Body lift surgery, or circumferential lipectomy, is an operation that removes excess flabby skin from the tummy, outer thighs, hips and buttocks. Most commonly this procedure is sought following significant to massive weight loss. Bodylift can also, however, give dramatic aesthetic improvement in middle age even if massive weight loss has not occurred.
Bodylift is far less common than a tummy tuck, which tightens skin only in the front. Relatively recently the importance of skin laxity and collapse of the outer hip, thigh and buttock regions has been recognised. In such cases, just as removing the excess skin and fat from the front of the body (abdominoplasty) makes sense, so does removal of excess skin and fat from the sides and back of the body.BEFORE AND AFTER PHOTOS
Operating Time: 7.5 Hours
Hospital Stay: 4-5 nights
Recovery Time: Approx. 4 weeks
Following massive weight loss which is becoming more common with the growing popularity of bariatric surgery and fitness training drives, a concerning problem of massive skin excess and laxity develops. This problem affects primarily the lower body (abdomen, lateral thighs and buttocks) as well as the inner thighs, arms, breasts and face. Body lift surgery is the most effective way to dramatically deal with the largest problem of the massive weight loss patient, that of skin excess and laxity of the abdomen, lateral thigh and buttock regions.
Body lift surgery is an extension of the abdominoplasty principle to reverse collapse of the whole flabby mid body including abdomen, hips, thighs and buttocks. Because skin tightening and lifting occurs to all these areas, an entire body lift achieves dramatic superior results and return to a youthful figure. The operation is quite large taking around 7 to 8 hours. A hospitalisation of 3 to 5 days is usually required with a recovery period of 4 to 6 weeks. The results achieved for those who are willing to invest the extra time and effort are, however, dramatic.
How is the operation performed?
An incision in a belt like fashion around the front of the lower abdomen, outer thigh region and upper bottom region is made to remove a large amount of loose skin and fat. The operation resembles an abdominoplasty or tummy tuck at the front and is then extended around the sides to the back. Once the loose skin is removed, the remaining skin is tightened dramatically.BEFORE AND AFTER PHOTOS
Body Lift surgery is performed under general anaesthetic and takes approximately 7 to 8 hours. A device called a pain buster is used to minimize discomfort along the wound lines during the hospital stay. Usually 3 to 5 nights are required in hospital.
After the surgery a garment is worn to provide support to the abdomen. This garment is ordered and fitted prior to the operation. It is worn for 6 weeks following surgery. Early mobilisation with walking etc is encouraged.
Stitches are all absorbable and do not need removal.
When can I return to normal activities?
Usually 4 to 6 weeks are required off work although some people require a longer recovery period.
Gentle exercises can be commenced after 3-4 weeks, however, vigorous exercise should be avoided for 6-8 weeks. It may take 2-3 months before returning to completely normal activity.
Are there any risks?
As with any surgical procedure, there is a risk of complications. Surgery and anaesthesia are very safe and it is most unlikely you will experience any difficulty. However, there are areas of potential problems you need to understand before proceeding with your surgery. You can reduce your risk of complications by closely following instructions before and after surgery.
Bleeding: Bleeding can be problematical in about 2% of cases. It is possible in cases bleeding that return to the operating theatre will be necessary and sometimes blood transfusion is required.
Infection: If infection occurs it will usually become evident within one week of surgery and may delay the healing process or result in the development of scar tissue. This may require treatment with antibiotics. In the unlikely event of infection, the ultimate result of the surgery may be adversely affected.
Anaesthesia: The surgery is done under a general anaesthetic and the anaesthetist will be discussing the possible discomforts following anaesthesia. Modern anaesthesia is very safe and risks are rare. Any questions you have regarding your anaesthetic would be best answered by the anaesthetist at the time of surgery.
Scarring: All surgery carries risks and every incision leaves a scar. Scars do however fade remarkably well over a one to two year period and become much less noticeable. The scar of body lifting is never invisible but is placed in a position that is inconspicuous when wearing most clothing or swimming costumes.
The scars will often look red and thickened at about three months after surgery as they heal but this is normal and will settle over the following 3-6 months. It takes 12-18 months before the scars mature completely, flatten out and lighten in colour.
Sensation: Areas of your lower abdomen may be numb for up to six months as bruised nerves are recovering. Some minor residual permanent alteration in sensation may occur.
Fluid Collection: A seroma is a collection of fluid under the skin and fat. If this occurs it may take a few weeks to absorb. Aspiration or sucking out via a needle may be required. Wearing the pressure garment will help reduce this risk.
Circulation: Although rare, there is a risk of clotting in the veins of the legs. The risk of this is about one in 500 and is increased with use of the oral contraceptive pill. Such a thrombosis may rarely be complicated by pulmonary embolism ( a clot going to the lung). All possible precautions are taken to minimize the risks of thrombosis including use of leg compression devices during surgery, use of TED stockings and anti-clotting injections while in hospital.
Important points to remember before proceeding with surgery:
- There can be no absolute guarantee with any surgery. In the hands of any experienced surgeon, a secondary operation to correct an asymmetry or irregularity may be needed.
- Should there be any questions regarding abdominoplasty or body lifting, be sure they are answered in advance by Dr Drielsma. Well meaning friends are not a good source of information. Find out everything before the operation – a well informed patient is a happy one.
- The best candidates for body contouring surgery are those who want to enhance or improve their appearance, not those who seek perfection. You will be satisfied with the results of surgery if you have realistic expectations. It is important that you make the decision to proceed with surgery for yourself, not anyone else.
The next step when considering body lifting surgery is a consultation with Dr Drielsma. You will be shown before and after photos, your suitability for surgery will be assessed and the procedure will be explained fully to you in detail.
**Results may vary for individual to individual