When you lose a large amount of weight often you are still left feeling deflated. Literally. You get rid of the fat but the skin doesn’t bounce back and so you are left feeling and looking like an underweight elephant with rolls and sags everywhere you look. For some, an abdominoplasty won’t quite cut it… excuse the pun. The only thing that will cut it (all off) is a circumferential or full body lift. Dr Gavin Sandercoe in Bella Vista NSW has performed many a full body lift and chats to us about what’s involved. Let’s look at what’s involved in a body lift after massive weight loss.
Why is there so much skin?
Dr Sandercoe says after you lose your fat the degree to which the skin retracts to its initial state depends on a handful of factors. “It’s genetics, the amount of remaining fat and the remaining structural integrity or tone of the skin. The rate of weight loss is actually less important that the rate of initial weight gain!” He goes on to say, “Although you can strengthen the underlying muscles and lose the remaining fat, there is no method (other than surgery) of tightening the overlying skin, especially if it has stretch marks.”
What’s involved in a full body lift?
A fully body lift, also known as a belt lipectomy, is basically an abdominoplasty combined with the removal of excess skin in other areas such as the trunk, lateral thighs, lower back, buttocks, hips and flanks. It can lift the buttocks and thighs to a certain extent, and the width of the “belt” of tissue to be cut depends on how much remaining fat and skin you have to be removed.
Dr Sandercoe says, “Your skin tone, position of fat, muscle position and tone, and any prior scars will help determine which technique or pattern will give you the best results. Additionally, your needs, such as ability to take time off work and sports and the importance of scar position and length, will need to be considered. For our patients getting a body lift in Sydney, we consider all of these factors to decide on an individualised surgical approach.”
A body lift is a major procedure and will require extensive incisions. They usually extend from hip to hip, across your belly and around your back. These should hopefully be done so the scars will be hidden where you wear your underwear (your bikini line or just above your pubic hair). Dr Sandercoe suggests this should definitely be discussed with your surgeon at your consultation so you know what to expect.
Many patients ask if liposuction will do the same job. Whilst liposuction can be good at removing fat it won’t tighten the skin, unless the skin has good elasticity to begin with. In massive weight loss patients, unfortunately the skin has usually been stretched to the point where it won’t bounce back and having the skin removed via surgery is the only option. Your surgeon may suggest liposuction combined with a body lift to help get rid of any remaining fat that would be difficult to remove during the body lift surgery.
Ideal Body Weight
Dr Sandercoe says it’s really important for patients to be at, or close to, their ideal weight for at least 6 months before looking at having a body lift procedure. “Having a stable weight for a year or two will ensure your results are long lasting and more successful.”
A body lift is the ultimate body contouring procedure for those after massive weight loss. It can be the final stage in a journey that is both emotionally and physically demanding. Trading all that excess skin for a scar that can usually be hidden reasonably easily is not a bad trade off and can make all the difference in happiness. It can mean fitting into clothes, being confident again in the bedroom, being happy with what you see in the mirror…
Moving Fat with Dr Gavin Sandercoe
Kristie’s Fat Transfer to the Breasts with Dr Gavin Sandercoe
Kaiya’s Mummy Makeover with Dr Gavin Sandercoe
Jo’s Story – Circumferential Body Lift, Brachioplasty, Thigh Lift, Abdominoplasty and Liposuction