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Body Lift

January 19, 2012

Written by: Christine G. Adamo

What is a Body Lift?

When diet and exercise don’t deliver a well-toned body, a body lift may help.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons states that the goal of a body lift is to improve “the shape and tone of the underlying tissue that supports fat and skin”. This body contouring procedure generally involves the removal of droopy, excess skin which results from massive weight loss and/or poor skin or tissue elasticity and/or fat removal.

The results of a body lift can last a lifetime and are quickly noticeable. They even improve with time as the body continues to heal. Various procedures are used during body lift surgery or compliment this procedure. They include:
  • Thigh Lift
  • Liposuction
  • Upper Arm Lift
  • Lower Body Lift
  • Breast lift or Mastopexy
  • Tummy Tuck or Abdominoplasty
The ASPS’s “Report of the 2010 Plastic Surgery Statistics” shows that the number of body contouring procedures being performed – especially on patients who’ve achieved massive weight loss – has been on the rise in recent years. In 2009, nearly 49,000 related procedures were performed. In 2010, that number jumped to 52,603.

Body Lift Basics

Loose, saggy skin and less-than-ideal contours are not uncommon. As we reach a certain age, experience pregnancy, lose and/or regain weight our bodies sometimes have trouble bouncing back. Daily habits and genetics also affect skin/tissue elasticity.

But sagging along the abdomen, buttocks, thighs and upper arms can be corrected. Anyone in search of a more youthful, firmer physique with proportionate contours may benefit from body lift surgery.

Areas of the body which are typically the focus of body lift surgery include:
  • Buttocks – to raise, plump &/or reshape an uneven backside
  • Thighs – to recontour the inner, outer, posterior &/or full thigh area
  • Abdominal Area – to remove excess skin at front, sides &/or lower back
  • Between the Legs – to reduce sagging which encroaches on the inner thigh
While liposuction (a.k.a. lipoplasty) may accompany body lift surgery, it is not a component of this body contouring procedure. It is instead used to compliment a body lift by removing excess fat, which is not the primary goal of body lift surgery itself.

The Body Lift / Body Contouring Process

If you believe you would benefit from a body lift, start by scheduling a consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon. Be sure that doctor is qualified to perform this procedure, is experienced and is highly knowledgeable.

One way to get a realistic “picture” of what your body might look like after body lift surgery (and determine a surgeon’s skill level) is to ask for proof of prior patient outcomes. This should include tummy tuck photos, photos of related procedures (breast lift, arm lift, thigh lift, etc.) and – while you’re at it – liposuction before and after photos.

After having all of your questions answered, you may decide that a body lift is right for you. If so, this is what you can expect next:
  • Examination – to determine which procedures best suit your body
  • Preparation – examples include blood work, EKGs, smoking cessation, etc.
  • Scheduling – you’ll receive a surgery date, time, location & prep instructions
  • Sedation – prior to surgery, you’ll be given general anesthesia or IV sedation
  • Surgery – this includes incisions, excess skin removal & suturing/bandaging
  • Recovery – your individual recovery time & post-op restrictions will be unique
Your doctor’s focus should always be on identifying the procedures, preparation steps and post-op instructions which satisfy your individual needs and lifestyle. This includes type of procedure (complete lower lift, medial thigh lift, body lift with liposuction, etc.), choice of anesthesia, incision length and location and more.

How Much Does a Body Lift Cost?

Undergoing body lift surgery is a major decision. Relieve yourself of some of the emotional pressure by making a list of reasons it would benefit you. This may help you approach the decision more objectively. What will you gain? How will you feel?

Cost may also be a factor worth considering. As an elective surgery (one that’s chosen rather than considered medically necessary), a body lift is not typically covered by health insurance, though some surgeons offer in-house financing. This investment in your well-being may cost $10-15 thousand or more, so do the math ahead of time.

Request estimates from multiple surgeons. Be sure every possible expense is identified. Look for entries such as tummy tuck cost, liposuction cost, surgeon’s fee, medical tests and costs associated with sedation, hospitalization, etc. Then, make a comparison. Prices vary, but being able to arrive at an average cost may put things in perspective.

In the end, choosing the right plastic surgeon for you shouldn’t be influenced by dollar signs. Experience, quality of care and your level of comfort are priceless. Focus on your personal needs, goals and safety and you’re bound to make the best decision possible.

Potential Risks & How You Can Avoid Them

When properly performed, a body lift should make you look and feel great. But, all surgeries pose risks and can result in side effects. While the risks and side effects associated with body lift and body contouring surgeries are uncommon, they include:
  • Visible scarring
  • Delayed healing or infection
  • Numbness or reduced sensitivity
  • Redness, pain, swelling, bruising or soreness
  • Asymmetry, wound separation or skin looseness
  • Bleeding, fluid accumulation, blood clots or fat necrosis
  • Deep vein thrombosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications
Contact your health care professional if you experience these symptoms after surgery.

Making the Most of Your Body Lift

The benefits of a body lift are quickly visible and immensely gratifying.

Minimize your risk by working with a surgeon who’s committed to safeguarding your health by using up-to-date and proven techniques. Carefully follow your doctor’s instructions for preparation and post-op recovery.

As your body continues to heal, the results will only get better. Make the most of your “new” body by maintaining a healthy weight and fitness routine after surgery. If you do, the positive results can last a lifetime. 

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