The Lower Body Lift is perhaps the fastest growing and most powerful body contouring procedure being performed over the past 5 years. With more and more patients losing massive amounts of weight through either bariatric surgery or simply lifestyle changes, this more aggressive approach to reshaping the entire trunk, front and back, has become necessary to eliminate sagging skin, tighten tissues, and sculpt a balanced, attractive abdomen, back, hips, flanks, and thighs. Lower body lift combines An abdominoplasty on the front and lifting of the hips, thighs, and buttocks on the back along with liposuction to reduce, firm and smooth the entire circumferential trunk and most of the thighs. And the results can be phenomenal.
Lower body lift cosmetic surgery performed by St. Louis plastic surgeon Dr. Jones will not only firm and slim the abdomen and waist, but it will also firm and tighten the lax skin and tissues in the hips, thighs and buttocks areas. Most patients who have gained a lot of weight usually notice that most of the weight is deposited around the central trunk area. Once the extra weight is gone they find not only laxity of the abdomen, but also laxity and sagging skin extending into the thighs, hips, and buttock areas. The lower body lift addresses all of these areas by eliminating excess fat and skin, tightening loose muscles, restoring aesthetic contours, and creating a more enhanced, well-proportioned and fit body shape. There is a reduction in weight, and a dramatic change in measurements and clothing sizes. Patients report feeling healthier, more confident, and having a tremendous boost in self-confidence about their body image. As a result sexual relations improves, making sex more enjoyable for both parties.
Having a lower body lift is a very personal decision, and we want to make sure all of your options are explored and your questions and concerns addressed. The consultation will begin with a complete medical history and exam. You should tell us if you have any history of prior weight loss surgery, abdominal surgery, lipoplasty, or any history of poor scarring. Click here to Request Your Consultation at Genesis Cosmetic Surgery and Laser Center.
Good candidates for lower body lift are patients who have lost weight and have loose skin around the trunk that extends into the hips, thighs, and gluteal areas. Lower body lift is most commonly recommended for those who have lost 40 pounds or more and/or have a lot of skin laxity following pregnancy or large weight loss. You may be a good candidate for lower body lift if you have had the following:
If you are planning to lose an additional significant amount of weight or you may want to become pregnant in the future, you should discuss this with Dr. Jones. You will be asked about the changes you seek, and your exercise and dietary habits. This will help us understand your expectations and determine a plan that best addresses your expectations.
The examination will evaluate the size and shape of your trunk and thighs, the quality of your skin, any scars, and the condition of your stomach muscles. Other treatment options available will be discussed. You can see photos of recent patients before and after surgery. Patient references are available upon request. The estimated costs of the treatment will be explained. Photographs will be taken for your medical record.
Other issues that will be discussed include:
The incision used for a lower body lift produces a permanent, noticeable scar around the entire lower trunk. The scar is placed low on the stomach just above the pubic hair area and extends toward the hip bones. At the hip bone the scar gently curves toward the top of the buttock crease to meet the incision from the other side. The scar placement is determined by where you wear your clothing, and it can be easily hidden by clothing.
Every patient has a different tolerance for discomfort. Our aim is to make your surgery and recovery as pleasant as possible. We use a combination of medications and pain pumps to manage postoperative pain. One of the more recent advances in pain control is the use of pain pumps for breast surgery and body contouring procedures. Pain pumps effectively reduce pain, facilitate recovery, and reduce the need for stronger pain medication, which can potentially cause nausea and constipation.
Lower body lift is considered a cosmetic surgery, and health insurance does not cover any of the costs of the surgery. You will be provided with an estimate that includes the surgeon’s fee, the hospital and anesthesia charges, and any additional anticipated expenses for supplies. Included in your estimate will be a cosmetic surgery insurance policy to cover additional hospital costs in the unusual event in which a medical complication arises in the first 30 days after surgery and it is not covered by your own medical insurance policy.
Patients who undergo body-contouring procedures are generally very pleased to have their body. However, as with any surgical procedure, there are potential risks from anesthesia, bleeding or infection. Fortunately, none of these are very frequent complications. The following are other potential risks of any body lifting procedure, including lower body lifts, tummy tucks, and thigh and buttock lifts:
Seroma–When lift procedures are performed, a potential space is created when the skin and fat is separated from the underlying tissues. To prevent an accumulation of fluid between this potential space, a drain is placed between the skin and the underlying tissue to remove any fluid that would collect and to seal this tissues together. Occasionally, after the drain is removed, the fluid persists. The fluid is usually absorbed by the body, but when it is not, the fluid has to be removed with a needle in the office. On very rare occasions, the fluid accumulation will need to be removed by another small procedure.
Scars–Lift procedures involve incisions. As a result of these incisions, some people make inconspicuous scars while others make more prominent scars. Occasionally, especially in people of color, the scars can be raised and painful; these are known as keloids or hypertrophic scars. There is no way to know if you are one of those people unless you’ve had a past history of this occurring. However, there are several ways to intervene to help prevent and treat prominent scars if they occur.
Unevenness–The goal of lower body lift and any body-shaping procedure is to create the body shape you desire. You may not obtain a perfect contour after one procedure. Repeat touch-up procedures are occasionally needed and an option if necessary. Occasionally, a small ‘touch-up’ with liposuction or additional remove of skin may be needed to even out an area.
Delayed Healing–Patients who smoke or have diabetes have a higher chance of slow wound healing. You should stop smoking six weeks before the procedure and 6 weeks after the procedure. Lower body lifts require an incision completely around the truck, and, occasionally, an area of the incision may separate requiring additional placement of sutures.
Blood clots and pulmonary embolism– During surgery blood clots can form within the veins of the pelvis and legs, causing a condition known as a deep venous thrombosis (DVT). If the blood clot in the vein is unrecognized and not treated, there is the potential for the blood clot to become dislodged and carried into the main blood vessel to the lungs, thus making oxygenation of the blood markedly impaired. This rare complication manifests itself after surgery as shortness of breath or a general sense of illness. If these symptoms occur they should be called immediately to the attention of Dr. Jones. Steps are taken at the time of surgery to prevent blood clots from forming in the first place. The risk of DVT can be reduced by avoiding smoking and by stopping any estrogen containing medicines 2 weeks before the surgery. Compression devices are used on the calves during and after surgery to reduce the formation of blood clots. Occasionally, blood thinners may be used after surgery in patients who are at higher risk for this complication.
Lipoplasty–Lipoplasty, also known as liposuction, can remove stubborn, excess fat, but it does not address the issue of loose skin. When loose skin or cellulite is a significant concern, you want to consider a lift or tuck procedure that removes the excess fat and lax, redundant skin. A lift procedure has a greater capacity to create smoother, tighter skin. Often both lipoplasty and a lift procedure are performed together, or in stages.
Abdominoplasty–An abdominoplasty is appropriate for those patients with excess fat and skin confined to the abdomen. As an alternative to a lower body lift, circumferential liposuction of the trunk along with abdominoplasty will produce the desired results without having to extend the incision completely around the trunk.
Change your lifestyle habits — Proper nutrition along with regular exercise should be part of your postoperative plan. However, it’s important to recognize that exercise cannot tighten loose, sagging skin. Exercise tightens the muscles only. Loose skin requires a lift or tuck procedure.
Lose Weight–Losing weight will change your body shape, but it does not allow you to contour areas where stubborn fat and exist in excess. Exercise is effective in enhancing weight loss and, hence, fat loss from the abdomen, but exercise will not tighten the skin. Loose, sagging skin or skin with stretch marks has to be removed to achieve firm, tightened skin. Lipoplasty or a lift procedure have the ability to permanently eliminate excess fat at specific locations that are resistant to diet and exercise.
The goal of Dr. Jones and the Genesis staff is to make your surgical experience as easy and comfortable for you as possible. You will be asked to stop smoking and avoid certain vitamins and drugs that can cause bleeding, such as aspirin, estrogen, ibuprofen and vitamin E. Additional preoperative instructions and prescriptions to be used postoperatively will be provided. For convenience, we recommend that you have your prescriptions filled several days prior to the procedure. Lower body lift is usually performed with a 2 night hospital stay. Your procedure will be performed in a hospital because the procedure is generally 6-10 hours.
Dr. Jones will see you the day before the procedure and place ink marks on the skin, making sure your swimsuit or panties cover the incisions. You will be given surgical soap to use the night before the surgery. General anesthesia is used. Antibiotics will be administered at the time of surgery. The procedure takes six to ten hours, depending on your size and other procedures being performed. Lipoplasty and breast surgery are commonly combined with this procedure.
Liposuction or lipoplasty, which is usually performed in conjunction with a lower body lift, is performed initially. The lower body lift starts on the back side and finishes on the front side. The incision on the back side is placed in the midline just above the buttock crease and curves gently toward the hip bone where they meet the incisions from the front side. The incisions on the front side are similar to the ones used for abdominoplasty. On the front side the muscle separation is corrected. The excess fat and skin are removed circumferentially around the trunk and the buttocks, thighs, hips, and abdomen are lifted. A new site for the navel is made. Three to five drains are placed under the skin and the incision closed with several layers of dissolvable stitches. At the end, a gauze dressing is placed over the incisions. Following surgery, you will be taken to the recovery area where you will continue to be closely monitored. Pain medications are administered to keep you comfortable. A pain pump placed is used to deliver continuous local anesthetic medication for 4-6 days. Because of the extensive area treated, we have patients stay in the hospital 2 nights. Blood transfusions are occasionally needed.
The day after surgery you will be very sore. You will walk in a stooped over position for the first 7-14 days. You will have prescribed pain medication, and your need for this will become less and less over two weeks. Start your prescribed medicines and supplements the first day after surgery. The third day after surgery, you may start ibuprofen, 600mg every eight hours. You will be seen in the office within the first week to have the drains removed. Repeat visits are routinely scheduled at weeks two and six, six months and one year.
The day after surgery you may take a shower if you wish. The incisions will be covered with tape strips. These should be left in place until they are removed in the office. Once the drains are remove, which can be anywhere from day 4 to day 14, you will be asked to wear a compression garment 24/7 for the next 4-6 weeks to aid in comfort and to facilitate resolution of the swelling.
You can expect to be sore for several weeks. Heavy lifting and activities that require extensive use of the trunk should be avoided for six weeks. You may start to walk immediately after the procedure and increase this as tolerated. Rigorous aerobics or jogging may be resumed after six weeks. You may resume sexual activity in four to six weeks. You may return to work two weeks after surgery at the earliest. Swelling and bruising will gradually resolve over several weeks. The scars may be red or pink for several months, but should gradually improve. Most swelling resolves in six to twelve weeks, but occasionally swelling can persist for up to six months, and it may take this long to see the final results.
It is not uncommon to have numbness of the overlying skin or intermittent, shooting pains. Both of these gradually resolve completely within a few months.
The results of a lower body lift are simply amazing. You have a smaller, more fit, well-proportioned body shape. Your clothes usually don’t fit because they are too big. You feel better about the way you look, and this is reflected in your attitude and behavior. Sexual relationship usually improves as a result of your new self confidence.
Lower body lift does not stop aging or correct the lifestyle habits that contributed to your preoperative body shape. We strongly recommend you have a lifestyle checkup to determine a nutrition and exercise plan that will lead to a long-lasting result and better health.