Significantly overweight individuals who undergo gastric bypass surgery will typically lose at least 60% of their excess body weight in the following 1-2 years. Unfortunately, neither diet nor exercise will eliminate the loose and saggy skin that has been stretched over time. A body lift, or a lower body lift, is a series of procedures that can eliminate loose skin and help restore a more toned figure. The treatment plan typically consists of an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck), outer thigh lift, and buttock lift, but each person’s body lift is tailored to their needs and goals.

Dr. Tiffany McCormack, our board-certified and Stanford-trained plastic surgeon, listens to each patient’s concerns and carefully develops the right surgical plan to restore smoother, sleeker contours in the mid- and lower body after weight loss. If you are interested in having a body lift in the Reno area, contact our state-of-the-art plastic surgery center to schedule a consultation with Dr. McCormack.

What is a Body Lift?

A body lift is a series of surgeries that can remove excess skin and leave your figure looking more firm and toned. While an arm lift, breast lift, and facelift may be recommended following massive weight loss, a body lift typically involves procedures for the lower body such as a thigh lift, buttock lift, and abdominoplasty or liposuction. Individuals who receive a body lift at our facility may need to undergo the various procedures at staged intervals to keep operating times within a safe range. Recovery time will vary based on the extent of your treatment.

What Can a Lower Body Lift Accomplish?

Following massive weight loss, skin wrinkling and a loss of tone can change the body, leaving excessive skin over a large area of the body. A body lift is designed to produce a smoother and leaner contour, usually by removing excess, hanging skin from the arms, abdomen, buttocks, thighs, or waist depending on your needs. In general, a lower body lift can:

  • Remove loose, excess, or crepey skin
  • Reduce stubborn fat in the treated areas
  • Tighten the underlying musculature in affected regions

A body lift not only allows individuals to obtain a slimmer, smoother contour in the treated areas, but also tends to help patients reclaim their confidence. Men and women typically experience significant, long-term results after a body lift, as well as a dramatically improved abdominal area.

Is a Lower Body Lift Right for Me?

If you’ve been left with excess skin and/or hanging tissue after losing weight, a body lift can be an excellent way to redefine the abdomen, arms, thighs, or buttocks. While a consultation with Dr. McCormack is the best way to find out whether a body lift can achieve your goals, good candidates for surgery generally have mild to severe skin laxity (sagging) affecting more than one region of the body. In addition, patients should be healthy enough to undergo surgery and the recovery period. Dr. McCormack will review your medical history and speak with you about your concerns to determine whether a body lift would benefit you. It’s also important to maintain realistic expectations for the outcome, which Dr. McCormack will go into further detail about during your appointment.

What are My Body Lift Treatment Options?

Abdominoplasty After Weight Loss

Large fat deposits or excess, loose skin in the abdominal area may make you a candidate for abdominoplasty. This is a major surgical procedure performed under general anesthesia and entails the removal of excess fat and skin, as well as the tightening of the abdominal muscles. The incision is made low on the abdomen, near the pubic region, so that any scarring is hidden by most underwear and bathing suits.

Abdominoplasty may be an inpatient or outpatient procedure, depending on the extent of the surgery. A full tummy tuck takes between two to four hours depending on the extent of work involved and whether or not it is combined with some degree of liposuction. After the incision is made, the abdominal skin above the umbilicus is lifted. The umbilicus is cut free from this skin and left on its attachment. This is later brought out through a new incision. The abdominal muscles are tightened with heavy sutures to help narrow your waistline. Excess skin and fat are removed and the incision is closed. The pubic area is sometimes flattened as well either by direct fat excision or liposuction. An abdominal binder or compression garment is placed to support the abdomen and help to decrease swelling during your recovery. On average, 3-10 pounds of skin and fat may be removed. Patients require a two to four night stay in a care facility or hospital following this operation.

Arm/Thigh Lift After Weight Loss

In many cases, patients develop hanging tissue in their upper arms (sometimes called “bat wings”) and inner thighs. When this excess skin accumulates in the thighs, patients often struggle with chafing, rashes, and irritation from the redundant tissue rubbing together. Arm and/or thigh lift surgery are highly effective procedures to remove excess skin, fat, and tissue, alleviating uncomfortable symptoms and restoring a smooth, sleek contour. The arm and thigh lift procedures are performed under general anesthesia, usually as outpatient surgeries depending on how many treatments are part of your surgical plan.

Buttock Lift After Weight Loss

If you would like to improve sagging skin or gain improved definition in the buttocks, a buttock lift can be an ideal treatment option to resculpt the backside. During surgery, loose tissue is removed and fat deposits are reduced, if necessary. This can enhance your silhouette and improve the proportions of your entire lower body. Depending on the details of the rest of your treatment plan, a buttock lift is typically performed as an outpatient surgery under general anesthesia.

How is the Body Lift Procedure Performed?

A body lift takes between three to five hours, depending on the extent of work and repositioning required during surgery. Excess skin and fat are removed from the abdomen, waist, thighs, and buttocks. The abdominal wall muscles are tightened to help narrow the waist and firm the abdominal wall. In some cases, liposuction is utilized in the body lift to improve contour. As with the abdominoplasty, the umbilicus is brought out through a new incision after the excess skin is removed from the abdomen.

Drain tubes are placed under the skin to minimize fluid accumulation after the operation. These are left in place approximately one to four weeks after surgery. Dissolvable skin sutures are carefully placed for skin closure. Patients are placed in a binder or a compression garment for post-operative comfort and to help minimize swelling. Dr. McCormack may require that you take a special blood thinning medication for a few days before and after your surgery to help prevent the formation of blood clots in the legs (DVT).

What Can I Expect During the Recovery Period After a Lower Body Lift?

Because the procedure is rather extensive, patients often take several weeks to recover from a body lift. Reno residents and those of the surrounding areas who undergo the procedure will find Dr. McCormack and our staff available to address any post-op concerns. Following the surgery, you may shower once the drain tubes have been removed. You will be discharged from the hospital or care facility after two to four days. It is necessary to have someone with you to drive you home and stay with you during your first 24 hours. Out-of-town patients should plan to stay locally for approximately two weeks.

Discomfort during the first few days is controlled with pain medication. You will be swollen in certain areas for some time. Generally, 75 percent of the swelling is gone at six weeks. The remaining swelling may take up to six months to one year to resolve. It is important that you start walking as soon as possible during your recovery. This helps prevent blood clots in your legs and helps to keep your lungs open. Drain tubes are left in place for approximately one to four weeks after surgery.

Employment involving desk work may be resumed two to three weeks following surgery. If your work involves prolonged standing, heavy lifting or vigorous activity you are advised to wait six weeks before returning. Vigorous exercise should not be resumed until after six weeks. Heavy lifting, aerobic activity, and vigorous exercise should be avoided for six to eight weeks. Lifting should be limited to fifteen to twenty pounds during the first six weeks. Temporary numbness is common and may become permanent in some cases. You will feel like you need to be flexed at the waist for a few days after surgery. With time, you will be able to stand upright again.

What Will My Lower Body Lift Scars Look Like?

The scars will begin to fade two to three months after surgery. Although they never disappear completely, the scars will become considerably less visible over the next one to two years. Abdominoplasty surgery will result in scarring of the lower abdomen, which is not noticeable under clothing and will eventually fade. The incision required for this procedure is placed very low on the abdomen, near the pubic region. It continues across the sides and along the lower back. This scar is hidden by most underwear and bikini swimsuits. Over time, scarring begins to fade two to three months after surgery and may take one to two years to reach its final appearance.

If you have undergone massive weight loss and are interested in learning more about a body lift, abdominoplasty, or any other body contouring options at our practice, please contact McCormack Plastic Surgery to schedule a consultation with our board-certified plastic surgeon.