After a significant amount of weight loss or sometimes just with aging skin, our bodies can be left with a lot of excess loose skin. Sometimes the excess skin can extend all the way around the body and lead to difficulty with fitting clothes and overlapping skin that can get moist and irritated. The only way to remove the excess and/or significantly retighten the skin around both the belly and back is through a surgical procedure called a body lift. This differs from an abdominoplasty or “tummy tuck” in that addresses the excess skin in the back at same time, compared to the tummy tuck which only focuses on the stomach.
During a body lift an incision is made low in the stomach below the bikini line and then extended all the way around the back while still staying below the bikini line. An incision around the navel (belly button) is also typically required to recontour the skin above it. The abdominal muscles can also be repaired/tightened at the same time and then all the excess skin can be removed. The extent of the incision for a body lift can be either circumferential, running the full length of the stomach, hips and back, or near-circumferential, not reaching all the way around the back from either side. The decision between performing a circumferential body lift versus a near- circumferential body lift is based on each individual patients’ needs. This procedure helps patients with saggy skin, stretch marks, and or a persistent bulges in the stomach, hips (love handles), or back.
A body lift is often combined with other procedures of the breast or body such as liposuction of the flanks or stomach. Dr. Jason was the lead author on a study, Comparison of Limited-Undermining Lipoabdominoplasty and Traditional Abdominoplasty Using Laser Fluorescence Imaging, published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal that objectively evaluated the safety of performing liposuction of stomach fat at the same time as a tummy tuck. This breakthrough procedure is able to achieve more dramatic results in a single procedure.
Circumferential Body Lift Surgery Facts
+ Anesthesia: Typically general anesthesia.
+ Length Of Stay: A single overnight stay is necessary. The Surgery Center at UCLA is the only place in Los Angeles that allows you to have your surgery followed by a monitored overnight stay with a registered nurse (R.N.) in the same facility. Not to mention, that UCLA’s world class hospital ranked “Best in the West” according to the U.S. News and World Report for the last 2 decades, is next door in the rare event of an emergency. This allows for a safer surgical experience which is one of the main reasons Dr. Jason is proud to be on faculty at UCLA.
+ Body Lift Recovery: There is moderate discomfort the first week and you will typically have plastic drainage tubes that collects body fluid for 1 week. You should be up and about within the same day; start showering in two days; stitches are dissolvable; bruising mostly gone by 1 week; back to work if not strenuous after 1-2 weeks; avoid any exercise or significant increase in your heart rate for 2 weeks. Can restart gentle exercise routine at 6 weeks and return to full activity by 3 months. Body lift scars will continue to lighten and mature over 6 months to a year.
+ Body Lift Scars: The scar is variable in length but typically below the bikini line and runs the full length of the stomach and hips (love handles) extending into the back. During your initial body lift consultation with Dr. Jason he will discuss what to expect based on your personal needs and surgery.
+ Risks/Possible Body Lift Complications: Serious complications, while possible, are unlikely. Some potential body lift complications can be avoided by carefully following your surgeon’s instructions.
Top 10 Circumferential Body Lift Questions
1. Should I start a diet and exercise regimen before or after a body lift procedure? To achieve the best possible result in body contouring it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This should be started before surgery so that you can keep it going after surgery. Although you will have to take a break from exercise for a few weeks during your recovery, it important to maintain a well-balanced diet. Many of Dr. Jason’s patients are more motivated by their new body shape following surgery and want to maintain a healthy diet and exercise regimen.
2. Does the belly button get moved during a body lift? The simple answer is no. We leave the belly button alone and make a new opening for it. Dr. Jason utilizes special suturing techniques to achieve a natural looking result with hidden scars tucked deep inside the belly button.
3. If I am unhappy with the appearance of my belly button can it be improved during a body lift? Since we often have to create a new opening for your belly button, this gives us the opportunity to change its size or shape. You can discuss your goals with Dr. Jason during the consultation to try and achieve the perfect belly button for you.
4. Can a body lift be combined with other procedures? Yes, a body lift can be combined with other procedures of the breast or body, however the total length of anesthesia should generally not exceed 6-8 hours for elective procedures. Liposuction of the flanks or a breast lift with or without augmentation as part of a “mommy makeover” can at times be performed at the same time. Dr. Jason was the lead author on a study, Comparison of Limited-Undermining Lipoabdominoplasty and Traditional Abdominoplasty Using Laser Fluorescence Imaging, published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal that objectively evaluated the safety of performing liposuction of belly fat at the same time as the tummy tuck portion of a body lift. This breakthrough procedure is able to achieve more dramatic results in a single procedure.
5. How do I choose the right doctor to perform a body lift? You should look at the doctors before and after photos critically and decide whether you like their sense of aesthetic. Cosmetic surgery is an art and therefore you want to find a doctor that matches your taste so to speak.
6. How long does a body lift last? Patients who maintain a healthy lifestyle will enjoy the result of their tummy tuck procedure for decades. Significant increases in weight, however, can stretch out the abdominal skin and muscles that were tightened.
7. How long will it take to heal after a body lift? Your incisions will be healed and you can return to most activities by 6 weeks. Full activities such as strenuous workouts, running, etc. is best to wait until 3 months, when your scars have achieved full strength. For a body lift scar to fully mature, however, it takes at least 6 months to a year. Over this time you will see your scars become barely visible, they will lighten in color and become softer to the touch.
8. When can I start working out again after a body lift? For the first 2 weeks following surgery, you want to avoid straining (lifting anything more than 5 lbs), or getting your heart rate/blood pressure up as this can lead to bleeding. After 2-3 weeks you should avoid mechanical forces that will stress or put tension on your healing incisions for 3 months. This means you should avoid high impact activities that lead to excessive movement of your body, such a running. Listen to what your body is telling you at all times, for instance stop the workout if you experience any new discomfort. Remember, getting plenty of rest and reducing your overall activity will give you time to heal and speed up your recovery.
9. When can I go back to work after a body lift? It really depends on what you do for work. If you have a desk job you can typically return to work after 2 weeks. If your profession is more physically demanding, Dr. Jason recommends waiting at least 3 weeks before returning to work. Remember, you do not want to strain or lift anything that weighs more than five pounds for the first 2 weeks after surgery.
10. Can I get pregnant after a body lift? Yes, you are able to get pregnant with no consequences to your newborn. However, the pregnancy will re-stretch the skin and abdominal muscles that were tightened and may require a revisional procedure. Therefore, it is advisable to wait until you are done with pregnancies before considering a body lift.
About Circumferential Body Lift Surgery
A body lift procedure typically last approximately four hours. Dr. Jason will typically create incisions below your bikini line that extends all the way around the back while still staying below the bikini line. An incision around the navel (belly button) is also typically required to recontour the skin above it.The extent of the incision for a body lift can be either circumferential, running the full length of the stomach, hips and back, or near-circumferential, not reaching all the way around the back from either side. The incision will be made as inconspicuously as possible, however, its length will vary depending on what your particular body needs to achieve the best possible shape. Dr. Jason will employ liposuction in any of the areas you need to achieve the best result. Your abdominal muscles will be repaired and tightened as necessary. The extra skin from your belly is then removed and your incisions are closed using absorbable sutures so there is no need to later remove any stitches. The majority of the swelling will likely subside within a week while some mild swelling may persist for a few more weeks. Within one week after surgery you will visit Dr. Jason as a follow up so he can check on your healing and answer any questions.
What To Expect After Circumferential Body Lift Surgery
The procedure is performed at UCLA’s state of the art outpatient surgery center that provides an unparalleled level of safety. US News has ranked the UCLA Medical Center among the top 5 hospitals in the country for more than 20 years. Following your procedure, you will be taken to the recovery suite where you will stay and be cared for and monitored by UCLA’s excellent nurses overnight. You can take a shower after 2 days but baths, swimming, or soaking of your incisions should be avoided for 4 weeks.
Most patients require prescription narcotics for at least a few days after surgery. You can drive if you’re not taking prescription narcotics and most feel up for it 1-2 weeks after surgery. You can return to work within 1-2 weeks as long as it doesn’t require any significant physical activity or lifting.
UCLA Circumferential Body Lift Consultation
If you are considering getting a body lift surgery, please come in for a consultation with Dr. Jason at UCLA. Click here to book a consultation or call 310.825.8827.
At the consultation Dr Jason will listen closely to what you are interested in and what type of look you are trying achieve. Dr Jason specializes in natural looking results and will take guide you toward the procedure that fits your body. You will have the opportunity to thoroughly review his earlier work and see whether his results are what you are looking for.