Have you got excess skin? Does it hang down over your belly and sides and/or back? You may need a body lift. Excess skin is an unexpected side effect of weight loss, and can be a huge problem for massive weight loss (MWL) patients. The only way to remove excess skin is to surgically remove it. This procedure/s can be as emotionally draining as the weight loss journey itself. Dr Gavin Sandercoe, Specialist Plastic Surgeon based in Bella Vista in Sydney, NSW, helped us give you all the info you’ll need to better understand what is a Body Lift?
What sort of body lift?
There are many different types of body lifts, and different surgeons may use different techniques for each of these.
Dr Sandercoe says that generally speaking, a “body lift” usually refers to a circumferential body lift – the combination of an abdominoplasty and thigh/butttock lift in a single procedure. Upper body lifts can be added along the bra line at either the front or the back. “Additionally, sometimes a vertical scar is used to help cinch your waist in and remove extra skin in the horizontal dimension. The most common place for the vertical scar is in the midline of your abdomen – when combined with an abdominoplasty, this is referred to as a Fleur De Lys abdominoplasty.”
So your scar pattern depends on where you have sagging skin, fat and tissue. If is it only in specific areas of your body, you may be suitable for a slightly less complicated removal of excess skin. If you have more extensive excess skin around your sides, back, thighs and bum you may require a full or circumferential body lift.
Body lifts can be combined with liposuction to remove any remaining pockets of stubborn fat. Dr Sandercoe says combining too many procedures at once can seem tempting, “But can increase your risk of complications substantially.”
“A body lift is essentially a combination of an abdominoplasty with a lateral thigh & buttock lift. Like many operations, a body lift needs to address several components to achieve the best results. Addressing one component without considering the others is likely to provide a disappointing result. Your skin tone, position of fat, muscle position and tone, and any prior scars will help determine which technique or pattern will give you the best results.”
Can I try liposuction first?
Some patients who may not have had lost a massive amount of weight but have still lost enough to have some loose skin want to know if liposuction alone will help get rid of the fat. Dr Sandercoe explains why liposuction on it’s own may not always be the solution. “Very few patients will have a great result from liposuction only. Without removing any skin damaged by stretch marks, the most likely result is a tummy & thighs that are less fatty but more floppy. It is like wearing an old jacket (or sleeping bag) where the filling has been compressed or worn out, but the layers on either side have not been changed. A body lift is an operation that is designed to remove excess skin”
What about the scars from a body lift?
It really depends on what body lift procedure you have as to where the scars will be located. In most cases surgeons will try to hide them under your bikini line and make them as inconspicuous as possible. Patients need to realise that scars are the trade-off for having the excess skin removed, and creating a tight, smooth shape. Make sure you discuss with your surgeon where your scars will be located, and their expected maturation time. Body lift scars around your abdomen, hips and/or buttocks generally heal quite well especially if you have chosen a qualified, skilled surgeon who knows what they’re doing!
To see some real stories on patients who’ve had body lifts check out the blogs below. If you’d like to know more about Dr Gavin Sandercoe you can check out his website, or if you’d like to arrange a consultation click here.