Lower Body Lift
- Best Candidates:
People who are seeking to eliminate sagging skin in the lower body
- Length of Procedure:
5 to 8 hours
- Procedures in 2015:
8,431 (source: American Society of Plastic Surgeons)
Lower Body Lift
People who have lost a considerable amount of weight can be left with sagging skin in the abdomen and other parts of the lower body. Excess skin in these areas can also be caused by the natural process of aging.
A lower body lift (also called a belt lipectomy) is a surgical procedure to reshape the abdomen, thighs, hips and buttocks by reducing excess skin and fat. The majority of lower body lift patients successfully achieve a slimmer, more youthful contour and an increase in self-confidence.
The procedure information contained in this article will give you a good introduction to lower body lifts. Schedule a consultation with a Top Plastic Surgeon to receive a medical examination and discuss your lower body lift options.
Lower Body Lift Overview
People who have lost a substantial amount of weight after bariatric surgery, following pregnancy or from diet and exercise can experience excess, overly stretched skin on different parts of the body. These changes can also result from the effects of aging as the skin loses thickness and elasticity, underlying support fat thins out and levels of collagen in the skin decrease. This sagging excess skin is not only a cosmetic problem, but can cause chafing and rashes as the skin rubs together.
Flabbiness in the abdomen alone can be treated with a tummy tuck or liposuction. However, a lower body lift (belt lipectomy) is an option when the problem is more circumferential, extending around the body to include the thighs, hips and buttocks. Other names for the procedure include body lift, torsoplasty, circumferential torsoplasty, circumferential panniculectomy and circumferential lipectomy.
Depending on the specific needs of the patient, a lower body lift can involve a tummy tuck, thigh lift, buttock lift and liposuction in a unified approach to eliminate loose skin and excess fat from the lower body and tighten the abdominal muscles. If sagging skin is a problem on other parts of the body, a lower body lift can be combined with a facelift, arm lift, breast augmentation, breast reduction or other cosmetic procedures. These procedures may be performed at the same time or spread out over several months.
Removing sagging skin and excess fat from the lower body can dramatically improve your appearance and provide a boost to your self-esteem. Your torso will appear more slim, smooth and youthful and you will probably feel more comfortable wearing different styles of clothing.
How a Lower Body Lift is Performed
During a lower body lift, incisions are made around the body in a circular pattern just above the pubic area in the front and across the lower back above the buttocks. Other incisions are made on the inner thighs. The tissues in the abdomen are separated from the muscles of the abdominal wall, pulled down, excess skin removed and the remaining skin stitched into place. Sagging skin is reduced in the thighs and buttocks in a similar fashion.
Lower body lift surgery is an extensive procedure and can take up to 8 hours to complete, depending on the details of the surgery. The surgery is usually performed in a hospital and patients can expect to stay 1 to 5 nights in the hospital. General anesthesia is administered to allow you to sleep throughout the procedure.
The best candidates for a lower body lift are people who are in good health and want to restore the appearance of their lower body with tighter skin and an enhanced body contour.
Generally, the best candidates for a lower body lift:
- Are in good health, both physically and mentally.
- Are well-informed about treatment options and have realistic expectations.
- Want to improve their appearance by reducing loose, sagging skin in the abdomen, thighs, hips and buttocks.
- Have achieved a stable weight.
- Are not planning a future pregnancy.
Lower body lifts have grown much more popular in the last few years. More than 8,000 procedures were performed in 2015, a 3,973% jump since 2000, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. This huge increase is a direct result of more people who are choosing body contouring after losing weight through bariatric surgery (extreme weight loss surgery). People left with excess lower body skin because of aging or who have lost weight after pregnancy or by natural means are also good candidates.
People who have had a gastric bypass or other weight loss surgery may be advised wait several months or as long as a year to undergo body contouring to allow the general health issues associated with obesity to improve. Since pregnancy can reverse some of the benefits of a lower body lift, women who may become pregnant in the future may be advised to postpone the procedure until after childbearing.
Liposuction can be used to contour the lower body if excess fat is present and the skin remains tight. However, a lower body lift is the best option if the skin is loose and saggy.
If you believe that you may be a good candidate for a lower body lift, a qualified plastic surgeon can evaluate your circumstances, explain anything about the procedure you don't understand, answer all of your questions and help you decide if the procedure is right for you.
Lower Body Lift Risks
Lower body lifts carry the same risks as any surgery, which include infection, excessive bleeding and complications from the anesthesia. To reduce your risk, carefully follow all of your plastic surgeon's instructions, both before and after the procedure. Contact your surgeon's office immediately if you have any symptoms you believe may indicate a complication.
The most common risks associated with lower body lift surgery (belt lipectomy) include:
- Blood clots
- Excess fluid collection (seroma)
- Pain, swelling or bruising beyond normal levels
- Excessive bleeding
- Numbness (usually temporary)
- Adverse reaction to anesthesia
- Dissatisfaction with results
The scars left by a lower body lift are permanent and noticeable, though they will be concealed beneath your clothes. The scars may be red and uneven for several months, but will eventually flatten out and lighten in color. Your surgeon will make the incisions so that the resulting scars are as discreet as possible. Smokers are at an increased risk of wider scars due to decreased blood flow to the skin and underlying tissues.
Lower Body Lift Costs
The national average surgeon/physician fee for a lower body lift in 2013 was $8,144, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. This figure does not include other costs, such as a facilities charge or anesthesia. You should be provided with complete information on costs and financing options at the initial consultation with your doctor.
The total fee for a lower body lift can vary depending on the region of the country, the extent of the procedure and your specific needs as a patient. As it is considered to be a cosmetic procedure, the cost of a lower body lift is usually not covered by health insurance. In some cases, insurance may cover the procedure if it is deemed to be a medical necessity.
Lower Body Lift Consultation
If you decide that you might benefit from a lower body lift, the first step is to locate a qualified plastic surgeon and schedule a consultation. During this meeting, you will be examined by the doctor and discuss your options in detail. Be sure to ask any questions that you have about lower body lifts and your expectations for the procedure.
The surgeon should fully address all of your questions and offer advice on how to achieve your desired results. He or she should give you the full details of the procedure, including the benefits, risks, costs and recovery time. Be sure to ask for before and after photos of the surgeon's recent lower body lift patients.
Be prepared to discuss your overall health and medical history. Bring a list of any vitamins and medications, both prescription and non-prescription, that you take. The doctor will also ask about existing medical conditions and allergies.
As the consultation concludes, you may wish to schedule your procedure, take some time to think or seek a second opinion. If you decide to proceed with the procedure, your plastic surgeon will provide you with specific instructions on how to prepare for your lower body lift. These instructions will include guidelines for eating, drinking, and medications and vitamins to take or avoid before and after surgery.
Lower Body Lift Recovery
Following lower body lift surgery, most patients will stay in the hospital for 1 to 5 nights. During this time, you will be given intravenous pain medication as well as antibiotics and anti-nausea medication. After being discharged from the hospital, pain will be controlled with oral pain medication.
Patients can expect a significant amount of swelling and bruising after surgery, and some swelling may persist for up to 3 months. Contact your plastic surgeon's office immediately if you experience any severe pain or swelling.
After a lower body lift, you will probably wear a compression garment to help the skin adhere to the underlying tissues. A surgical drain may be used to remove excess fluids that collect at the site of the incisions before being removed within a few days.
The important thing for the first few days after leaving the hospital is to take it easy, get plenty of rest and follow all of your post-operative instructions. Most patients can resume their normal activities and return to work 4 to 6 weeks after a lower body lift. Your surgeon may ask you to begin walking during the first week to prevent blood clots from forming in the legs. More strenuous exercise should be delayed for at least 6 weeks.
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