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Body Lifts

April 12, 2006,

By: Robert Cohen, M.D.

How many times have you heard this expression: “Do these pants make my butt look big”? Clearly, poorly fitting clothes can have a significant impact on one’s overall appearance and confidence. Well, imagine having to wear ill-fitting clothes all the time. This is what life is like for people who have lost significant weight, either through diet and exercise, or with help from a gastric bypass procedure. For many of these people, as the pounds disappear, their body shrinks while their skin retains its stretched-out size. It’s like a thin person being forced to wear a heavier persons clothing. Often, the loose skin can be prone to rashes or odors, causing even more embarrassment than the original obesity.

Fortunately, there are people who have expertise in “tailoring” loose skin to fit the leaner, healthier body underneath. These experts are plastic surgeons, and the tailoring technique is called a “body lift“. The body lift is a surgical procedure in which the excess skin of the lower abdomen and lower back and buttocks is removed circumferentially, like an unwanted inner tube. Simultaneously, the sagging skin of the legs and buttocks can be hoisted up to provide a smoother, more youthful appearance. If needed, excess skin of the inner thigh can be removed as well.

“That sounds like a lot of surgery”, you may be thinking to yourself. “Can’t I just get some laser tightening or liposuction instead”? Although plastic surgeons always look for the least invasive way to treat their patients, in the case of significantly stretched out and sagging skin, surgical excision is the only means to truly tailor and re-drape the skin over the underlying body. Liposuction depends on skin that is already tight and elastic, which “snaps back into place” once fat is removed. Liposuction is ineffective on people with very loose skin, and can actually worsen their overall appearance. Non-cutting skin tightening like laser treatment or Thermage is effective for mild skin laxity in the face and certain areas of the body, but not for the kind of skin looseness seen after significant weight loss.

My personal experience with numerous body lift procedures has been very positive, and all of my patients were thrilled with the results of their surgery. At Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire, where I trained, there were a vast number of patients who had experienced significant weight loss, and most of them did not realize that their skin would not shrink in proportion to their bodies. All of them were grateful to rid themselves of their excess baggy skin.

I asked Dr. Grant Stevens, my mentor at the Marina Plastic Surgery in Marina Del Rey, California to describe his experiences with body lift surgery. “My patients come from all over California, the United States, and from multiple countries around the world. They all tell me postoperatively that this is life-changing surgery, and gives them a positive new outlook on their appearance. They also tell me that they fit much better in clothes, and find it easier to exercise and stay healthy. Body lift surgery is one of my favorite procedures because the patients are always so thrilled with the results”.

Although the benefits of body lift surgery are great, it is certainly not like a trip to the spa. The surgery requires general anesthetic to keep patients comfortable and asleep during the body lift procedure. At the Marina Outpatient Surgery Center, only board certified MD anesthesiologists are used for maximum patient safety. Once the patient is asleep, the excess skin is then removed using incisions carefully placed so they may be hidden under small bathing suits. All stitches are dissolvable and under the skin, so no suture removal is required.

After surgery, patients spend a day or more in an outpatient recovery center for careful assistance and monitoring. There are temporary drains, dressings and compression garments that help to speed up recovery. It can take a number of weeks before patients are back to full activities, but once the healing is complete, the transformation is equivalent to removing someone’s baggy sweats and fitting them into a custom tailored designer suit.. What a life altering change!

To determine if you are a candidate for a Body Lift or aesthetic enhancement, please call (877) 298-9915 and schedule a consultation today! Mention this article and your consult will be free!

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