What is a body lift?

A body lift improves the shape and tone of the underlying tissue that supports fat and skin.

Excess sagging fat and skin are removed and the procedures can improve a dimpled, irregular skin surface, which is commonly known as cellulite.

A body lift may include these areas:

  • Abdominal area: apron of excess skin locally or extending around the sides and into the lower back area
  • Buttocks:  low, flat or shaped unevenly
  • Groin:  may sag into inner thigh
  • Thigh: inner, outer, or posterior thigh, or the thigh’s circumference
  • Arm: sagging of the upper arms
  • Breasts: excess skin, sagging breasts

Aging, sun damage, pregnancy, significant fluctuations in weight, and genetic factors may contribute to poor tissue elasticity that can result in sagging of the abdomen, buttocks and thighs.

What a body lift won’t do

Body lifts are not intended strictly for the removal of excess fat. Liposuction alone can remove excess fat deposits where skin has good elasticity and is able to naturally conform to new body contours.

In cases where skin elasticity is poor, a combination of liposuction and body lift techniques may be recommended.

How do I know if a body lift is right for me?

Body contouring is primarily for people who have been overweight, and had a significant reduction in their weight, leaving excess skin. It is ideal for people who have reached their ideal body weight. If you have experienced massive weight loss, and find yourself limiting your wardrobe choices, feeling inhibited in front in intimate partners or covering up at the beach – and provided you have realistic expectations, body lift surgery might be for you.

In general, body lift candidates include:

  • Individuals with significant soft tissue looseness in one or multiple body areas
  • Healthy individuals without medical conditions that impair healing or increase risk of surgery
  • Individuals with a positive outlook and realistic goals for what body lift surgery can accomplish
  • Non-smokers
  • Individuals committed to leading a healthy lifestyle with proper nutrition and fitness

Body lift surgery is not recommended for people who are morbidly obese.

Preparing for your body lift consultation

During your body lift surgery consultation be prepared to discuss:

  • Your surgical goals
  • Medical conditions, drug allergies and previous medical treatments
  • Current medications, vitamins, herbal supplements, alcohol, tobacco and drug use
  • Previous surgeries

Your body lift surgeon will also:

  • Evaluate your general health status and any pre-existing health conditions or risk factors
  • Examine and measure your body, this may include detailed body measurements
  • Take photographs
  • Discuss your body lift options
  • Recommend a course of treatment
  • Discuss likely outcomes of body lift surgery and any risks or potential complications

Be sure to ask questions. To help, we have prepared a checklist of questions to ask your body lift surgeon that you can take with you to your consultation.

It’s very important to understand all aspects of your body lift procedure. It’s natural to feel some anxiety, whether it’s excitement for your anticipated new look or a bit of preoperative stress. Don’t be shy about discussing these feelings with your plastic surgeon.

Body lift surgery; the procedure

Body lift procedures are surgical procedures and they require extensive incisions. Incision length and pattern depend on the amount and location of excess skin to be removed, as well as surgical judgment.

Advanced techniques usually allow incisions to be placed in strategic locations where they can be hidden by most types of clothing and swimsuits.

Step 1 – Anesthesia

Medications are administered for your comfort during the surgical procedure. The choices include intravenous sedation and general anesthesia. Your doctor will recommend the best choice for you.

Which Brisbane surgeon for body lift Step 2 – The incision

One common technique of complete lower body lift uses incisions similar to a bikini pattern to tighten the abdomen, groin, waist, thigh and buttock in one procedure.

A circumferential incision around the body removes an apron of excess skin and fat and repositions and tightens tissues.

A combination of liposuction and surgical body lifts may be necessary to achieve an improved contour.

Body contouring and lift in BrisbaneStep 3 – Closing the incisions

Deep support sutures within underlying tissues help to form the newly shaped contours. Sutures, skin adhesives, tapes, or clips close the skin incisions.

Step 4 – See the results

The results of a body lift are visible almost immediately. It may take as long as one to two years for the final results to fully develop. Get more information on body lift results.

Body lift scars

Body contouring surgery involves extensive scars, which is why it is important to choose a qualified plastic surgeon, to ensure the best techniques and approach is taken to ensure scars are as minimal as possible. In some cases, scars can be strategically placed to blend in with the body’s natural folds or by clothing. The length of the incision will vary depending upon the location and the amount of fat being removed.

Dr Sharp and his team offer a proven pre and post operative skin optimisation program that supports you in maintaining healthy skin quality throughout, and after, your surgical journey to reducing long term scarring.

How to maintain your results

Healthy nutrition and regular physical activity, including core strength exercises and practicing good posture, are integral to obtaining and maintaining optimal long term results.

Dr David and his team can also medically support your results after body lift surgery, through the non surgical treatments available at his practice, including SculpSure; a revolutionary non surgical fat reduction treatment that reduces stubborn pockets of residual fat by up to 24% in only 25 minutes, while tightening the skin. The treatment is comfortable, quick and has no down time or after-treatment pain.

Contact our experienced clinicians on 3202 4744 to find out more.

Body contouring surgery: recovery

During your body lift surgery recovery, dressings or bandages will be applied to the incisions after the procedure is complete. Small, thin tubes may be temporarily placed under the skin to drain any excess blood that may collect.

You will be given specific instructions that may include how to care for your surgical site(s) following surgery, medications to apply or take orally to aid healing and reduce the risk of infection, specific concerns to look for at the surgical site or in your general health, how to care for your drains, and when to follow up with your plastic surgeon.

Prior to your procedure, Dr Sharp will discuss some common questions he receives regarding what you can expect during your individual recovery period, such as:

  • Where will I be taken after my surgery is complete?
  • What medication will I be given or prescribed after surgery?
  • Will I have dressings/bandages after surgery?
  • When will they be removed?
  • How should I bathe after surgery?
  • Are stitches removed? When?
  • When will the drains be removed?
  • When can I resume normal activity and exercise?
  • When do I return for follow-up care?

Bringing a list of questions along to your initial consultations, and being honest with your surgeon regarding your lifestyle and post-operative plans is integral to having a healthy recovery and good outcome.

Body lift surgery recovery at home

If you experience shortness of breath, chest pains, or unusual heart beats, seek medical attention immediately. Should any of these complications occur, you may require hospitalization and additional treatment.

You will be given specific instructions that may include how to care for your surgical site(s) following surgery, medications to apply or take orally to aid healing and reduce the risk of infection, specific concerns to look for at the surgical site or in your general health, how to care for your drains, and when to follow up with your plastic surgeon.

 

Remember, body lift surgery is not for everyone. It involves a significant recovery period and requires strict adherence to your surgeon’s advice.

How do I choose my surgeon?

Body contouring surgery is safe, and performed frequently by plastic surgeons in Brisbane. However it is a major procedure – and therefore, choosing the right surgeon is of upmost importance. Body contouring surgery should be performed by a qualified plastic surgeon who is registered as a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. You can confirm your surgeon’s credentials here

Dr David Sharp is a qualified plastic surgeon with a special interest in reconstructive and cosmetic plastic surgery. His personalised approach means that you receive plenty of pre operative time with him to discuss your specific body goals and any questions.

It’s normal to feel both nervous, and an excited sense of anticipation, when planning your tummy tuck. Dr Sharp takes the time to ensure you have as many consultations as you require, to ensure your treatment is customised to suit your body and expectations – and address any concerns you may have.

What is an apronectomy?

This is similar to an abdominoplasty, but is usually in the setting of massive weight loss – or post bariatric surgery. It involves the removal of a large apron of fat, called a pannus, which can cause:

  • Skin infections
  • Hygiene problems
  • Impaired function, mobility or movement
  • Chronic dermatitis
Body contouring post pregnancy

Pregnancy brings the greatest of gifts, but it can also take away the body you once had. Rapid weight gain, and then weight loss - as well as the general stretching caused by an expanding stomach and breast feeding, can have an impact on body image, and in some cases, comfort and hygiene.

Post-pregnancy body lift typically involves a combination of abdominoplasty, liposuction and breast lift. However it can include thigh and arm lift surgery as well. Due to the transformational aspects of this procedure, it is important to choose a surgeon that understands your goals, lifestyle and makes you feel informed, supported and respected throughout this journey.

No woman should feel pressured to change her body after having babies; neither by other people or social expectations in general. Everyone’s body recovers at a different pace, and any body that has produced life is beautiful. This procedure simply empowers women to have a choice about how they want their bodies to look, if their new post-baby body sits at odds with how they would like to look or feel.

Dr Sharp has a special interest in post-pregnancy transformations - also known as ‘mummy makeover’ surgery. If you are planning future pregnancies, Dr Sharp recommends that you postpone having a body lift until you think you have completed your family.

Click here to read more about tummy tuck and breast surgery options for restoring body shape and condition.

Does body contouring remove stretch marks?

Body contouring does not correct stretch marks, however some of these might be removed or reduced if they are located on the excess skin that is removed.

Dr Sharp’s clinic offers a range of safe, skin therapies that have been scientifically proven to reduce stretch marks – without surgery, needles or down time. If you are concerned about stretch marks, call 3202 4744.

What kind of anaesthetic will I have?

Body contouring surgery is performed under a full general anaesthetic. A specifically selected range of medications are administered during the surgery to ensure your post-operative comfort. Dr Sharp works with an experienced team of friendly and skilled anesthetists.

Body lift surgery before and after results

The results of body lift surgery are visible almost immediately. However, it may take two years or more for the final results of the body lift procedures to fully develop.

Some visible scars will remain, but the overall results are long lasting, provided that you maintain a stable weight and general fitness. As your body ages, it is natural to lose some firmness.

However, most of your initial improvement should be relatively permanent.

Although good results are expected from your body lift surgery, there is no guarantee. In some situations, it may not be possible to achieve optimal results with a single surgical procedure and another surgery may be necessary.

Following your surgeon’s instructions is essential to the success of your surgery.

It is important that the surgical incisions are not subjected to excessive force, swelling, abrasion, or motion during the time of healing. Your doctor will give you specific instructions on how to care for yourself.

Muscle repair during abdominoplasty

Abdominal wall muscles can become lax or separated due to pregnancy or aging. When toned, the rectus abdominus muscles join to create a flat stomach or ‘six pack’ shape. When repeatedly stretched, they can sometimes sit far apart from where they should ideally meet in the middle (called diastasis or diverication of rectus). This is corrected using permanent stitches, which pulls the muscles together for a firmer abdomen and narrower waist. Sometimes the laxity of the lateral abdominal muscles (obliques) also requires permanent sutures to create an ideal shape (called muscle plication).

Risks and complications

Like any surgery, you must weigh up whether the benefits outway the risks for you. While body contouring surgery is very common, it also carries risks. Your pre-operative consultations with Dr Sharp will enable him to discuss potential complications with you, and help you determine whether the surgery is right for you. Possible complications of body contouring surgery include:

  • Excessive bleeding or haematoma
  • Post operative infection
  • Blood clots, cardiac and pulmonary complications
  • Discoloured or keloid scars
  • Infection
  • Slow or poor wound healing
  • Skin or fat necrosis
  • Loss of the belly button (umbilicus) due to necrosis or infection
  • Numbness or sensory changes around the scar and across the abdomen.
  • Wound separation (dehiscence)
  • Asymmetry (lopsided) appearance to the scarline
  • Persistent pain
  • General anaesthesia risks
  • Swelling or accumulated fluid
  • Skin looseness (especially if further weight loss occurs)

Complications are rare, and Dr Sharp and his team manage each of these risks with the upmost care to further reduce the likelihood of them occurring. In the event they do occur, most can be treated quickly and easily with prompt intervention.

Everyone’s body responds differently to surgery. In some cases, post operative revision surgery might be required.

Some factors, such as weight, lifestyle or health problems can increase the chance of a complication occurring. Dr David will take time to learn about your potential risk factors during your pre operative consultations, and will determine if they are relevant to your surgery.

If you have any concerns regarding your body lift and the associated risks, feel free to book additional pre operative consultations with Dr Sharp.

How much time should I take off work?

You should avoid strenuous activity for up to six weeks. Depending on your work, you could need to take up to a month off work, although many people return to work, particularly if it involves sedentary activity, after 2 weeks.

Benefits of having an abdominoplasty

Obvious benefits include the improved sense of body confidence that comes with having a flatter stomach – and the wider selecting of clothing and swimwear available to suit your new body shape.

The procedure will lead to improved abdominal tone, enhancing the appearance of the abdominal wall muscles.

Functionally, repairing the separation of the rectus abdominis muscles will also result in an increase in core strength.

If your ‘apron’ of skin was hanging over your pants or rubbing on the skin underneath, you will also no longer have to worry about chaffing, skin infections, dermatitis in this region.

Some patients also notice improved abdominal and pelvic muscle fnction, which can help them develop better control over defecation and urination – and help with stress incontinence.

In the long term, patients may also notice a reduction in back pain and improved posture.

How much does body lift surgery cost?

Potential costs include:

  • Dr Sharp’s fee
  • Anaesthetist fee
  • Assistant’s fee
  • Theatre costs
  • Support garments

Under some circumstances, body lift surgery might be classified as medically required, and therefore have a Medicare item number. If so, you might be eligible to claim a rebate from Medicare and your private health fund.

In these cases, after a consultation with Dr Sharp, an application for pre-approval can be lodged with your private fund/Medicare to assist with forward planning your out of pocket expenses.

After your consultation with Dr Sharp, if there’s a possibility that your surgery meets Medicare’s criteria, you will be provided with an item number. We recommend you contact your health insurance provider and ask them if you are covered for plastic surgery, particularly siting the item number provided.

It is important to understand that, in the case of complications or revision surgery, the cost of your body lift might extend to future surgical procedures and hospitalisations. We encourage patients to think about how they would fund further treatment beyond the immediate costs expected.

How long do the results last?

Your result will last forever (or at least as long as you do), provided you generally maintain your operative weight and don’t sustain injuries or undergo further abdominal surgery. Pregnancy and substantial weight gain are the two most common reasons why abdominoplasty results don’t last.

Body lift surgery risks and safety information

The decision to have plastic surgery is extremely personal. You will have to decide if the benefits will achieve your goals and if the risks and potential complications of body lift surgery are acceptable.

Your plastic surgeon and/or staff will explain in detail the risks associated with surgery. You will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the procedure you will undergo and any risks or potential complications.

Possible body lift surgery risks include:

  • Anesthesia risks
  • Bleeding (hematoma)
  • Infection
  • Poor wound healing
  • Fluid accumulation (blood or serum)
  • Numbness or other changes in skin sensation
  • Fatty tissue found deep in the skin might die (fat necrosis)
  • Pain, which may persist
  • Recurrent looseness of skin
  • Persistent swelling in the legs
  • Asymmetries
  • Deep vein thrombosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications
  • Possible need for revisional surgery
  • Skin loss
  • Sutures may spontaneously surface through the skin, become visible or produce irritation and require removal
  • Unfavorable scarring

These risks and others will be fully discussed prior to your consent. It is important that you address all your questions directly with your plastic surgeon.

Body lift: words to know
  • Abdominoplasty: A surgical procedure to correct the apron of excess skin hanging over your abdomen.
  • Circumferential incision: A surgical incision around the body to remove the “belt” of excess skin and fat and additional incisions that may resemble a bikini bottom pattern.
  • Circumferential thigh lift: A surgical procedure to correct sagging of the outer and mid-thigh.
  • General anesthesia: Drugs and/or gases used during an operation to relieve pain and alter consciousness.
  • Hematoma: Blood pooling beneath the skin.
  • Intravenous sedation: Sedatives administered by injection into a vein to help you relax.
  • Liposuction: Also called lipoplasty or suction lipectomy, this procedure vacuums out fat from beneath the skin’s surface to reduce fullness.
  • Local anesthesia: A drug injected directly to the site of an incision during an operation to relieve pain.
  • Lower body lift: Surgical procedure to correct sagging of the abdomen, buttocks, groin and outer thighs.
  • Macerated skin: Excess skin that hangs and becomes wet or infected underneath.
  • Medial thigh lift: A surgical procedure to correct sagging of the inner thigh.
  • Sutures: Stitches used by surgeons to hold skin and tissue together.
  • Tummy tuck: A surgical procedure to correct the apron of excess skin hanging over your abdomen.

Want to see more before and after photos? We respect the discretion and privacy of our patients; while some of our patients kindly agree for us to share their images for other patients' education, many ask us only to share them in clinic. If you would like to see more before and after photos, please contact our office by calling 3202 4744.

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