Following weight loss, you may find that your body hasn’t regained the shape that you had hoped. There may be excess skin or a lack of muscle tone, despite diet and exercise. A lower body lift can give you the contour you desire!

About Lower Body Lifts

At Michaels Aesthetic and Reconstructive Plastic Surgery, we congratulate you on your weight loss achievement. As a result of your significant weight loss, you may have loose excess skin that has lost its elastic quality and now hangs off the body, unable to shrink back to a smaller size or shape. A lower body lift can correct these unfortunate side effects. Significant weight loss can also greatly weaken or damage the underlying tissue structures, making it hard or nearly impossible to restore muscle tone. Dr. Michaels treats many post-weight loss patients who are disappointed to discover that they still do not have the contour they desire after working so hard to lose their excess weight.

A lower body lift is the main procedure that Dr. Michaels offers his weight loss patients in Bethesda and Fairfax to optimize the contour of their midsection. Lower body lift surgery is comprised of multiple procedures designed to contour the lower half of the body. With a lower body lift, Dr. Michaels eliminates loose excess skin and repairs the underlying tissue structures throughout the abdomen, lateral thighs and buttocks.

The term “lower body” can often be confusing, as this procedure is sometimes also referred to as “belt lipectomy.” It is important for you to know that although these terms are often used interchangeably, they are not the same, and you will have different results depending on the technique performed and your plastic surgeon.

Procedure

When undergoing a lower body lift with Joseph Michaels, MD, FACS, you are in experienced hands. Dr. Michaels is a skilled body contouring surgeon, having completed one of the few advanced fellowships in the United States dedicated to body contouring surgery and post-weight loss plastic surgery. Dr. Michaels has helped hundreds of patients, like you, who are unable to realize the full extent of their weight loss success due to excess, loose skin. During your consultation, the compassionate surgeon assesses your anatomical needs and attentively listens to your aesthetic concerns. He then uses this information to create a surgical treatment plan that will satisfy your distinct needs and goals.

Depending on your unique treatment plan, the specifics of lower body lift surgery may vary. However, it is always performed under general anesthesia, as an inpatient procedure requiring you to stay one night (two nights, in some circumstances) at a medical facility. The duration of surgery is five to eight hours, depending on the complexity of your procedure.

A lower body lift consists of an abdominoplasty, or “tummy tuck,” a lateral thigh lift and a buttock lift. The procedure begins with the patient on their stomach to allow Dr. Michaels to contour the buttock region. If needed, Dr. Michaels first performs liposuction of the buttocks and lower back to remove any residual fat that may remain. He will then make an incision along the upper border of the buttock to allow for excess skin removal. The goal of the buttock lift is not only to remove and tighten the skin of the buttock, but to leave an optimal shape and contour.

One of the potential downsides of a buttock lift in after-weight loss patients is the appearance of a “flattened” buttock. To minimize this effect and to create a greater degree of outward projection, Dr. Michaels uses several specialized techniques. This includes the selective preservation of buttock tissue that most plastic surgeons discard and the use of this tissue to maintain and enhance buttock projection. Dr. Michaels will also transfer fat removed by liposuction from other distant areas to the specific areas of the buttock that will optimize projection. These techniques are also known as gluteal, or buttock, auto-augmentation. Following the auto-augmentation, Dr. Michaels will elevate the buttocks and remove any excess skin. The incisions are closed with absorbable sutures.

body lift procedureDr. Michaels then addresses the lateral thighs. The thighs are contoured by using a special instrument that releases the lateral thigh tissue from its adhesions from lateral pelvis (hip). It is this maneuver that allows for the true lifting effect of a lower body lift. He may also perform liposuction as necessary to remove any unwanted fat. Dr. Michaels lifts the lateral thigh skin and excises any excess skin before reapproximating the skin with absorbable sutures.

The patient is then placed on his or her back, and an abdominoplasty, or “tummy tuck,” is performed. (If needed, Dr. Michaels will also perform liposuction to remove any residual fat from under the skin.) A tummy tuck involves creating an incision in the pubic area that runs horizontally from one hipbone to the other. This incision will connect to the incision from the buttock lift, completing the circumferential incision. The abdominal skin is elevated to the level of the ribcage, exposing the underlying muscle layer that has been weakened and potentially separated. He uses internal stitches to repair the abdominal wall muscle fascia before removing the excess skin and closing the remaining skin with dissolvable sutures.. He then makes an additional incision so he can reposition the navel, ensuring it is aligned with the new contour of the abdomen.

Many patients choose to have their abdomen, lateral thighs and buttocks corrected during a single procedure, but a lower body lift can be performed in two stages. During the first stage, a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) is performed. Once the patient has adequately recovered (usually taking a minimum of three months), a lateral thigh and buttock lift is performed as the second stage. The incisions from both procedures are merged, leaving a circumferential incision line.

Before & After Photos

Recovery

Given that Dr. Michaels treats multiple areas of the body and uses multiple contouring techniques during a lower body lift, the recovery period following the procedure may be lengthier and more intense than the recovery period that follows other after-weight loss cosmetic surgery procedures. You will remain in the hospital overnight to ensure that you remain comfortable and to allow the nursing staff to help you ambulate the evening of your procedure. Patients will often have drains in place following their procedure.

You will need to take about 10-14 days off from work or your normal schedule. During this time, you should rest as much as possible and abstain from any strenuous activity, including heavy lifting. You will need to take short walks around the house periodically to ensure proper circulation in the lower extremities.

The treated area may be swollen, bruised, sore or numb. These symptoms are common and should gradually subside with time. It often takes eight to 12 weeks for the swelling to resolve completely and for the patient to realize his or her final result. Dr. Michaels will provide you with thorough care instructions prior to the day of your surgery, so you are fully prepared.

Quick Facts

Length

5-8 hours (depending on the extent of the procedure)

Anesthesia

General

In/outpatient

Inpatient, with 1-2 night stay

Side effects

Temporary swelling, bruising, tightness, and some pain

Risks

Pain, bleeding, infection, asymmetry, damage to nerves (in rare cases), incomplete improvement, recurrent laxity

Recovery

10-14 days: back at work. 2-3 weeks: light exercise only. 3-6 weeks: more strenuous activity allowed. 8-12 weeks: swelling resolves and patient can resume normal activity.

Duration of results

Proper diet and exercise can prolong results

If you would like to learn more about the lower body lift, click here or call (301) 468-5991 in Bethesda, Maryland or (703) 957-8610 in Fairfax, Virginia to schedule a consultation.