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Blog / Body / Surgery After Weight Loss / What Is a Body Lift?...

What Is a Body Lift?

October 27th, 2015 Share

There has been a quick, steady increase in requests for all types of body lifts over the last 10 years, and as a plastic surgeon, I have noticed a similar trend here in Toronto. In fact, procedures involving all types of body lifts increased by almost 400% since 2005 at my practice.

There are 2 main reasons for the increase in these types of cosmetic surgery treatments among Yorkville and Toronto patients:

1. The change in mentality of North Americans towards a healthier body weight. Fortunately, the fast-food industry is seeing a decline, and the organic, paleo, vegan and vegetarian movements are all on the rise. More and more people are engaging in outdoor and gym-related activities. We are all discovering the benefits of better nutrition and healthier body weight.

2. The bariatric procedures themselves have become safer and more effective, and they are still evolving today. More and more gastric bypass (Roux-en-Y) procedures are being done, as well as other types of stomach reduction techniques, including the sleeve gastrectomy, the adjustable gastric “LAP-BAND®,” and biliopancreatic diversion procedures.

You might say my own personal interest in performing these fascinating and rewarding plastic surgery procedures with Yorkville and Toronto patients is also driving a marked increase at my practice. My attendance at the Santa Fe meeting on post-weight loss procedures has only further confirmed my enthusiasm for those procedures.

Each of the bariatric treatments discussed has its pros and cons, but all have the effect of a quick loss of weight with some leftover hanging skin. The cardiovascular system will benefit from this weight reduction, but the patient is left with hanging skin everywhere, allowing issues with body image and low self-esteem to persist.

That’s exactly where a board-certified plastic surgeon can help!

The term “body lift” refers to numerous types of lifts, including the lower body lift (aka circumferential belt lipectomy), outer thigh lift, inner thigh lift, buttock lift, arm lift, torsoplasty, and other more common lifts, such as breast lift (mastopexy), neck lift and facelift.

The Lower Body Lift

By far the more powerful lower body procedure is the lower body lift, also called belt lipectomy. It is a combination of a tummy tuck and buttock lift where a “ring” (or doughnut, if you think in 3-D) of tissue is excised at the low waist line and the lower body is lifted up, as one would do to raise his/her pants up. It treats the abdomen, the thighs, the waist, the hips and buttocks in one setting. The results are dramatic: Often, the amount of skin removed can be measure more than 20 to 30 cm! Liposuction is often required after skin removal for contouring, release of outer tight adherent tissue, and the suspension of deep fascia.

After extreme weight loss, many patients desire more volume in the buttock region, so some of the “to-be-discarded” soft tissue can be preserved and repositioned over the buttock muscles. In this sense, it’s an “auto-augmentation” of the buttocks with your own tissue, simulating a buttock implant.

When considering a lower body lift, it is best that the patient’s weight be relatively stable for at least a year. Future pregnancies can also alter the results of a body lift and tummy tuck, so a lower body lift should be postponed if patients do plan on having more children in the future. Smokers are also not candidates for this procedure, and cessation of smoking is mandatory for most types of body lifts. Nicotine reduces the blood vessel caliber and can lead to tissue necrosis. (Nicotine patch and gum are also forbidden.) People with significant medical problems must also be carefully evaluated, as the lower body lift can be a lengthy procedure. Additionally, patients need to commit to a long-term healthy diet and exercise routine.

A lower body lift is a complex procedure, but it produces a very gratifying result. If you’re interested in this treatment, make sure you seek a plastic surgeon who has both the interest and years of experience in these types of procedures, as there are many factors to consider. For example, the planning of the final scar is important. The risks are similar to those of other long procedures: bleeding, bruising, clots, scarring, delayed healing, swelling, etc. Patient safety is paramount, and everything will be done to maximize a healthy recovery. Additionally, medical history is important.

Sometimes, a plastic surgeon will need to stage and perform procedures at different times if it is deemed a safer alternative. The massive weight loss patient must also take into consideration that the skin has lost its elasticity and will never regain the full quality that it once had.

Recovery and cost vary between individuals and will also depend on the exact types of procedures performed. It is commonly advised to plan for a minimum of a 3-week recovery after a lower body lift. A return to normal activities should be gradual, and it can take 4 to 6 weeks after surgery. Drains are commonly used for several days after the operation, and a comfortable compression garment is worn for 4 to 6 weeks. We provide you with 2 such garments at Visage Clinic, so you will always have one to wear and one to spare.

Beyond Lower Body Lifts

Other types of body lifts exist, as well. I have written about facelifts, inner thigh lifts, and arm lifts. Though uncommon, an isolated outer thigh lift can also be performed alone for patients who have more of an outer thigh issue rather than sagging in the buttocks or an abdominal “apron” problem.

One less common procedure is the torsoplasty, which is best for the treatment of upper back rolls, or the extension of the bra rolls. The torsoplasty is often performed in tandem with a breast lift (mastopexy). The resulting scar is circumferential, as well, but in the upper trunk area. The surgeon is careful to create the final scar so it follows the line of the bra and can be hidden. A mastopexy can also be combined with an arm lift.

Again, these post-weight loss procedures are newer, and they are not yet classically taught in plastic surgery school. This makes it even more important to research plastic surgeons carefully. Unless a plastic surgeon has a strong interest in this fascinating and quickly evolving field and has acquired post-graduate training (as I have), most do not have the experience (or interest) to create the best results from these rewarding procedures.

If you’re interested in discussing body lift options together, I encourage you to request a consultation online today.

Dr. Marc DuPéré, Toronto plastic surgeon