After losing over 100 pounds, this patient in her 60's had a large amount of hanging and loose skin. The Body Lift procedure transformed her lower body.

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What is a Body Lift?

A Body Lift, also known as the Belt Lipectomy or Lower Body Lift is a surgical procedure which offers the most dramatic transformation of the mid and lower body. It removes excess skin and fat from the abdomen, hips, outer thighs, and buttocks. To remove the skin and fat, and incision is placed around the entire lower body, in a circumferential fashion. Skin and fat are removed, your stomach muscles are tightened, and the incision is closed to tightly contour the body.

Broken into its components, the Lower Body Lift includes a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty), a thigh lift, and a buttock lift. The lower body lift can be performed in one surgical session or performed in stages.

For surgical technique, I use the Lockwood technique developed by Dr. Ted Lockwood, as described at Wikipedia. This technique results in the thinnest scar and the least amount of post operative complications, to make for the best possible surgical results.

What problems does a Body Lift address?

I feel like I have a tire roll around my waist.

-a Maryland patient

The body lift procedure is performed on post bariatric patients, as well as patients who have not had weight loss. The body lift transforms patients that have experienced massive weight loss and have excess skin. However, results are just as dramatic in patients who in addition to a tummy tuck want a tightening of the skin in their thighs and buttocks.

Candidates usually have these signs or symptoms

  • Significant weight loss which changes body contours:
    Weight loss can be a result of diet and exercise, as well as Gastric Bypass Surgery.
  • Loose skin around abdomen, outer thighs, and posterior buttocks:
    This can be a result of aging, pregnancy, or significant weight loss. Patients sometimes refer to the hanging skin as feeling like they have a tire around their waist.
  • Excess fat tissue:
    Fat deposits exist one or more of these areas: stomach, outer thighs, hips, and posterior buttocks.
  • Abdominal muscle separation:
    The muscle in the stomach is separated, and no amount of exercise can join it back together. The muscle must be surgically tightened.

Self examination for Body Lift candidacy

before and after body lift profileTo determine if you might be a candidate for a Body Lift, stand in front of a mirror so that you can evaluate the three areas that the procedure entails: abdomen, outer thighs, and posterior buttocks.

Abdomen: First, look at your abdomen. Use your thumb and palm of your hand to hold one edge of skin on your lower abdomen and then grasp the lower skin with all four fingers. If you like how your skin tightens, and the way your pubic mound lifts, you are a candidate for the abdominoplasty procedure.

Outer thighs: Now pinch the loose skin around your hips. See how it lifts the hips and thighs and elongates and slenderizes the shape of your legs? If you like this maneuver, you are a candidate for the outer thigh lift. In combination with a tummy tuck, this is called an extended abdominoplasty.

Posterior buttocks: Stand facing away from the mirror and look over your shoulder so you can see as much as you can of your backside. Reach back with the palm of your hand and lift the butt. This approximates what a posterior butt lift can accomplish.

The traditional butt lift will lift the butt by excising a wedge of skin and pulling up the skin so that the butt is lifted. Occasionally, patients also want fat injection into the buttocks if the butt has become very flat as a result of all the weight loss. The technique of transferring fat into the buttocks is called a brazilian butt lift.

If you want improvement in all three of these areas, the Lower Body Lift is the cosmetic surgery procedure for you!

What are the Pre-Operative requirements?

During your consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon it's important to listen to all of the pre-op instructions your surgeon gives and discuss all of the surgery and outcome concerns you have.

Your procedure should be performed by a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon in an accredited surgery center. The most highly recognized accreditation agencies are Medicare, AAAASF, and JCAHO. Be sure that your facility is accredited by at least one of these organizations! In many cases, a facility will have accreditation from Medicare, and either AAAASF or JCAHO. Our surgery center is accredited by both Medicare and the AAAASF.

Pre-Operative preparations

  • Post bariatric patients must be at least 18 months after the weight loss surgery date
  • Stable weight for 2 months
  • BMI index less than 40
  • H&P (history and physical) and a CBC blood test for medical clearance, 2 weeks prior to surgery
  • Stop smoking 2 weeks prior to the surgery
  • Stop taking aspirin, herbal supplements, and multi vitamins 2 weeks prior to surgery
  • NPO after midnight the night before surgery

How is the Lower Body Lift procedure performed?

I perform a Tummy Tuck, Outer Thigh Lift, and Posterior Butt Lift in one operative session. If the patient also desires an Inner Thigh Lift, that is usually performed in a second surgical session.

Type of Anesthesia

The Body Lift procedure is done under either IV sedation or general anesthesia. I prefer to perform the procedure with IV sedation as patients have a quicker recovery compared to General Anesthesia. Another advantage of IV anesthesia is that it reduces the risk of pulmonary embolism, most commonly associated with General Anesthesia.

In my surgery center we use only Board Certified Anesthesiologist. With the use of IV anesthesia, all patients during the past 8 years have been able to return to the comfort of their home on the same day as the surgery. This is possible because once the surgery is over, patients are awake, alert, and stable within one hour following the surgery.

Where is the incision located?

Body Lift skin excision locationOn the morning of surgery, I mark the location of the incision lines with you standing in front of a mirror. I will mark the upper boundary and the lower boundary. The area between those boundaries (shown in pink in the image to the left) is the skin and tissue that will be removed. The upper and lower margins are then joined together and sutured together with dissolvable stitches. The final single horizontal incision will be around the front and back of your midsection.

I ask all of my patients to bring a bathing suit or something to serve as a guideline for my markings. After the surgery, there is no way to avoid having a scar, but I am very aware of the need to place the scar as low as possible so that it is hidden with low cut panties or jeans.

Tissue dissection and wound closure

The goal of the wound closure is to make the closure as tight as possible without causing tension on the top layer of the skin. If there is too much tension when suturing the top layer of the skin, it can cause the scar to stretch wider and thicker. To avoid this, we put the tension on the deeper levels, instead of the top layers.

In addition, I try to minimize the amount of dissection (lifting of the tissues). When there is too much dissection of the tissues, fluid tends to accumulate and this can lead to complications such as seroma or hematoma. In the drawing below, the area dissected is illustrated in pink. You can see that the Lockwood technique has less tissue dissection than the traditional tummy tuck technique.

Tummy Tuck Lockwood technique dissectionFor this reason, I use the Lockwood technique for both the tissue dissection and the wound closure. The tissue is dissected less and the incision is closed with the tightest suturing at the deeper layers (instead of the surface). With the Lockwood technique, the following results are achieved:

  • Thinner scar, and less risk of the scar widening (scar spread) with time
  • Lower complication rate with fluid accumulation that usually results in seroma or hematoma
  • Flatter stomach and better results!

Over the past 20 years I have tried different techniques and I always come back to the Lockwood technique for the best results. This technique has the least amount of complications and provides the best surgical result.

Use of Pain Pump to decrease pain

Before you leave the operating room, we will insert a pain pump in the abdomen area. This is a device that you will wear for approximately 5 days. The pain pump will dramatically reduce the pain from the tummy tuck by pumping small quantities of local numbing medication into the abdomen area. This is not a narcotic, but simply a local anesthetic which will keep the area numb to reduce the sensation of pain. You can read more about how they work in my 2009 blog post on pain pumps.

Watch my Body Lift video to get an overview of the dramatic results that can be achieved for patients who have lost weight or have excess skin around their midsection.

What is Body Lift Post-Op recovery like?

The Body Lift procedure is a major procedure and all normal activities may not resume for 6-8 weeks. Patients should plan to be out of work for 3-4 weeks. No driving is allowed for 4 weeks. A key component during your post operative recovery period is the wearing of a compression garment, which is custom fitted at your pre-op appointment.

Post-Operative recovery instructions

  • Day 1-7: Bed rest with only walking to the bathroom
  • First 5 days: Compression garment is worn continuously
  • Until day 5: No showering or bathing, do NOT remove the bandages or compression garment!
  • Day 5: Pain pump and drains are removed, compression garment changed
  • Day 5: You can shower!
  • First 3 weeks: No work or planned activities
  • At 3-4 weeks: Return to light work
  • First 4 weeks: No driving
  • At 6-8 weeks: Resume normal activities

What are the risks and possible complications?

As with any surgery, there are risks and complications for Body Lift surgery. These include, but are not limited to the following:

  • fluid accumulation
  • hematoma
  • seroma
  • infection
  • poor wound healing
  • skin loss
  • asymmetry or unfavorable scarring
  • DVT, or deep vein thrombosis (primarily with General Anesthesia)
  • revision surgery

Finding out if a Body Lift is right for you

If you've experienced significant weight loss and would like for the loose skin and excess fat tissue around your abdomen, thighs, and buttocks to better reflect your new body shape, a body lift might be right for you. You'll need to set up a consultation with a Board Certified plastic surgeon who is experienced in post-bariatric body contouring to discuss your specific goals.

How much does a Lower Body Lift cost?

Total cost for the Lower Body Lift procedure is approximately $18,000 to $20,000. This includes the surgeon's fee, operating room fee, anesthesia fee, garments, and all post op visits. Different types of financing are available and the entire body lift procedure can be financed. Many patients use several forms of payments for the total cost.

Before and After Photos

Body Lift Before and AfterTake a look at our before and after Body Lift Photo gallery to see how the Body Lift results in a total body transformation. You can find a body frame that most closely approximates your figure now to get an idea of what can be achieved. For each Before and After Photo set I describe how much skin and fat were removed to achieve the body transformation. Please note that all of the patients in our photo gallery have given written consent for us to feature their photos at our website. We are very grateful for their participation in patient education!

Dr. Rodriguez Patient Reviews and Testimonials

Please see these these testimonials to read what my patients say about their experience with me. Our Body Lift patient satisfaction rate is very high!

I will customize the procedure to fit your body frame and the goals you want to achieve. Together we will decide on the best incision location in order to hide the scar as much as possible when wearing a bathing suit. In addition, I will use a technique to give you the thinnest possible scar.

Having Your Body Lift in Baltimore, Maryland

Contact Us Many of our surgical patients come from out of town. Baltimore is only 30 miles from BWI airport and we are only 20 minutes from the downtown Amtrak train station. Give us a call at +1-410-494-8100 or Contact Us online. We'll be happy to schedule a time for you to visit our offices or participate in a virtual consultation.

Following surgery, we help arrange nursing care to make your stay more comfortable. My staff will assist with transportation arrangements during the post op period. All of these things will be discussed with my staff following your Initial or Virtual Consultation with me.

For this procedure, my staff and I will make post operative visits to your hotel room during the first week of your surgery. Patients who live within 1-2 hours of Baltimore are only required to stay in Baltimore overnight. Patients who live more than 5 hours from Baltimore should plan to stay in the city for 1-2 weeks. Patients who come from abroad should plan to stay in Baltimore for a minimum of 2 weeks, but ideally 3 weeks.

doctor's signatureUpdated July 1, 2015
Ricardo L Rodriguez
Board Certified Plastic Surgery