Look around on the internet for plastic surgery after massive weight loss, and chances are that you’ll see lots of references to a “Body Lift”, a “Total Body Lift” or a “360 Lift”. Many people think that this is the only procedure that is done to reshape the trunk after a weight loss procedure.
While it is very common, it’s not the only procedure out there that can help to achieve your goals.
As with any medical procedure (or, really, anything in life), what we choose to do is determined by your goals and desires. To a great extent, the way your body is built and shaped will help guide your choice of procedures. Essentially, there are two options to re-shape the trunk (the area from your rib cage to your genitals).
The body lift, or belt lipectomy as it is referred to in the medical literature, removes skin and fat in a band-like manner around your lower trunk. It not only gets rid of the drooping skin in the front, but also elevates sagging buttocks and eliminates lower back skin excess. It is an excellent choice for a “total body makeover”, but is not without its drawbacks. First of all, it is a lengthy procedure – operative times can range from 6-8 hours – and usually requires an overnight stay in the hospital. Additionally, recovery can be a bit more prolonged because there is an incision that runs the circumference of your body. As you can imagine, it can be uncomfortable to sit or bend over – no matter which way you move, you’re putting stress on a fresh incision. I typically recommend this procedure for patients who have circumferential skin excess and want their buttocks elevated.
A lesser known procedure is the high lateral tension abdominoplasty (HLTA). This is a great choice for people with skin excess mostly confined to the front and sides of the trunk. It can provide a modest amount of buttock elevation, but is not as powerful as a body lift is in this regard. The other benefit to the HLTA is that is very powerfully elevates the outer thighs, which the body lift does not do well. An HLTA will elevate the buttocks some, but if droopy buttocks are a major concern, a body lift is a better choice. The scar typically extends from hip to hip. For those patients who are reluctant to have a large surgery, an HLTA is a good first step; a posterior lift can be added later by simply “connecting” the ends of the incision. From a procedural standpoint, an HLTA is approximately a 4-hour procedure and recovery is much easier than a body lift.
Both the HLTA and the body lift are great options to reshape the trunk after massive weight loss. Which procedure is best for you really depends on how you are built and what areas you wish to reshape.