Skin tends to droop as it ages. The proteins - elastin and collagen produced for firming and toning up of the skin stops over the years. In this process, it is the lower half of the body that bears the brunt of the effects of gravity. In fact many find that weight loss occurs in areas such as buttocks, hips and thighs. Severe weight loss produces excess skin that can cause chafing and discomfort.
Lower body lift is part of the general area in cosmetic surgery and is called body contouring. Excess amounts of fat and skin tissues are removed and buttocks, thighs and hips successfully tightened leaving smoother younger looking skin.
Records reveal that the first ever body lifting operations began in Brazil and France in the 1960s and 1970s. In the US while in 2001 around 4000 lower body lift procedures were performed, in 2004 this has grown about 43 times more.
As such, body lift surgeries are quite effective for patients with significantly excess amount of skin resulting from heavy weight loss. Patients undergo lower, mid and upper body lifts depending upon the location of the excess fat and skin.
Types of body lift surgery
The type of body lift depends upon the location of the excess fat and skin in the body. Aesthetic goals are also considered by the plastic surgeon. Either a specific part of the body that commonly accumulates fat and surplus skin such as arms, breast, buttocks, abdomen, thighs or hips or a larger area is chosen for the operational procedure. This part is recontoured and smooth, trim and younger appearance is created.
Complete or total body lifts can help create a new hour glass figure. However, recovery from a total body lift involves much more than small scale body lift techniques. It would take extended recovery period to rejuvenate after massive weight loss, even up to a period of six weeks or more. Many patients feel satisfied after the swelling comes down and the scars begins to fade after a period of time.
Branchioplasty or arm lift which involves incision along the armpit and inside surface of the arm. Excess fat is removed and excess skin trimmed away through liposuction procedure.
Medial thighplasty or inner thigh lift is a procedure to remove excess fat and skin hanging from upper, inner thigh through strategic incision at the junction of the thigh with the groin. For individuals with severe thigh contour problems, further incisions are made extending from groin area to the inside of the thigh up to the knee. After suturing, dressings are applied to the incision area and compression garment which may be required for several weeks after surgery placed.
A total body lift surgery could typically cost anywhere between $10000 and $ 17000 and can go up to even $ 50000 depending upon the extent of treatment undertaken.
Lower body lift surgery
A lower body lift can be construed as a specialized type of 'tummy tuck'. It is a medical procedure whereby an incision is made in the lower torso allowing re-suspension of the lateral and anterior thighs with the traditional tummy tuck improvements.
Excess fat and skin are removed from the lower parts of the body by surgical procedure. The surgeon typically makes strategically placed incisions around the belt line of the waist across the lower abdomen and down the inner thighs. After removing the excess fat and skin, the body is sculpted by lifting, tightening and shaping the skin. The incisions are closed and bandaged. Normally the lower body lift surgery is accompanied by abdominoplasty or a mid body lift.
This surgery is quite extensive. While the traditional lower body lift targeted the upper thighs and the buttocks and abdomen, it is ideal to remove the redundant skin the one can feel hanging around the lower torso, especially after severe weight loss.
The surgery typically takes about five to eight hours and the procedure requires time off work. It is mandatory to have close post operative supervision.
Belt lift, as the very name suggests is a plastic surgery procedure for sculpting the area where a belt would rest.
Belt lipectomy involves circumferential incision around the waist and back. The results are dramatic and long lasting with a healthy post operative lift style.
Thong lift is removal of excess skin and fat from buttocks and surrounding areas. The area is subsequently reshaped and designed to appear more attractive.
Lateral tension lift is performed in the waist and nearby areas of the body. Unwanted tissues are removed and the body is transformed into a more desirable shape.
Torsoplasty is an extended version of tummy tuck and is frequently combined with other plastic surgery procedures including liposuction. Circumferential Torsoplasty involves a circular incision around the body used to access unwanted excess fat tissue and skin.
Circumferential panniculectomy is used to surgically remove excess fat and skin from the lower abdomen of obese patients. This procedure is undertaken after he/she has lost massive amount of weight and wishes to remove the extra skin that has lost its elasticity.
Circumferential lipectomy removes excess fat and skin from the patient's body which is reshaped to a more desirable form.
Who can undergo body lift surgery?
Patients who desire to undergo body lift surgery should be in relatively good health. He/she should have loose lower body skin and fat that will not be alleviated through exercise and dieting normally produced due to pregnancy and aging. The patient should also fully understand the benefits that plastic surgery can provide and its inherent limitations.
Women who plan to bear children are advised to postpone such treatments until after childbearing. Normal weight women in their thirties and forties can opt for such body lift surgery to remove excess skin and fat tissues and post pregnancy weight.
Buttock lift or butt lift surgery is more often done to improve the tautness and tone of the skin on the buttocks to make it 'perkier'. This is relatively a new procedure and is performed as a solo procedure or as part of total body lift.
Two methods are followed for butt lift operation. One is to remove the excess skin and tighten the skin above the upper part of the buttock. If the buttocks are too large, the patient may benefit from liposuction to reduce the size of the buttock. The other is to lift the buttock through fat injections and implants. This is done to enlarge the size of the buttock. This procedure is referred to as 'Brazilian butt lift'. If the buttocks are sagging and the patient does not want an augmentation, the excess tissue is removed, the butt is lifted and the skin tightened. In case the sag is minimal, a 'butt wedge' excision is indicated.
Patients are advised not to sit at least for one week and stress the operated area. Bruises and swelling subside within a month and patient can resume strenuous activity by three months. The total cost for a butt lift ranges from $ 5000 to $ 13000 depending upon the type of lift opted.
It is common for women to undergo thigh lift surgery or thighplasty as fat tends to accumulate on their bodies. Thighs harbor loose, sagging and excess skin and the dreaded cellulite. For some women the inner thighs tend to rub against each other when they walk and cause irritation and discomfort. Although diet and exercise could help lose fat, the inner thighs are difficult area of the body to lose weight.
There are different types of thigh lifts employed that target specific areas for best results.
The inner thigh lift targets the inner thigh as its very name indicates. This is for those who are unable to eradicate excess fat through diet and exercise. Skin elasticity which could be caused by aging process gets reduced. An incision is made at the junction of the thigh and public area. Fat and skin are removed and the leg contour is enhanced with skin elasticity.
Bilateral thigh lift: This procedure is designed to tighten the skin on the outside of the leg. The surgeon makes the incision at the top of the leg on the lower edge of say a bikini bottom. After removing the skin hanging the remaining skin is pulled up and tightened along both the right and left side of the leg. This surgery is performed on those who suffer excess skin after extreme weight loss.
A medial thigh lift reduces the excess skin and fat on the upper portion of the inner thigh. An incision is made in the groin that goes to the back of the crease of the buttock. Patients who desire a perfect shapely pair of legs undergo this surgery.
A thigh lift could cost anywhere from $ 2000 to $ 8000 depending upon the amount of fat and excess skin to be removed.
Post Body lift surgery
Body lift, lower body lift, butt lift or thigh lift surgeries are major procedures and their recovery time is significant. In most patients, pain and discomfort are managed by intravenous and intramuscular medications and later by oral pain medications.
Specific dietary plan is chalked out for the patients to reduce risk of complications. Certain drainage tubes which may be inserted during the procedure require personal home care for up to two weeks and they have to be safely removed when the output of drainage fluid is low.
Medical compression garment is provided to the patients by the doctor and they need to be worn all times except while bathing. The doctor informs the duration for wearing these garments. Dressings are removed a couple of days after surgery.
Patients are recommended to restrict post surgery activities till adequate recovery. Strenuous activities including exercise and weight lifting should be avoided until sufficient healing has occurred. Walking is however encouraged after surgery.
Complications and risks involved in body lift surgeries
It should be well understood that as such all forms of surgeries have a level of uncertainty and are prone to risk. Lower body lift operations and plastic surgeries for body lift are no exception.
Probably the most common body lift complications include seromas or fluid accumulation under the skin. The surgeon should help resolve this issue. Some patients may experience a reduced sensation in the treated area which can become permanent. Infection, bleeding and blood clots can also occur.
The abdominal scar will appear to worsen during the first couple of weeks and it can take up to eighteen months before they flatten and the color lightens. Although scars may not completely disappear, they could be hidden by clothing.