A body lift, or belt lipectomy, is a procedure that helps to remove excess body fat and skin that is left hanging after a dramatic weight loss. Most of our patients who undergo a body lift have had gastric bypass surgery to help them get to a healthy weight. Unfortunately, once they have reached their goal weight they are left with the skin that once fit around their formerly larger body. This can be extremely discouraging to patients because they are a smaller size now but still do not feel comfortable in their own skin. Wearing clothing that exposes skin can be terribly embarrassing for them. Additionally, exercise can be impeded due to the extra skin and fatty tissue that hangs in all the wrong places. They experience rashes, skin infections, and extreme discomfort from chafing of the skin that occurs during activities such as walking.
The procedure to remove extra skin on the arms, breasts, legs/thighs, buttocks, groin (inner thigh) and abdomen is collectively referred to as a body lift. It effectively “lifts” the entire body, tightening up the skin by removing the excess tissue and restoring a more normal appearance. Patients can lose several pounds of skin and fat as well as several clothing sizes during the body lift procedure.
How is the body lift procedure done?
The patient must be put under general anesthesia for the body lift procedure. An anesthesiologist (medical doctor who specializes in anesthesia) will administer the general anesthesia and monitor the patient during the surgery. Vitals including blood pressure, blood oxygen levels, heart rate, and respiration are all carefully observed. Once the patient is stabilized, the actual surgery can begin. At the discretion of the cosmetic surgeon, they may or may not also perform laser liposuction (using SmartLipo) in addition to physically cutting away and removing the extra skin on the patient.
The arm lift is performed by marking the areas that are to be cut away with a felt tip marker. Again, many times the plastic surgeon will perform liposuction prior to cutting away the extra skin. This thins it out and prepares the area so that only a thin layer of skin is left when the surgeon does the actual cutting. The section of excess skin will then be cut away with a scalpel and removed. The arms are closed up and wrapped with a flexible fabric bandage to aid in healing.
Next, the surgeon moves down the body to the breasts. In both men and women who have lost a great deal of weight, a breast lift is often times in order. Liposuction is often times used for the breast lift in male patients and then the incisions are made to help the surgeon tighten up the remaining skin and reposition the nipple higher up on the chest. This results in a trim contour that is flattering for the male physique. If you are a male patient looking for more information about how to have male breast reduction surgery, click here. On the other hand, with female patients liposuction of the breasts is not appropriate for obvious reasons. The breast tissue is instead left intact and a keyhole incision is made around the areola (outer rim of the nipple) and down to the crease of the breast. This allows the doctor to cut out the excess skin and lift the breast up to a more youthful position.
Abdomen (Panniculectomy), Hips, Buttocks
The abdomen can be a major area of concern for both male and female patients. Major weight loss can leave what is called a panniculus (pannus), or pendulum-like flap of skin, hanging from the belly button area to below the genital area. The flap of skin moves freely and can cause discomfort as well as significantly limit physical activity. An accumulation of moisture and bacteria can occur between the flap of skin and the abdomen due to moisture being trapped. This can create offensive odors underneath the flap; rashes or open wounds can result from friction and can harbor fungal or bacterial infections (panniculitis). The safest approach is to have the panniculus removed. This is done by cutting away a strip of skin and fat from one hip to the other in a shape that most resembles a belt. The portion of skin and fat that once hung over the genitals is cut away so that when the two ends of skin are joined together, they form a normal abdominal contour. If a patient has excessive tissue in the hips, the abdominal flap of skin can be extended around the back of the body so that the entire midsection and buttocks are lifted up.
Next, the thighs can be tightened up and lifted. The incisions that are made to lift the thighs generally are made in the groin area, following the natural curves of the inner leg around the genital area. If a lift alone will not resolve the amount of excessive skin on the patient’s thighs, an additional vertical incision will be made along the inner thigh to allow the surgeon to remove the excess skin and tighten up the thighs. This will allow the patient to fit into pants and shorts without the hassle and discomfort of extra skin getting in the way. It is vital that patients do not smoke prior to surgery (nicotine restricts blood flow to the skin, hindering the healing process) and that they continue with a healthy lifestyle of eating well and exercising. This will ensure that their results last a very long time.
SmartLipo laser liposuction can be the perfect complement to a body lift procedure. When you come in for a free consultation, we will discuss this option with you and find out what areas of your body bother you the most. Feel free to browse our laser liposuction using SmartLipo information page. Based on your areas of concern, we will tailor a personalized body sculpting plan to meet your needs and give you the results you want. As with any surgical procedure, there are risks involved which will be discussed during your consultation.