Dr. Charlotte Ann Rhee is a Board Certified Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon in Huntington, Long Island NY that specializes in body lift surgery. A body lift, also known as a belt lipectomy, is performed to remove excess skin or fatty tissue on the body that results from age or extreme weight loss. More extensive than just a tummy tuck, the body lift is performed on the lower torso and upper legs and resculpts the abdomen, hips, back, buttocks and outer thighs.
Why Get A Body Lift?
Exercise and a healthy diet cannot always achieve the desired results for people who have loose, sagging skin and uneven contours. Aging, sun damage, cellulite, genetics, pregnancy, and significant fluctuations in weight may contribute to poor tissue elasticity and can result in sagging of the abdomen, buttocks, and thighs. A body lift may help to achieve a firmer, more youthful-looking body.
Candidates For A Body Lift
People who have lost a large amount of weight, either through gastric bypass surgery or intestinal bypass surgery, or change in nutrition and fitness habits, may have excess skin on their bodies and are excellent candidates for a body lift. Other people who are unable to lose 30 or 40 pounds through diet or exercise may also opt for body lift surgeries. A body lift is also an option for normal-weight women who have given birth and want to remove remaining skin and tissue after losing post-pregnancy weight.
How can I prepare for a body lift?
This a major surgical session with Dr. Rhee. As such, you’ll prepare as you would for any surgery by stopping taking any blood thinners, anti-inflammatory medications, and most supplements for a period of one week prior to your surgery. If you smoke, you’ll need to stop for at least two weeks prior to and after your surgery, as smoking can seriously impede healing.
Most of your preparation needs to consider your recovery. These surgeries involve long incisions, especially for the tummy tuck, and you will not be able to lift anything over a few pounds for a period of weeks. Walking upstairs will be out of the question for at least a couple weeks. So, if your bedroom is upstairs, you’ll need to set up a temporary bedroom downstairs. You want to create a really comfortable recovery nest, filled with pillows, blankets, and lots of entertainment. You’ll need to arrange someone to take over your duties around the house for a few weeks. You’ll want to fill all of your prescriptions prior to your surgery. You need to plan for at least two full weeks of being basically bedridden, with some light exercise such as walking.
How soon after giving birth can I get a body lift procedure?
While your loose sagging skin can be depressing, you can’t rush into this surgery after you’ve delivered a child. Your body and your hormones need to settle down and stabilize before you can have a body lift.
In most cases, a period of 6 months to a full year is necessary to allow your body to heal, to enable you to lose all or the vast majority of your baby weight, and to allow your hormones to stabilize and return to their normal levels. It can be tempting when seeing that new pooch on your lower tummy area to rush toward surgery, but waiting is the best course moving forward.
Plus, you need to be absolutely sure you are not going to have any more children.
How soon after a gastric bypass or intestinal bypass can I have body lift surgery?
After weight-loss surgery, your weight will need to have been stable for a period of at least one year. You also shouldn’t need or plan to lose any additional weight. Ideally, a patient should wait two years after having weight-loss surgery to allow the skin to shrink down as much as possible before body lift surgery.
The Body Lift Procedure
The steps of the body lift procedure differ depending on the needs of the patient. In most cases, however, the surgeon will operate on the stomach first, removing excess skin from the belly button to the pubic area and then tightening the abdominal wall muscle. This is the area that is most often loosened by pregnancy or excessive weight loss. The fat and skin from above the belly button is pulled down and sutured in place, and the belly button is pulled out to its normal position.
The procedure continues with the buttocks and thigh areas, with the incisions being made as inconspicuous as possible. In cases that require the removal of fat, liposuction is often involved. The entire body lift procedure takes 3 to 7 hours and is performed under general anesthetic.
How many appointments will I need to complete the body lift procedure?
In some cases, multiple surgeries could be necessary, but Dr. Rhee seeks to handle lower body lifts in a single surgical session. These are involved sessions, taking up to 7 hours, but she is usually able to make this work. This saves patients from having to deal with multiple recovery periods.
There will be other appointments for consultation, planning, and follow-up after your surgery. These can vary, but we’ll discuss these with you during your initial consultation.
What results can a body lift achieve? How long will they last?
A body lift with Dr. Rhee can basically match your skin to your new slimmer contours. This surgery removes the excess sagging skin and stubborn fat deposits. It can repair overly stretched or separated muscles. Our body lift patients are pleased with their firmer, smoother skin, and their overall new look. Gone is the sagging skin and the rashes it can create. These procedures can give a patient a real boost in confidence, making the work of bariatric surgery or involved weight loss all worth it. Of course, you will have scarring at your incision locations, but these will fade with time. Regardless, most patients are more than willing to have the tradeoff of some scarring to be rid of their loose draping skin.
And these are permanent changes. As long as you maintain your new healthy weight, incorporate exercise and better nutrition into your life, and stay as active as possible, you’ll enjoy the results of your body lift for the rest of your life.
Body Lift Recovery
A body lift is a major surgical procedure and requires significant recovery time. Most patients can expect to remain in the hospital for 1 to 3 nights after the operation and can typically return to work in 4 to 6 weeks. Patients are encouraged to walk after the surgery, but to avoid other activities such as exercising until sufficient healing has occurred. This usually takes 6 to 8 weeks. Approximately 75 percent of the swelling goes down after six weeks and 90 percent after about three months.
During recovery, patients should be wearing compression garments in order to reduce swelling and bleeding. For those that want more than the average surgical bra can look to BodyFly. BodyFly is a line of body shaping activewear for patients that are recovering from breast or body surgical procedures. Dr. Rhee founded this company in 2016 to offer patients wardrobe options that incorporate compression benefits with fashion.
Additionally, BodyFly can benefit patients that have not had surgery or are recovered during their regular workouts. Our technology offers moisture wicking fabric, excellent breathability, enhanced circulation and a reduction in soreness which leads to longer stamina while exercising. Let BodyFly enhance your workout while supporting your body. For more information visit here.
What will my scarring be like after a lower body lift?
Your scarring is permanent and will look quite angry at first, but these scars will fade in around 12 months. Dr. Rhee will do all she can to place the incisions where the scars can be hidden under clothing. We will show you some ways to help your incisions heal as well as possible.
Risks And Complications Of A Body Lift
As with every surgical procedure, a body lift has risks and potential complications. These include:
- Fluid accumulating under the skin (seroma)
- Small skin separations
- Reduced sensation in the treated area
- Bleeding (hematoma)
- Blood clots
- Unfavorable scarring
- Skin discoloration
- Recurrent looseness of skin
- Deep vein thrombosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications