Body lift complications & revisions

A collage of photos of a patient before & after a body lift procedure.
this patient in her 50’s had a body lift to remove excess skin from her midsection

The Lower body lift procedure removes excess skin from the entire lower part of the body (stomach, hips and buttocks) and it is an ideal choice for patients who have experienced massive weight loss. However, even patients who have not had WLS are candidates for the body lift procedure. If you have loose hanging skin around your entire midsection, you are likely a candidate for this procedure.

As with any surgery, the body lift comes with possible complications and potential revisions as it lifts and tightens the entire lower part of the body. The good news is that most complications are relatively minor and can be handled post operatively in the office setting.

In general, possible complications include fluid accumulation, hematoma, seroma, infection, poor wound healing (wound separation), asymmetry, unfavorable scarring, numbness or other changes in skin sensation, fat necrosis and deep vein thrombosis (primarily associated with General Anesthesia).

Body lift complication & revision rates

36% of all patients who undergo a Body lift procedure will have a complication

-Ricardo L Rodriguez, MD

The Body lift is a major procedure and as with any surgery, there are potential complications that should be discussed with your board certified plastic surgeon during your consult.

A recent study analyzing 42 consecutive outpatient lower body lift procedures determined that 36% of all patients who undergo a Body lift procedure will have a minor complication, and that 1 in 4 patients will have wound separation during the post op period (which can be addressed in the office or clinic).

Body lift complications and revisions chart.
Body lift complications and revisions chart based on data from the study.

Revision rate among the 42 patients was determined to be 26% with the majority of revisions to improve the appearance of the scar. In this study, there were no deaths, venous thromboembolic events, hematomas, transfusions, or hospitalizations among the 42 lower body lift patients studied.

Avoiding Body lift complications

Good surgical technique achieves the *best* results with the least amount of post-operative complications.

-Dr. Rodriguez

It is obviously the goal of every good surgeon and patient to avoid complications, which is why there are assessment requirements like BMI and pre-op H&P and CBC tests. If you are considering a Body lift, it is best to discuss surgical technique, pre-op preparations and post-op instructions during your consult.

For example, it is my experience that wound closure and fluid collection complications tend to occur if too much fat is removed in the subcutaneous layers. I find the Lockwood technique results in more secure skin closure and helps me to achieve the thinnest possible scar. With this technique  the suture tightening is applied  to the deeper layers, and prevent the scar at the top layer from widening over time.

Additionally, for a long surgery like the body lift, IV anesthesia administered by a board certified anesthesiologist is a much safer choice than general anesthesia. I have written about reducing risk during body lifts in the past, see this blog post. Just be certain to learn everything you can about the procedure and ask a lot of questions about surgical technique (and why) during your consult.

Learn more about Body lifts

If you have experienced weight loss following a bariatric procedure, diet and exercise learn more about the Body lift procedure and start consulting with board certified plastic surgeons to discuss how this procedure might help you complete your transformation. This is a fantastic procedure that yields dramatic results!

By Dr. Ricardo L. Rodriguez MD Board Certified Plastic Surgeon Cosmeticsurg Baltimore, Maryland Ricardo L. Rodriguez on American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

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