What is a body lift?
A body lift, ‘circumferential lift’, ‘belt lipectomy’ or ‘full body lift’ is an operation designed to rejuvenate the abdominal area and removes excess fat and skin. It is often performed for patients who have lost a lot of weight.
What to expect during your consultation?
The success of the consultation depends on your openness and honesty in relation to what troubles you and your expectations of surgery. You will be asked questions about your health, desires and lifestyle. Different operations can be tailored to your needs and the potential outcomes and the risks and complications will be discussed with you. The full body lift operation removes excess tissue from the abdominal and back/flank area and the type of rejuvenation needs to be tailored to the individual. Various types of body lift procedures are available and may be combined with liposuction. It may involve lifting the whole abdominal skin, repositioning of the belly button and tightening of the abdominal muscles. For patients following significant weight loss, other adjunctive procedures may be required. A consultation regarding the risks and limitations of surgery will help you to choose a procedure that will meet your expectations.
Preparing for full body lift surgery
All body lift procedures require a general anaesthetic. Your health is a prime importance and any cosmetic surgery should be postponed if you are unwell for any reason. It is important that if anything changes with your health that you make contact with us. You should ideally stop smoking 6 weeks prior to surgery and stop taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements before surgery.
You may need preoperative tests prior to surgery, which we will arrange if required. You will generally experience abdominal discomfort following the surgery and should aim to be off work for at least 2 weeks depending on the type of work you do.
Full body lift surgery often takes between 2.5 and 3.5 hours. Usually, an incision is made just above the pubic region and extends from hipbone to hipbone on the front and then extends around the flanks into the buttock cleft. The incision, therefore, goes completely around the body. The position of the incisions depends on where the excess tissue is and depends on what you are trying to achieve. The skin and excess tissue are removed and the internal lining of the body is tightened, Usually, the fascia or lining above the tummy muscles are tightened providing a much firmer abdomen without direct damage to the muscles. This provides an improved abdominal contour. Classically the skin is then stretched down and the excess removed. It is usual to relocate the tummy button through a separate incision. The incisions are closed with dissolvable stitches
and the skin is repositioned. It may be necessary to use drains and it is always necessary to be placed in a compressive dressing.
You will usually return to the ward within an hour following surgery and you will be encouraged to mobilize. You will usually not have a catheter and you will be able to eat, drink and mobilize as soon as the anaesthetic wears off. You will feel swollen and have generalized discomfort that will usually require analgesia. You will be able to go home the next day and should keep the wounds dry for the next week. You should arrange for someone to pick you up following surgery and have some support at home on discharge. You will be reviewed in clinic and the wounds checked at a week. You should avoid excessive straining in the first week and should continue to wear a support garment for 4-6 weeks after surgery. You will be able to resume light exercises after a week and normal exercise by 4-6 weeks. You should begin massage to the scar once healed. The pictures show a patient preop at one week when there is significant bruising and swelling through to the 6 week period where the scars have healed and the result at 6 months.
Risks and Complications
The vast majority of patients are delighted with the procedure although common complaints include numbness, bruising, swelling especially around the scar line and a slight difference between the two sides. Uncommon complications include infection, haematoma, delayed healing/skin necrosis/skin loss, seroma formation and thickened scar. There are uncommon risks of general anaesthesia such as respiratory/cardiac compromise and deep vein thrombosis.
Sensation usually changes following total body lift. Although numbness is uncommon sensation can take a number of months to return.
The scars following body lifting can be red for a number of weeks/months after surgery and it can take some time before the scars start turning pink or purple and then start fading into a white line. It is unusual to develop abnormal scars and unusual to have irregularities requiring a scar revision. Any revisions in the scars should not be considered for at least a year following surgery. The scar is often not symmetrical and the scar can move slightly with time. The abdomen can become lax with time and the result can fluctuate with fluctuations in weight.
Urological, bowel and sexual function may be altered in the immediate postoperative period. It is very uncommon for any long-term functional complications and none have occurred in my practice.
Total body lifting may not address all the excess skin around your trunk and flanks and it may be necessary to perform further surgery at a later date.