Also known as a belt lipectomy, the lower body lift is the most common procedure performed for people who have lost massive amounts of weight through bariatric surgery or other means. It is often disappointing to lose a great deal of weight only to find those hard-earned results masked by layers of sagging excess skin throughout the abdomen, thighs, and buttocks. In some cases it can even become a health problem that leads to chafing, skin infections, and mobility issues.
The lower body lift can remedy all of these problems by removing the extra skin from the back, abdomen, buttocks, and thighs. The procedure is extensive since it essentially combines the tummy tuck, buttock lift, and outer thigh lift, but most patients find the results to be well worth it as the surgery uncovers the body you’ve been working hard for.
Your first step in getting rid of that excess skin is a consultation. In this first meeting, Dr. Davidson will listen to your concerns about your body and evaluate the extent of the damage to be repaired. He’ll let you know what is achievable surgically and talk to you about your options to help tailor the procedure to your specific needs.
For example, some patients may not need the full procedure and can skip the buttock portion, while others need to add additional work like an inner thigh lift or additional liposuction. Depending on your body type, you may also need to discuss moving the standard incision site higher or lower.
After you’ve discussed your options, Dr. Davidson will walk you through some necessary precautions like stopping smoking before the surgery in order to facilitate better skin healing. You’ll also want to get a clean bill of health from your primary care physician and make sure you’re at a comfortable and sustainable permanent weight.
The specific incisions will depend on your particular case, but in general you will start off on your stomach or side while an incision is made all the way around your body at the waistline. Dr. Davidson will remove the skin and fat below the incision and tighten up the tissues there. You will then be switched to your back so the front side can be addressed. A tummy tuck will be performed to tighten the skin and correct the position of your belly button, and, depending on your discussions during the consultation, an inner thigh lift may be done with incisions in the groin and inner thighs.
After all of the excess skin has been removed, sutures will be placed in underlying tissues to provide longterm support, and the incisions will be closed in layers over the drains for maximum stability and control of stretching and swelling.
This procedure usually requires one night at hospital. During your stay, you’ll receive skilled nursing care and learn to care for your drains and dressings. After release, you’ll come back for weekly follow-ups until you’ve healed.
Be sure you have someone lined up to help at home since it will take up to 4 weeks before you can manage unrestricted normal activity. You will wear compression garments for about a month to support your healing tissues and control swelling, and you can expect to experience several weeks of bruising as well. The swelling should be completely gone in 2-3 months, and the scars, while permanent, while fade considerably in the first year.
Although a lower body lift is a strenuous procedure, serious complications are rare. Like all surgeries, there is the risk of bleeding, infection, hematoma, and reactions to anesthesia. In addition, many patients experience numbness, tingling, or other changes in sensation for several months post-surgery. In a few cases, some numbness remains for a year or longer. If you are concerned about these or other risks, please bring them up with Dr. Davidson during your consultation.
Lower Bod Lift FAQs
Q. My stomach, thighs, and hips have a lot of stretch marks. Will a lower body lift get rid of them?
A. Yes, partially. A lower body lift will get rid of all of the stretch marks on the excised skin and will make the remaining stretch marks less visible by tightening the skin.
Q. Is there a limit to how much skin can be removed with a lower body lift?
A. It varies depending on the individual patient’s skin characteristics, but in general about four to six inches can be removed at the waist incision. Removing too much skin can place too much tension on the scar, causing it to widen over time. Please see Dr. Davidson for a candid evaluation of what will be achievable in your case.
Q. Is there a chance my skin will shrink back on its own instead of having surgery?
A. Most peoples’ skin will shrink back to some extent, but the amount of shrinking depends on a lot of personal factors such as age, skin elasticity, and the amount of weight lost. You should generally wait at least 3 months after you’re done losing weight to make sure the skin has retracted as much as it will naturally before you get any excess removed.
Q. How long will the results from my lower body lift last?
A. The majority of the results will be permanent. While everyone will experience a bit of additional skin sagging naturally as they age, the excess skin removed during the surgery will be permanently gone. The tightening effects and the fat removal will also be permanent, provided that the patient does not regain significant amounts of weight.
Q. How can I tell if my loose tissue is fat that I can lose with time or excess skin that will need to be surgically removed?
A. It can be very difficult to tell. In most cases, loose skin will feel thinner than fat will, but there are many cases after heavy weight loss where you will have both loose skin and fat together. The best solution is to schedule a consultation with Dr. Davidson so that you can receive an expert evaluation and opinion.