In today's figure conscious society, greater attention is directed to the size and shape of our bodies. In an attempt therefore to control any bodily changes which may occur in this respect, we try to make use of exercise and diet to the best of our abilities. However certain areas of our body, in particular the abdomen, thighs and buttocks, can become stubbornly resistant to any improvements. In some individuals especially those that have undergone massive weight loss the entire lower portion of there body hangs much like skin on a Sharpe puppy.


Surgical procedures can selectively be employed to improve situations in which these problems arise. These operations however are not directed toward weight reduction, which is still primarily a dietary problem. In cases where improvements can not be made despite even the most diligent efforts, a “Lower Body Lift/Total Body Lift” may be appropriate. Such an operation when combined with an abdminoplasty ("tummy tuck") as it is commonly known will tighten the muscles of the abdominal wall and to remove excess skin folds and fatty tissues from the middle and lower abdominal region as well as lift the buttocks and thighs. As such it can dramatically reduce the appearance of a protruding abdomen and lead to a flatter, firmer, tighter stomach and a thinner waist as well bring tightness and shape to the thighs and buttocks.

Before & After photos /slideshow/

Am I a suitable candidate for body lift surgery?

This will be decided at your consultation. During your consultation we will ask you about your general medical history including details about any previous abdominal surgery, or childbirth (where appropriate!). Women who plan to become pregnant imminently should usually postpone the operation until after their family is complete.
If you are a Gastric Banding patient with a port, careful planning of the abdominoplasty portion of the operation must be planned.


If you are a smoker you will be asked to stop smoking well in advance of surgery. Smoking seriously constricts blood vessels and therefore decreases blood flow to a given area resulting in poor healing. Aspirin and certain anti-inflammatory drugs and other medications can cause increased bleeding, so you must avoid these.


A physical examination will determine if you are a candidate for a Body lifting procedure. Body Lifts should not be performed to correct obesity.


Remember to always be open in discussing your expectations at the consultation. We will also be frank with you and together you will work at choosing the procedure that is right for you and which will come closest to achieving the desired result.

The operation

In all Total Body Lifts, you must understand that there is a long incision made circumferentially. We will carefully hide the resulting scar within your bikini line. Depending on the extent of surgery elected, dissection will involve the outer thighs, the inner thighs and the buttocks. This is then combined with an abdominoplasty to deliver dramatic results.


Total Body Lifts are performed under general anesthesia(completely asleep). You will usually require a two night stay in the hospital.


Depending on the technique used, and whether this is combined with any other surgery such as liposuction, it usually takes between 4-5 hours.

After the surgery

Once you've recovered, you will notice a compression garment around your waist, abdomen and thighs. This is to provide compression of the surgical site to reduce the postoperative swelling and bleeding. In addition you will notice the presence of 2-4 tubes or drains which are usually placed under the skin to evacuate any fluid build up following the surgery.
You will find that the abdominal area will be quite uncomfortable and that you will have 1-2 pillows placed behind your knees in order to keep these bent to reduce the tension in your abdominal muscles. Likewise you will need to walk slightly bent forwards once you are up and about, for the first few days. You may gradually straighten up as the days pass.

Potential risks

Whilst it is true that when a Body Lift is performed by a qualified plastic surgeon the risks are small, nonetheless, specific complications with this procedure can and do occur.

Summary

Body lifting is becoming a more popular cosmetic surgery request. It is an excellent solution to difficult situations in which individuals are troubled by redundant abdominal skin, lax muscles, sagging buttocks, thighs and excess fat. Providing one accepts the lengthy scar and recovery period, the results are quite pleasing. The procedure will give confidence to the individual and allow them to wear clothes that were previously unsuitable. The results are “dramatic” and the effects are generally long lasting provided you follow a balanced diet and exercise regularly.

Pain and discomfort are subjective sensations but it is true to say that an body lifting is considered one of the more painful procedures. This is probably more noticeable when standing or and walking in the first few days following surgery. Thus for the first week or so you will need to take regular painkillers in order to minimize this.

After effects

Following surgery you will experience considerable swelling and bruising of the abdomen, thighs and buttocks. The bruising usually lasts about 3 weeks. While most of the swelling will have dissipated by this time, some subtle swelling will still be present for up to 3 months.

Scars

As explained the scar length will be substantial. These normally extend circumferentially within the bikini line. Although all surgeons try to suture the incision as neatly as possible, it is ultimately impossible to predict a scars' eventual appearance. In fact very rarely can these scars be described as hairline. You must understand that due to the normal healing response these always appear red, raised and lumpy in the first few months after surgery, but do tend to settle with time. However it may take up to 18 months to do so. Stretching and prominence of all or parts of the scar however can occur. If necessary, and when deemed appropriate, it may be necessary to revise a scar to try to improve its appearance. This will be discussed at the follow up consultations.

Downtime

Any body lifting operation should be considered major surgery, and should always be respected as such. Therefore you should expect a few weeks to pass before you feel yourself again. Remember variations do occur in the time individuals take to heal. Although many people go back to light work duties by 2 weeks others find it more appropriate to take a further 1-2 weeks to rest. Walking is helpful in the first 3-4 weeks as this improves the circulation and helps reduce the swelling, and the chance of blood clots developing. Heavy lifting or Strenuous activity is prohibited in the first 6 weeks after surgery. Overall common sense rules in the recovery period. If what your doing is uncomfortable then don't do it!


As in any procedure the risk of significant infection is always possible. This is minimized by careful surgical technique and the preventative administration of antibiotics both at the time of surgery and after. However despite these measures mild infection is relatively common and can occur around the incision site, but usually subsides over a period of about 2 weeks.
Risks such as blood clots are rare. Early mobilization by moving around as soon after the surgery as possible reduces this considerably.


As mentioned earlier, swelling should be expected after this operation. When mild or moderate swelling is present, the body rapidly reabsorbs this. Very occasionally, increased bleeding can lead to more significant swelling and the development of a hematoma (a collection of blood under the skin). If this were to happen, surgical drainage to evacuate this would be required. Ultimately however this should not affect the final outcome.


Another possible complication is the formation of a collection of fluid called a "seroma". This fluid is clear and yellow in color. It is seen as a swelling in the lower abdominal region, and many times patients report that they can feel this fluid moving under the skin. It is usually noticed at about 10 days after surgery. The treatment will depend on the amount of fluid present. If this is deemed to be small and is not causing any discomfort, then only a pressure garment is applied and the body reabsorbs this, usually by about a months time. If however the amount of seroma is significant and causes pain or discomfort, then the initial treatment is to draw out this fluid with a needle (called aspiration). Following aspiration the swelling rapidly disappears. If necessary this procedure may be repeated in a weeks time.