In some weight loss patients, enough loose skin results that it feels like a suit is hanging off your body. The excess skin exists in a 360 degree fashion from the chest down to the knees. You could call this the ‘sharpee’ syndrome or one that looks like ‘wax melting off a candle’ but , either way, it is uncomfortable living in your skin suit. With this much skin excess, drastic and non-traditional methods of plastic surgery are required.
To achieve a balanced body look, no one plastic surgery operation is enough. It requires a combination of procedures at the core of the body to make a dramatic difference. Such a procedure is the body lift. It goes by many different names including the old term belt lipectomy, circumferential body lift or a lower body. Essentially, a body lift reshapes the entire midsection of the body in a circumferential manner. It combines three operations into one, a frontal tummy tuck, a side thigh lift, and a backside buttock lift. Such an approach produces a complete recontouring of the waistline in a 360 degree manner. The effect can only be described as dramatic for every body lift patient. The waistline is narrower, the abdomen is flatter, and the loose skin of the buttock and thighs is lifted. Some of the rolls, wrinkles and cellulite of the legs and buttocks is also improved. While a final scar goes all the way around, that is but a small price to pay for such dramatic improvement.
The body lift is, by far, the most difficult body contouring operation for patient and plastic surgeon alike. Body lifts take a lot of time to perform (4 to 6 hours) and require the patient to be repositioned multiple times throughout the surgery. It takes a lot of cutting and sewing to perform a body lift which is taxing for the plastic surgeon. Patients surprising do not have a lot of pain but they must endure the use of three or four drains after surgery for a few weeks. Patients will feel like they have had their ‘pants lifted’ (sometimes like having a wedgie) and it will feel tight for awhile. Because of the magnitude of a body lift, It is the only body contouring operation I will do in one setting and prefer most patients to spent their first night after surgery in the facility for monitoring, IV fluids, and pain control. One should allow a good three, and preferably four weeks after surgery for recovery before returning to work. I have not yet had a need to do a blood transfusion but it is always a remote possibility.
Because of the length of the scar and the amount of sutures used, every patient will end up with some temporary wound separation problems. This, surprisingly, does not occur until about three weeks after surgery. It is not a question of if it will happen…just when and how much. Most wound separations are allowed to heal on their own with the use of dressings.
Dr. Barry Eppley