A belt lipectomy, also known as a lower body lift, is a surgical procedure that reshapes the patient’s abdomen, hips, thighs and buttocks. This procedure is not intended simply to remove fat, which can be addressed with liposuction for most patients. However, the plastic surgeon may combine liposuction with a body lift to produce the best results. Rather, a body lift is intended to enhance the appearance of:
The abdomen, either strictly in the belly area or including the sides and lower back.
Groin tissue that is sagging onto the inner thigh.
Thigh circumference or tone of the inner, outer or posterior areas.
Skin begins to sag – especially on the buttocks, thighs and abdomen -- when it loses elasticity. That can be caused by pregnancy, significant weight loss (including gastric bypass surgery), sun damage, aging and even genetics. Patients typically choose a body lift to eliminate sagging skin and fat, repair stretched skin and re-contour their mid-section.
Primary candidates for a body lift are individuals with significant sagging skin in one or more of the areas noted above. Patients should be otherwise in good health, non-smokers, with no medical conditions that might increase surgical risk or impair healing. As with all cosmetic surgery, it is important to have realistic expectations regarding what the procedure can accomplish.
Body lift surgery is performed under general anesthesia and typically takes from 3 to 7 hours. Incisions can be extensive, given the nature of the surgery. If the procedure is focusing on the abdominal/groin area, the incision is usually placed along the upper or inner thigh, extending toward the waistline. For procedures focusing on the thighs and/or buttocks, an incision is made at the crease of the buttocks.
It is also possible to tighten the waist, abdomen, groin, thighs and buttocks in a single procedure, in which case the incision will extend around the entire circumference of the mid-section. Every effort is made to place incisions where scars will not be visible under most types of swimsuits or other clothing.
The surgeon will remove excess skin and fat, and may use liposuction to enhance final contouring. A combination of sutures, tapes, skin adhesives or clips may be used to close incisions, then bandages or dressings are applied to support and protect them. Usually small, thin tubes are also placed under the skin, to enable excess blood or fluids to drain.
Recovery time depends on the extent of the procedure. Post-operative instructions emphasize resting and limiting movement, to enable the body to heal as quickly as possible. At-home follow-up also includes instruction on monitoring and caring for incisions and drains as well as medication for minor pain and to reduce the risk of infection.
Although it may take a year or two to see the ultimate results of a body lift, patients will see visible results very quickly. It is important to keep your aesthetic goals in mind. Body lift surgery can remove stubborn fat deposits and sagging skin, and improve your body’s contours. You can expect firmer skin that looks smoother. You can expect to feel more comfortable, be able to wear a wider variety of clothing, and feel fantastic about yourself.
You may be very pleased indeed with your new look and the renewed self-confidence it brings. But a body lift cannot return your body to the way it looked before you gained weight, and you will continue to age, surgery or not. You will see the best long-term results if you continue to care for yourself, eat well, and make sure you’re engaging in regular physical activity.