift is completely customized to the patient depending on the location of his or her surplus skin. Our surgeons remove the excess sagging skin and fat as needed. Muscles that have become separated are brought back together and attached. The abdominal area is typically a target area, but other areas may include the thighs, the underside of the arms, the neck, and the buttocks.
What Are The Benefits Of A Body Lift?
In addition to the cosmetic benefits for our patients in Rochester, a body lift can also be beneficial in terms of health. Rashes, infections, and difficulty in exercising can all result from the loose folds of skin that occur after drastic weight loss. A body lift alleviates these problems as well.
Body Lift Candidates
Candidates for a body lift have typically lost a large amount of weight through gastric- or intestinal-bypass surgery. Some may have lost a lot of weight through changes in nutrition and fitness habits. Also, normal-weight women who have excess skin post-pregnancy can be candidates.
Body Lift Procedure
Your surgeon will perform the body lift procedure at our Rochester facilities. We will schedule the surgery when your weight has stabilized after the most drastic period of weight loss. The body lift may be performed in stages. This will depend on the amount of skin that needs to be removed and the number of areas that need to be tightened.
During the procedure, your doctor will make incisions and remove excess skin in key locations. Then they will pull the remaining skin taut and seal the incisions. Scars will result from a body lift. An experienced plastic surgeon can place the incisions strategically to make the scars as inconspicuous as possible.
If your case is less severe, with loose skin concentrated around the abdomen, the physicians at The Plastic Surgery Group of Rochester recommend tummy tuck rather than the more involved procedure.
Body Lift Before & After
Areas Where A Body Lift Can Be Targeted
Technically, there are three different body lifts: lower body, mid-body, and upper body. The reality is these are merged together depending on the patient’s unique situation. Here are the areas that each can target.
Lower Body Lift
Because extreme weight loss occurs in areas such as the buttocks, hips, and thighs, lower body lifts are the most popular of these procedures. A lower body lift not only removes excess skin, but it also seeks to lift the buttocks to reverse extreme sagging. This adds flattering contours to the patient’s new body.
This procedure takes all of the areas addressed with the lower body lift and moves upward to include the abdominal region. This extension enables our surgeons to create smooth, continuous contours from the abdomen all the way down to the thighs.
Upper Body Lift
Here the arms are contoured with an arm lift, which removes sagging underarm skin and tightens underlying muscles; the breasts are returned to a higher position on the chest with a breast lift.
How Are These Different Lifts Done?
When targeting the mid and lower body, we generally use a combination of a lower body lift and a tummy tuck. Our surgeons start with the long incision from a tummy tuck that runs from hipbone to hipbone, descending downward so the scar can be hidden under a bathing suit or panties. Unlike a tummy tuck, where the incision ends at the hipbones, where the incision continues around the flanks and across the back, where it moves upward in a convex shape. It follows this pattern and joins the incision at the opposite hipbone. A second incision is made even lower, descending from a few inches below the hipbone down to the lower groin and around to the other side. There it drops below the buttocks and joins at the other side. The goal is to remove an entire section of the skin around the entire waist area. Pockets of fat are also removed manually or with liposuction.
We tighten support tissues and muscles as necessary. As is done with a tummy tuck, we bring separated stomach muscles back together in the center of the stomach. This slims the contour. When this is done we connect the two incisions to create a single line that circles the body. On the front, the incision drops below the panty line. On the back, it rises slightly just above the buttocks.
An upper body lift involves an arm lift and a breast lift. In the arm lift, an incision is made from the armpit down to the elbow on the underside of the arm. Underlying muscles are tightened and excess skin trimmed. Liposuction may be used to remove fat pockets. In the breast lift, an anchor-shaped incision is usually made that circles the areola, drops down to the breast crease, and moves outward in both directions along the breast crease. Excess skin is trimmed and the breasts are brought back up to a higher position on the chest. The nipple/areola complex is usually moved upward to match the new position. If the patient wants to add volume (a breast lift does not address volume, only sagging excess skin) we can easily add implants to the breast lift.
How Long Will Results Last?
Although most of the results of your body lift are immediately visible after initial swelling resolves, it can take up to two years to fully realize your new, contoured body. Over this time your muscles adapt to their new positions, your skin tightens down as much as possible, and your scars begin to fade.
What Results Can I Expect From A Body Lift?
You can expect dramatic changes with our body lift procedures at the Plastic Surgery Group of Rochester. The loose sagging skin is gone, replaced by a firm, contoured tissue. If you maintain a healthy weight and incorporate exercise into your life, you’ll enjoy your new body for the rest of your life.
In some cases, after the body adjusts to the surgery or surgeries, it may become apparent that an additional, much smaller procedure, could add further contouring. This may or may not be necessary, but it is a possibility.
Are Body Lifts Painful?
There are very lengthy incisions involved with body lifts, and there will be some pain as they heal. You will have prescription pain medication. You’ll also have swelling and there will be drains placed under the skin at specific locations to drain away any excess blood that may collect.
What Are The Risks Associated With A Body Lift?
These are major surgeries. In some cases, more than a single surgery session will be necessary to address all the sagging skin. All of the risks that are part of any surgery apply to body lifts: poor wound healing, reaction to anesthesia, excessive bleeding, infection, fluid accumulation, and fat necrosis.
Particular to the procedures involved with body lifts, these are the risks:
- Numbness or other changes in sensation due to the muscle and tissue repositioning
- Pain that persists
- Recurrent looseness of areas of skin
- Persistent swelling in the legs
- Skin discoloration and/or prolonged swelling
- Asymmetry of results
- Uneven incision healing
- The possible need for revision surgery
- Development of blood clots
What Is Recovery Like?
Immediately after surgery, patients will experience pain, swelling and bruising. Your doctor will prescribe pain medication. Most patients are hospitalized for up to a week. Typically patients do not return to work for 4 to 6 weeks. We encourage patients to walk postsurgery but must avoid other activities until sufficient healing has occurred. This is usually after 6 to 8 weeks.
Schedule A Consultation
Contact our board-certified plastic surgeons in Rochester if body lift or panniculectomy surgeries are something you’re considering. We can help you choose the procedure that is right for you. Call (585) 922-5840 to schedule a consultation at the Plastic Surgery Group of Rochester.