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A ‘body lift’ describes a surgical procedure which removes unwanted loose skin from the lower abdomen and continues around the body to include the lower back just above the buttocks. In addition to removing excess skin, it also aims to lift the buttocks, outer thighs and pubic region, which can drop following weight loss.

Surgery to other body parts such as the arms, inner thighs, breasts and even upper back may also be considered by people who have lost significant weight, and are often referred to as lifting procedures. This group of procedures are also referred to as body contouring surgery.

Losing a significant amount of weight is an amazing achievement, but often the results of all that hard work can be hidden under folds of excess sagging skin that has lost its elasticity. By removing this excess skin and underlying tissue, a body lift can help restore smoother and tighter body contours.

The term body lift describes a specific surgical procedure that is similar to a full abdominoplasty, which extends the whole way around the body to address the upper outer thighs, lower back and buttocks.

A variety of surgical procedures which remove unwanted skin and soft tissue from many parts of the body that can become problematic after significant weight loss are described under the general term of body contouring surgery. Common body contouring procedures include full or extended tummy tuck (or abdominoplasty), apronectomy, arm lift, breast lift, thigh lift and at times ‘mummy makeover’.

At Avery, we welcome the opportunity to have an open conversation with you to understand the changes you are looking for with surgery. Our patients’ stories matter a great deal to us. You can discover some of our wonderful patients’ journeys here.

Wherever you are on your personal journey, we would like to assist you. Dr Avery will listen to your concerns and what you want to achieve with surgery. Dr Avery will assess your health and medical history to ensure any surgical procedure you are considering is a safe and appropriate choice for you.

Procedure

The incision and subsequent scar for body lift surgery is generally made just above the pubic area, continuing around the very upper thighs and finally around the back above the upper buttocks, where the scar can be hidden below an underwear or bikini line. A small second incision will also be made around the navel (umbilicus or belly button) in order to move its position once the skin is tightened.

The length of the surgery will depend on the amount of tissue removed and whether or not additional procedures such as liposuction are being performed.

Consultation

There are two main pathways to a consultation with a Specialist Plastic Surgeon. Your GP or another health practitioner can make a referral to Dr Avery. Alternatively, it is possible to refer yourself for a consultation. The decision to have a consultation may be made after talking with family or friends, or following your own research into plastic surgery and Dr Avery.

The purpose of your initial consultation with Dr Avery is to discuss both your concerns and your goals. It is an opportunity to openly communicate what you want to change, alleviate, improve, restore, enhance, or remove. We will discuss any concerns you may have about your potential surgery and its outcome. We will also collect information that is specific and tailored to you, to add to the knowledge you acquired through your research outside of the consultation process.

When you arrive at Avery, you will check in with our front-desk team and complete a medical history form, if not already completed. We encourage you to bring a supportive family member or friend who can remain with you throughout the consultation if you like, and be a sounding board during your decision-making process following the consultation.

The consultation with Dr Avery will include an examination of the area of your body that you are concerned with and considering changing. Our aim will be to determine if plastic surgery can achieve what you hope it will, and if so, what specific plastic surgery procedures will address your concerns and meet your expectations in a realistic way.

Plastic surgery procedures generally impact both physical appearance and your psychological response to the new changes in your body. Besides all the advantages to having plastic surgery, it is important to be fully aware of any potential limitations of the operation and how they apply to your unique situation. This includes possible complications and what can be done if these occur.

We will discuss what the surgery involves, how it relates to you specifically given your uniqueness and current state of health, what the possible risks of the surgery are, and then decide if having the surgery is a safe and appropriate choice for you as an individual.

After your consultation, our support team will be there to talk through any further questions you have, including the cost of the surgery.

At Avery, our goal is to ensure you are equipped with the knowledge needed for you to feel empowered throughout the decision-making process, surgery and post-surgery.

Recovery

Several nights in hospital are generally required post body lift surgery to aid with your recovery. Depending on the complexity of the surgery and any additional procedures, 3-6 weeks off work may also be recommended.

There will be some bruising and swelling, which generally subsides about 2-6 weeks after the operation. You will be required to wear a compression garment or bandages for approximately 6 weeks to provide support and reduce post-operative pain or swelling.

A customised pain relief program will be created for you and issued before you leave the hospital. If circumstances change at any stage during the recovery period, then the pain medication or follow up appointments can be adjusted accordingly.

Body Lift FAQs

What is the difference between a body lift and body contouring surgery?

A body lift is a specific surgical procedure within the larger group of body contouring surgical procedures. Body contouring surgery is the term used to describe a number of operations that are generally considered by people who have lost a significant amount of weight. Following weight loss, the overlying skin may not shrink and may leave loose hanging skin that produces symptoms such as skin irritation, difficulty with clothing choices and concern with appearance. Other specific procedures that could be considered in this category of body contouring surgery include variations of an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck), breast lift, thigh lift, arm lift and neck lift. The body lift procedure addresses loose lower abdominal skin that an abdominoplasty does and also the upper outer thighs and buttocks, resulting in a tightened lower body.

How long after weight loss can I have body lift surgery?

The best time to proceed with body contouring surgery is when your weight loss is mostly complete, and your weight has been stable for several months. If you have had surgery to help achieve weight loss, you may be required to wait at least a year before body contouring surgery.

It is advisable to have surgery once you’ve reached your preferred weight goal, and you are able to maintain this new weight.

It is possible to have a consultation regarding potential surgery during your weight loss journey, i.e., before your weight loss has stabilised.

What are the risks associated with body lift surgery?

Like any surgery, there is always an element of risk and a possibility of complications. Complications such as blood clots, infection, bruising, bleeding, poor wound healing and unsightly scarring can be experienced post body contouring surgery.

As part of the consultation process, Dr Avery will have a more in-depth discussion with you regarding potential complications and how to reduce the risk of these.

Will I have a general or local anaesthetic?

Body contouring surgery requires general anaesthesia that is safe and effective, with minimal risk. Dr Avery will talk through the potential risks during your consultation.

Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner. Dr Avery is a member of the two leading professional associations for plastic surgeons in Australia, ASAPS and ASPS. Their websites provide additional information regarding plastic surgery in Australia that you might find useful, please visit ASAPS and ASPS.