A body lift, also known as a belt lipectomy, is like a facelift for the center of the body. Other terms for body lift include torsoplasty, circumferential torsoplasty, central body lift, lower body lift, circumferential panniculectomy and circumferential lipectomy.
The procedure is performed to remove the excess skin or fatty tissue that exists on the body as a result of age or extreme weight loss. More extensive than the tummy tuck, the body lift is performed on the lower torso and upper legs, and involves the belly, hips, back, buttocks and outer thighs.
Although the steps of the body lift procedure differ depending on the needs of the patient, doctors often perform surgery on the stomach first, removing excess skin from the belly button to the pubic area and then tightening the abdominal wall muscle. This is the area that is most often loosened by pregnancy or weight loss. The fat and skin from above the belly button is pulled down and sutured in place, and the belly button is pulled out to its normal position.
The procedure continues with the rest of the body parts, and often involves liposuction on the outer thighs. In all, a body lift surgery can take anywhere between 3 and 7 hours.
Recovery from a body lift can be painful and extended. Patients typically have tubes and drains left in their skin for one to two weeks post-surgery to drain any tissue fluid or blood. They are encouraged to walk right away, and progressively move more as days pass. Most patients resume normal activity four to six weeks after a body lift surgery.
Are You a Good Candidate for a Body Lift?
There are several groups of candidates for the extensive surgery involved in a body lift. The first group includes people who have lost a great amount of weight, either through gastric bypass surgery, intestinal bypass surgery or a change in nutrition and fitness habits. These individuals have lost between 60 and 350 pounds, but are left with excess skin on their faces, breasts, backs, trunks and thighs.
People who are not able to lose 30 or 40 pounds through diet or exercise also may opt for body lift surgeries.
Normal-weight women in their 30s and 40s, often many years past giving birth, also opt for body lift surgery to remove remaining post-baby weight and additional weight that comes naturally with age.
Some people also select body lift surgeries to correct overly aggressive liposuction surgeries.
Many people who have lost a lot of weight need plastic surgery to their entire bodies, including their arms and face, in order to attain normal body contours. For others, body lifts are preferable to tummy tucks, in instances where a tummy tuck might create an imbalanced contour.