Following substantial weight loss, the elation of having achieved such a massive goal can be tinged by a feeling of self-consciousness due to the appearance of redundant or excess skin.
Body lift surgery addresses excess skin around the lower trunk, both front and back, elevating the buttocks, lifting the pubic region and lifting the lateral portion of the thighs. It can be combined with a medial or full thigh lift.
In certain circumstances, Mr MacQuillan, together with a consultant colleague, will combine a full lower body lift with a brachioplasty (arm lift) and breast uplift (mastopexy), known as a total body lift, so that post-operative downtime can be reduced.
This surgery is very specialised and requires careful preoperative planning and medical work-up, normally including the use of diet supplements. If you are considering body lift surgery, please make this clear when booking a consultation as extra time will be allowed to cover all the essential points in detail.
3 to 4 hours
1 to 2 nights
6 to 12 weeks
A dramatic improvement will be obvious immediately, but it can take a year for swelling to go and scars to fully heal.
What’s the first thing I should do when considering a body lift?
One of the key things to get right before surgery is undertaken is nutrition. If you have lost a large amount of weight through diet and exercise then this may not affect you to the same degree as those who have had bariatric surgical procedures, but if you have had a gastric band or bypass surgery then there is a significant chance you could be nutritionally depleted. This runs the risk of wound healing problems following surgery (the body will have trouble finding the protein needed to heal so many wounds).
Additionally, if you suffer from diabetes, then making sure that this is optimally controlled prior to any planned procedure will pay dividends when it comes to the time for surgery.
As part of the consultation and pre-operative work-up process, you will probably be required to see one of the consultant physicians with a specialist interest in bariatric surgery patients and a dietary plan will be formulated to ensure that you are as nutritionally healthy as is possible prior to the surgery being performed. As with most things in life proper planning is the key to success.
Are there any post-op considerations?
Following body lift surgery, you will need to stay in hospital for up to four nights and when you are discharged home you will need someone available to look after you and provide care for at least a week afterwards. Your movent will be restricted and you will find bending and lifting difficult. You may also require help with washing and dressing initially.
What can make my life easier post-op?
Like with a thigh lift, there are incisions on the inner aspect of the groin with body lift surgery and often there are scars on the medial aspect of the thighs as well. It can be difficult managing to go to the loo easily following the surgery and practised use of the shewee beforehand is recommended so that afterwards you will minimise the risk of getting dressings soiled with urine.
How long is the recovery period?
The recovery period is variable – some patients need minimal support after the first week or so and others will struggle for quite some time. One of the biggest areas that can be problematic is wound breakdown. Because the body lift surgery results in a large number of wounds that the body needs to heal simultaneously, there is an increased risk of one or more areas or the wounds breaking down. If this were to happen then dressing is required until the healing process is complete (and this can take quite a few weeks).
Additionally, there is the risk of seroma formation at one or more of the surgical sites and these may require repeated drainage. Together with other potential problems (all of which will be discussed in detail at your clinic appointment with Anthony) these can delay the time to complete recovery to varying amounts. A rough guide to recovery time is total wound healing completed by four to six weeks following surgery, with a full return to pre-operative levels of activity at 3 to 4 months.
Have a question?
If you’ve decided to have cosmetic surgery, you now need to choose a surgeon with the appropriate training, skills and experience to carry out your procedure.
It’s important to talk to your surgeon about what you want to change and why.
Anthony specialises in aesthetic surgery; he is registered with BAAPS, a specialist register of Plastic Surgeons maintained by the General Medical Council.
He is nationally acknowledged for providing outstanding medical care and achieving results which meet or exceed patients’ hopes and expectations.
Before & Afters
Insights and info
Discover more below…
If you’ve been sticking to a health and fitness regime, congratulations: you probably feel a lot healthier than you did this time last year. Whether you look or feel any better is another story, however.
When we lose a significant amount of weight – especially when we’re a little older – we may find that our skin has been unable to keep up with our new look. There’s a specific reason for that: over time, our skin naturally loses its ability to snap back into place after it’s been stretched – partly because we lose natural elasticity, partly because it’s been pulled out of shape for too long.
Luckily, there’s a cosmetic solution: body contouring surgery. There are procedures for all parts of the body, from arm lifts and leg contouring to the tummy tuck. But they all pretty much do the same thing: remove any remaining stubborn pockets of fat with liposuction, along with the excess skin, in order to restore a natural, taut contour.
Understandably, there is a lot of work involved on the part of the cosmetic surgeon, but the job ultimately begins with you, the client. Body contouring – and tummy tucks in particular – is not for everyone, and there are certain considerations that have to be taken into account by both patient and surgeon before it is advisable to go ahead with surgery.
Be at your target weight
Although you’ll be removing some fat and excess skin, body contouring operations are not weight loss procedures and it is advisable you are near or at your ideal body weight and have maintained this for some time. Firstly, this is to ensure your initial outcome is the best possible, but it is also to ensure you enjoy your results for many years to come. Further weight loss will potentially leave you with more sagging skin and putting on weight could further weaken abdominal muscles that have been tightened during a tummy tuck.
Recovery: start getting into healthier habits
Recovering from body contouring surgery, such as a tummy tuck, takes time – but the process can be sped up considerably by developing and maintain healthy lifestyle habits before you have the surgery. If you’re already on a healthy diet and exercising regularly, you’ll be in the optimum position to recover more quickly. If you’re still smoking and consuming a lot of alcohol, then cutting down – or even better, out – either or both habits will speed up your recovery enormously.
Nail your recovery plans ASAP
After the procedure, you are going to have to take care of yourself properly, so make sure you’ve mapped out your downtime routine and clear your schedules. If you need time off work, get it cleared as soon as possible so you can rest and recover with no jobs hanging over you.
Don’t be afraid to ask for advice
All surgical procedures are a step into the unknown, and there are a lot of questions that will pop up in the run-up period. Your plastic surgeon should always be happy to address any concerns and they may also be able to put you in touch with past patients who have undergone a similar procedure.
Keep focused on the end results
While there are a lot of things to think about, never forget that this procedure is for your benefit, and the end goal is going to make you look and feel better.
When should you undergo body contouring after extreme weight loss?
Losing a great deal of weight, either through diet and exercise or as a result of bariatric surgery, is a huge accomplishment which should be celebrated and the positive benefits in terms of your health and impact on relationships are manifold. Yet many men and women find that their physical appearance is still very far from satisfactory.
If you’ve lost the weight over a relatively short amount of time and been carrying that excess weight for many years, it’s likely that your skin will fail to shrink as the pounds drop off. Sagging skin in loose folds can be left on the abdomen, arms, legs, back, breasts and even face and this excess skin can cause hygiene and medical problems, limit what you can wear and even limit your mobility.
This is the moment that many turn to body contouring surgery which aims to remove this excess skin, helping you to achieve the body you’ve long dreamt of. There are a whole host of body contouring surgery procedures, from tummy tucks to full body lifts, that can be performed, but the timing has to be right. If you’ve just undergone extreme weight loss, there are three main questions which will need answering before any plastic surgeon will recommend you go ahead with surgery…
Are you capable of maintaining a stable weight?
You’ve already put in enormous work in losing so much weight. But it’s essential that you can demonstrate to you and your surgeon that you can keep that weight off. Any significant weight gains between now and your surgery can have a massively negative impact on the outcome of a tummy tuck. Bottom line: the best tummy tuck candidates should already be at their ideal weight (or as close to it as possible) beforehand.
Are you in general good health?
You don’t have to be in the peak of condition to be suitable for a tummy tuck, but there are a few rules of thumb. If you’ve lost weight via bariatric surgery, it’s essential that you give your body time to reset before embarking on further surgery.
More importantly, it’s essential that you can demonstrate that you’ve switched to a healthier lifestyle and are doing what you need to do to avoid extreme weight gain. You won’t have to diet while you recover from tummy tuck surgery, but you will have to concentrate on eating enough of the right foods.
Do you have a goal – and is it realistic?
In most cases, that goal is simple: you’ve done a lot of work on your body, but there are certain things – a pocket of fat, or skin that refuses to ‘snap’ back into place – and you want a procedure to put that right. You will be left with a degree of scarring as the result of surgery, but the majority of patients are happy to accept this in exchange for the marked improvement in their appearance.
Body contouring surgery has higher risk of complications for smokers than face or breast ops
Research published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal in January 2019 revealed smokers are at a higher risk of suffering complications from cosmetic surgery than non-smokers. More interestingly, the researchers discovered there was a higher risk when cosmetic surgery was carried out on the body, rather than the face or breasts.
Here, we’ll look at the complications smoking can cause during and after surgery on the body, along with what the recent research discovered.
Understanding the new research
The research carried out by the Department of Plastic Surgery at the Vanderbilt University Medical Centre, analysed data from 129,007 patients who underwent cosmetic surgery. The data was provided by the insurance program of CosmetAssure, and around 8.2% of patients were smokers.
It revealed some pretty startling results. Smokers were found to have an increased risk of complications compared to non-smokers. In particular, those who undergo body procedures such as buttock augmentation or a tummy tuck had a 2.9% major complication rate compared to just 1.9% in non-smokers. The most significant risk came from thigh lift surgery, with smoker’s experiencing a 23.8% risk compared to just a 3.6% risk for non-smokers.
It was also discovered that smoking significantly increased the risk of wound infections by as much as 61%. Interestingly, there were no significant differences in the complication rates for breast or facial cosmetic procedures between smokers and non-smokers.
Smoking and tissue necrosis
Smoking has long been known as a risk factor for cosmetic surgery. It can cause a number of complications, with tissue necrosis being one of the most severe.
When surgery is performed, the site needs adequate oxygen levels in order to properly heal. Nicotine, along with carbon monoxide, which is also found in cigarettes, is known to restrict the blood supply. In some cases, this can cause the tissue to die and the part that was operated on will ultimately fall off.
It is worth noting that this is a very rare complication that smokers face. However, the fact that it could happen should be deterrent enough for smokers to avoid surgery until they quit.
Cosmetic surgery shown to help patients quit
Additional research has shown cosmetic surgery can actually help patients to quit. A long-term study showed that out of 42 participants who were smokers, around 40% no longer smoked daily. Almost one-fourth of participants claimed they no longer smoked at all.
This is likely down to the fact that patients are required to stop smoking for two weeks prior to the surgery, and for a set period after surgery. After quitting for a month, it’s much easier for patients to keep it up as the initial side effects have already worn off.
Although quitting smoking certainly isn’t easy, patients are advised to do so prior to undergoing cosmetic surgery. Not only will it help to reduce the risks associated with smoking and surgery, but it will also improve your overall health.