Dramatic weight loss, weight fluctuation or natural aging frequently results in sagging skin in areas below the waistline. Lower-body-lift surgery tightens and sculpts the buttocks, back of the thighs, outer thighs, inner thighs, hips and abdomen. Loose skin that looks aesthetically displeasing or causes mobility restrictions is removed. A lower body lift is appropriate if you are near your ideal weight and may precede or follow an upper body lift procedure. Every year, thousands of people undergo successful lower-body-lift surgery and are pleased with the results.
When to Consider a Lower Body Lift
- If you have had dramatic weight loss due to bariatric surgery or dieting.
- If you have relatively thin layers of fat below the skin in the hip, thigh, abdomen and buttock areas.
- If overhanging skin in your lower body restricts your mobility and/or causes painful
- Chafing, rashes or infection.
- If you are distressed by sagging skin in your lower body.
- Loose skin will be removed and your contour sculpted, so you can see the results of your weight loss.
- You will experience the improved self-esteem that comes from looking better.
- You will get rid of overhanging skin that may cause painful chafing, rashes and infections.
- This is a demanding surgical procedure with a lengthy recovery.
- You will probably need one to three days of hospitalization or skilled nursing care at home.
- You will have a scar .
These are the top three pros and cons to weigh when considering a lower body lift. If you want to focus on those specifically unique to you, please consult with your plastic surgeon.
Are you a good candidate for a lower body lift?
After you’ve struggled to achieve a healthy weight or have undergone bariatric surgery, you may still feel frustrated by your appearance if you have excess skin along the lower abdomen, relaxed abdominal wall muscles and loose and wrinkled skin along the thighs and buttocks. A lower body lift, which leaves a circumferential scar hidden in the bikini line, can dramatically improve areas of sagging skin and/or cellulite below the waistline. The following are some common reasons why you may want to consider a lower body lift:
- You have undergone bariatric surgery or significant weight loss through dieting.
- Pregnancy and/or aging have left you with loose skin and cellulite below the waistline.
- You have loose skin on your hips, the sides and fronts of your thighs, your inner thighs and your abdomen.
- You have significant skin laxity, excess skin, ptosis (sagginess) of the buttocks and abdominal wall laxity.
- The layers of fat below your loose skin are relatively thin.
- You are willing to accept a thin circumferential scar around your waist.
- You do not smoke. Smoking slows down the healing process and increases the risk of serious complications during and after surgery. If you smoke, you must quit at least six weeks before surgery.
- Your weight has been stable for at least a year, with no further weight loss expected. For optimal results, body contouring should not be done for about two years after the start of any massive-weight-loss program. This time allows your skin to shrink as much as possible and your nutrition to be stabilized and optimized, factors that will aid in your recovery.
- You are in overall good health without chronic medical conditions such as diabetes or heart disease. People in poor health are not good candidates for body contouring procedures. You must obtain clearance for plastic surgery from your primary care physician or from doctors treating you for medical conditions.
- You have a healthy diet. Problems such as protein deficiencies can interfere with healing.
- You have mental stamina. Surgical contouring procedures require patience and endurance.
If you are in good general health and have a positive attitude and realistic expectations, you are most likely a good candidate for this procedure.
Detailed Procedural Info
How is a lower body lift procedure performed?
A complete lower body lift has the advantage of treating the buttocks, abdomen, waist, hips and thighs in one procedure. Basically, the lower body lift extends the tummy tuck incision completely around the lower torso, which allows your surgeon to lift or resuspend the thighs and tighten the buttocks as well as to execute the traditional tummy tuck. The length and the pattern of incisions depend on how much extra skin is removed and where that skin is located. Your plastic surgeon will do his or her best to take your incision preferences into consideration. Here is a typical scenario for performing this procedure, although your surgeon may use a variation:
- Your surgeon will create a circumferential incision extending around your torso, through which he or she will remove an apron of excess skin and fat below the incision and reposition and tighten your tissues.
- The remaining skin in your buttocks and thighs will be pulled upward and your skin and underlying tissues will be suspended and tightened. You will be positioned on your tummy or side during this part of the procedure.
- Once your back and sides have been addressed, you will be positioned on your back so the surgeon can treat your front side.
- At this point, two options are available, which will be discussed with you preoperatively. One option is to combine the lower body lift with abdominal contouring, otherwise known as a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty). The other option is to combine the lower body lift with an inner thigh lift, if your abdomen does not require contouring or if you have already had an abdominoplasty.
- Your incisions will be closed in multiple layers, drains may be used to control stretching and swelling. Deep support sutures within the underlying tissues help to form the newly shaped contours. Sutures, skin adhesives or tapes are used to close the skin incisions.
In this single procedure, incisions extend around the body to remove excess skin and fat from the abdomen, outer thighs, buttocks, hips and waist.
What are my options?
Liposuction combined with lower body lift You may benefit from liposuction in addition to a lower body lift to achieve the best possible contour. Liposuction can smooth and contour areas separate from the effects of the body lift excisions. A thorough discussion and examination are essential to determine a comprehensive surgical plan.
Abdominoplasty or inner thigh lift You can combine the lower body lift with abdominal contouring, otherwise known as a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) or combine the lower body lift with an inner thigh lift if your abdomen does not require contouring or if you have already had an abdominoplasty.
Further weight loss or liposuction Because the lower body is lifted and suspended to the skin closure, excessive heaviness in the thighs and buttocks at the time of surgery may prevent a long-lasting effect. In such cases, your surgeon may recommend further weight loss before you undergo a lower body lift. If this is not feasible, you may undergo liposuction to thin the thighs and buttocks before undergoing excisional body lifting.
Scar placement The lower body lift scar, which extends around the circumference of your torso, is designed to be hidden in your underwear or bikini.
What will my lower body lift incisions and scars be like?
The incision used for lower body lift produces a permanent, scar around the entire lower trunk. The scar is placed low on the stomach, just above the pubic hair area, and extends toward the hip bones. At the hip bone the scar gently curves toward the top of the buttock crease to meet the incision from the other side. Your scar will be easily hidden by clothing.
Selecting a Surgeon
Select a surgeon you can trust
It’s important to choose your surgeon for based on:
- Education, training and certification.
- Experience with lower body lifts.
- Your comfort level with him or her.