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Feel Comfortable in Your Own Skin with Body Lift Surgery


Body lift surgery can improve your body’s shape and tone

By Judy Latta

Have you lost a massive amount of weight but still feel self-conscious because your new, thinner body lacks tone? Significant weight-loss, whether through diet and exercise or surgical procedure, is a major accomplishment, but sometimes it’s not enough to achieve the body you desire. Whereas the skin can generally stretch and tighten naturally with moderate weight fluctuations, its elasticity often breaks down after significant weight loss, leading to sagging and dimpled skin around the core and extremities of the body. To many, the rolls of skin that remain after the hard work of losing weight come as an unexpected disappointment in the face of what was supposed to be a life changing shift in comfort and confidence.

According to the Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center, “Excess skin can make getting dressed a chore, limit mobility, and cause hygiene and medical problems. Chronic skin-on-skin contact can result in rashes and other sores that can lead to infection. Excess skin is also a cosmetic issue. People who have lost a large amount of weight often want their bodies to reflect the new, more positive image they have of themselves.” Hanging skin, unfortunately, can make you look older and heavier than you actually are, and can leave you feeling weighed down, not only physically, but also by the emotional burden of dealing with disappointment.


Body Lifts

To counter these negative effects, body contouring can be an impactful solution. A recent study published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery found that after weight loss, people who get body contouring procedures to remove excess skin and tissue report better quality of life scores than those who don’t get the procedures.

Various strategies exist for improving different parts of the body individually, but when a patient desires comprehensive toning across large sections of the core, a body lift can provide the contouring desired. A body lift is a surgical procedure to remove excess skin and tighten the remaining tissue around a combination of the thighs, hips, buttocks, abdomen, back and/or chest to proportionately reshape the body. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) reports that a body lift is typically done after massive weight loss, but it can also be done to address the physical effects of sun damage, pregnancy, aging and genetic factors.

Depending on the location of the problem areas, patients can undergo a lower, mid, upper or comprehensive body lift. A lower body lift, sometimes called a belt lipectomy, is generally a combination of a tummy tuck, thigh lift and buttock lift to eliminate excess skin and improve the contour in the lower half of the body. A mid-body lift, also known as a corset procedure, slims the waistline by removing loose skin in both the upper and lower abdomen. An upper body lift, sometimes called a back lift, focuses on the back, chest and rib area, and can include a breast lift for female patients.

For patients with significant amounts of excess skin and fat throughout the entire body, a combination of these procedures, known as a full or total body lift, could be the best solution. Body lifts can be paired with contouring procedures for other body parts such as the arms, face and/or neck, and with liposuction to eliminate stubborn pockets of fat, to achieve the desired body contour. In some cases, all components of a body lift can be accomplished in one surgery, but often, for safety reasons, the procedures need to be split up over time.


The Procedure

Body contouring can be performed in an accredited hospital or other surgical facility. Since it is major surgery, intravenous sedation or general anesthesia is administered to keep the patient comfortable. Once the patient is sedated, the surgeon makes incisions in the areas to be contoured; removes excess skin; sometimes extracts fat; tightens the remaining skin, tissues and muscles; heavily sutures the underlying tissue to
support the new contours; and closes the incisions. Since these procedures are undertaken surgically, scars are inevitable, however, incisions are kept as small as possible and are closed at the surface level with tiny stitches or skin adhesives to minimize scarring. Additionally, when possible, the incisions are made in inconspicuous areas of the body, such as below the bikini line or under the arm, so the scarring is camouflaged. While the scars will be permanent, they will eventually fade.

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, following the surgery, there is some discomfort, but it is typically easily controlled with pain medications and should dissipate over a week or two after the surgery. Additionally, a compression garment and special diet may be prescribed. Swelling should subside within a few weeks and clear up completely within a few months.


Are You a Good Candidate for Body Lift Surgery?

According to the ASPS, the following are attributes of good candidates for body lifts:

  • Significant soft tissue looseness in one or multiple body areas
  • Absence of medical conditions that impair healing or increase risk of surgery
  • A positive outlook and realistic goals for what body lift surgery can accomplish
  • Leading a healthy lifestyle with proper nutrition and fitness, including no smoking



The ASPS reports that the average surgeon’s cost for lower body lift surgery is $7,954, according to 2016 statistics; however this cost can vary substantially based on the surgeon’s credentials and experience, specific procedures to be carried out, and the area in which you live. In addition to the surgeon’s cost, there will be costs for anesthesia, the facility and other related expenses. Insurance generally does not cover body lifts since these procedures are considered cosmetic; however, many providers offer payment plans to help make the surgery more affordable.


How to Get Started

If you are interested in exploring options for contouring your body, schedule a consultation with a board-certified surgeon to determine if body lift surgery would be appropriate for achieving your aesthetic goals.  Visit plasticsurgery.org to find a board-certified surgeon in the area.

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