Understanding Belt Lipectomy (Body Lift)
A body lift, also known as a belt lipectomy, is performed to remove excess skin or fatty tissue on the body that results from age or extreme weight loss. More extensive than just a tummy tuck, the body lift is performed on the lower torso and upper legs and resculpts the abdomen, hips, back, buttocks and outer thighs.
Why Get a Body Lift?
Exercise and a healthy diet cannot always achieve the desired results for people who have loose, sagging skin and uneven contours. Aging, sun damage, cellulite, genetics, pregnancy, and significant fluctuations in weight may contribute to poor tissue elasticity and can result in sagging of the abdomen, buttocks, and thighs. A body lift may help to achieve a firmer, more youthful-looking body.
Candidates for Body Lift
People who have lost a large amount of weight, either through gastric bypass surgery or intestinal bypass surgery, or change in nutrition and fitness habits, may have excess skin on their bodies and are excellent candidates for a body lift. Other people who are unable to lose 30 or 40 pounds through diet or exercise may also opt for body lift surgeries. A body lift is also an option for normal-weight women who have given birth and want to remove remaining skin and tissue after losing post-pregnancy weight.
The Body Lift Procedure
The steps of the body lift procedure differ depending on the needs of the patient. In most cases, however, the surgeon will operate on the stomach first, removing excess skin from the belly button to the pubic area and then tightening the abdominal wall muscle. This is the area that is most often loosened by pregnancy or excessive weight loss. The fat and skin from above the belly button is pulled down and sutured in place, and the belly button is pulled out to its normal position.
The procedure continues with the buttocks and thigh areas, with the incisions being made as inconspicuous as possible. In cases that require the removal of fat, liposuction is often involved. The entire body lift procedure takes 3 to 7 hours and is performed under general anesthetic.
A body lift is a major surgical procedure and requires significant recovery time. Most patients can expect to remain in the hospital for 1 to 3 nights after the operation and can typically return to work in 4 to 6 weeks. Patients are encouraged to walk after the surgery, but to avoid other activities such as exercising until sufficient healing has occurred. This usually takes 6 to 8 weeks. Approximately 75 percent of the swelling goes down after six weeks and 90 percent after about three months.
Risks and Complications
As with every surgical procedure, a body lift has risks and potential complications. These include:
- Fluid accumulating under the skin (seroma)
- Small skin separations
- Reduced sensation in the treated area
- Bleeding (hematoma)
- Blood clots
- Unfavorable scarring
- Skin discoloration
- Recurrent looseness of skin
- Deep vein thrombosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications