What is a body lift?
A body lift improves the shape and tone by removing excess skin and the underlying fat. Excess sagging fat and skin are caused in part by poor tissue elasticity. A complete lower body lift treats the buttocks, abdomen, waist, hips and thighs in one procedure.
Body lifts can be used to treat excess skin, cellulite and sagging fatty tissue. Many people who have achieved significant weight loss (100 pounds or more) due to bariatric surgery (such as gastric bypass or Lap-Band) or through diet and exercise are often left with large amounts of heavy, loose folds of skin around the abdomen, arms, thighs, breasts, buttocks and face.
Skin can sag and lose elasticity as a result of being stretched for a long period of time, and often fails to shrink back to its former size and shape. In addition, excess skin can limit mobility and result in rashes and other sores that may lead to infection.
Plastic surgeons at Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center offer body lifts to help those who have lost a large amount of weight reflect the new, more positive image they have of themselves.
Am I a candidate for a body lift?
Before deciding to undergo body lift surgery, your weight must be relatively stable for at least a year. Women considering future pregnancies should postpone an abdominal body lift since pregnancy may reduce the procedure’s overall results.
Good candidates for body lift surgery include:
- Individuals with significant soft tissue looseness in multiple body areas
- Healthy individuals who do not have medical conditions that can impair healing or increase risk of surgery
- Individuals with a positive outlook and realistic goals for what body lift surgery can achieve
- Individuals committed to leading a healthy lifestyle, including proper nutrition and exercise.
How do I prepare for a body lift?
Preparing for your body lift at Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center will include discussing a number of questions about your health, desires and lifestyle with your plastic surgeon.
To ensure the best results from your body lift procedure, be prepared to discuss:
- Why you want the procedure, your expectations and desired outcome
- The different body lift options available
- Your medical conditions, drug allergies and medical treatments
- Your use of current medications, vitamins, herbal supplements, alcohol, tobacco and drugs.
Your Cleveland Clinic plastic surgeon may also:
- Evaluate your general health and any pre-existing health conditions or risk factors
- Examine and measure your body, including noting detailed measurements and taking photos for your medical record
- Discuss your body lift options and recommend a course of treatment
- Discuss likely expected outcomes of body lift surgery and risks or potential complications.
How is a body lift performed?
Body lift surgery involves making an incision at the waist or slightly below it and removing excess skin and closing the skin under some tension. The incision length and pattern depends on the amount and location of excess skin to be removed. Most commonly, a body lift treats both the abdomen and the back area and is therefore circumferential.
A complete lower body lift treats the buttocks, tummy, waist, hips and thighs in one procedure. A circumferential incision around the body removes an apron of excess skin and fat and repositions and tightens tissue.
Your plastic surgeon may recommend a combination of liposuction and body lift procedures to achieve an improved overall contour. Support sutures deep within the skin help form your newly shaped contours. Overall skin reduction may be done in stages, over a period of years, as often only one or two areas of the body are addressed at one time. Your plastic surgeon will make recommendations about the best strategy to address all of your needs in the safest and most efficient manner.
Body lift procedures are performed under general anesthesia with a one to two night hospital stay. The amount of time it takes to complete the surgery varies widely depending on your individual needs.
What results can I expect?
The results of a body lift procedure are visible almost immediately, but final results may take several months to fully develop depending on your individual needs. While scars will remain, the overall results are long lasting through maintaining a stable weight and exercise.
What is involved in recovery?
Following your body lift procedure, dressings or bandages will be applied to the incisions. A small, thin tube may be temporarily placed under the skin to drain any excess blood or fluid that may collect after the surgery.
Body lift is a major surgical procedure and requires significant recovery time. Pain and discomfort are first managed with intravenous or intramuscular medications, and later with oral pain medication. A specific diet may be encouraged and your plastic surgeon will guide you on how to reduce the risk of complications.
Your plastic surgeon may also provide you with a medical compression garment to wear at all times except while bathing. Surgical dressings are generally removed two days after surgery with showering allowed at that time.
Your post-surgery activities will be restricted until you have had plenty of time to recover. Restrictions may include avoiding exercise and lifting of five pounds or more. Walking is encouraged after surgery; however, further exercise is not recommended until sufficient healing has occurred.
Most people require four to six weeks of recovery time before returning to normal activities, and generally, they should wait from six to eight weeks before exercising. There cannot be any pressure placed on the treated area. Approximately 75 percent of the swelling subsides at six weeks and 90 percent at three months.
Is a body lift safe?
All surgical procedures carry some risk. Because of the significant amount of skin removed during body lift surgery, there are greater associated risks than with standard cosmetic surgery.
- Separation of incision
- Skin laxity (looseness)
- Skin necrosis (tissue death)
- Abnormal scar formation
- Formation of a seroma (a mass or lump caused by fluid buildup in a tissue or organ)
- Asymmetry (unbalanced appearance)
- Unsatisfactory results.
Rare risks include:
- Deep vein thrombosis (blockage caused by restriction in a vein, possibly leading to the formation of a clot)
- Pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lung)
- Myocardial infarction (heart attack)
Side effects include:
Why Choose Us
If you’re considering a body lift, look for a board-certified plastic surgeon with specialized training and significant experience performing body lift surgeries. Consider going to a plastic surgeon who is affiliated with a major medical center, such as Cleveland Clinic. Ask your plastic surgeon about credentials, training and how many body lift procedures he or she has performed.
Is this procedure covered by health insurance?
Like all cosmetic procedures, body lift is not covered by health insurance plans. In rare instances, insurance pays the body lift cost if it’s considered medically necessary. Ask to talk with a financial representative from Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center who can explain the costs of the procedure and payment options.
This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.
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