Body lift – How to reduce risks

The Body lift is a procedure which lifts and tightens the entire lower part of the body. The procedure is actually three separate procedures performed in the same operative session. The component parts of the Body lift are the tummy tuck, the outer thigh lift and excisional butt lift.

The average amount of time required for the Lower body lift procedure is 7-8 hours and it can be performed under general anesthesia or IV sedation. With the procedure taking so much time, you may ask…

How safe is a Body lift?

Surgery has a variety of risks, but the choice of anesthesia for the Body lift can definitely reduce the biggest risk – the risk of pulmonary embolism, or blood clot to the lungs. With long procedures, 5-7% of patients develop pulmonary embolism with the use of general anesthesia. So, in order to completely eliminate that risk, I have been using IV sedation exclusively instead of general anesthesia for the past couple of years.

Lower body lift with IV sedation

I perform all of my Lower body lifts at our AAAASF accredited surgicenter under IV sedation as an outpatient procedure. It’s an 8 hour procedure, yet with IV sedation (instead of General Anesthesia) my patients leave the same day and have less nausea and less pain post-operatively. But, most importantly, they all have a lower risk for pulmonary embolism because I use IV sedation.

What makes IV sedation safer than general anesthesia?

With general anesthesia, there is a lot of concern about the incidence of blood clots to the lungs. With general anesthesia, risk factors increase with the length of the procedure. Because the bodylift is a long procedure, blood clots are a definite risk with general anesthesia. However, with IV anesthesia, you do not have a tube through your nose and you are breathing on your own.

For a long surgery like the Body lift, IV anesthesia is a much safer choice

With twilight anesthesia there is essentially no risk of a blood clot to the lungs. Furthermore, the anesthetic used in IV sedation is cleared from the system very quickly, so there is very little hangover from the anesthetic. Patients are asleep enough not to remember anything, but light enough to wake from anesthesia quickly

This is complemented with tumescent local anesthesia. This is the anesthetic which is injected near the surgical site, much like how a dentist numbs an area. Tumescent anesthesia has effective amounts of local short and long acting anesthetics diluted in large volumes of fluid. The combination of the two types of anesthesia allows the surgeon to do a lot of surgery without having the patient under general anesthesia. More importantly, they emerge from anesthesia with very little pain.

Because of the tumescent local anesthesia, there is very little need for narcotics. Narcotics can cause a lot of nausea after surgery, and can depress the patient’s respirations. Avoiding narcotics during and after surgery is a big part of our strategy.

Pain pumps reduce pain after surgery

We use a pain pump that pumps local anesthetics into the abdominal muscles. This is very important because as the patient emerges from anesthesia, they breathe easily. A patient that is not in pain, who can breathe easily, and is not hungover from anesthesia is very self sufficient and aware of his/her surroundings. They are ready to go home. This is a far cry from when I used to use general anesthesia in the hospital, when patients were so hungover from anesthesia I felt reluctant to discharge them from the hospital.

All of these things make our Body lift approach very safe and reliable as an outpatient procedure. But the real payoff comes during the recovery period. As a matter of fact, the level of comfort is such, we find ourselves warning patients not to do too much!

I love doing Body lifts and I feel very confident that by using IV anesthesia I am offering a safer solution to giving patients their desired 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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2 thoughts on “Body lift – How to reduce risks”

  • cream says:

    does IV sedation reduce or doe it completely eleminate the risk of blood clots or pulminary embolism?
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Cream: Never say never in Medicine. While it is possible in theory to have a clot or pulmonary embolism with IV sedation, it would be extremely rare. We have not had a single clot or pulmonary embolism since we started doing IV sedation, even with very long procedures. There are two other separate series, both with thousands of patients (over 4,000 Chicago, over 2,000 in Texas) with no clots or pulmonary emboli. Hope this helps!