Body LiftDr. Capella has personally performed over 1500 body lifts. He has the largest published series of body lifts in the world.
Background On Body Lifts
A body lift is a combination of several procedures that usually includes an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck), thigh and buttock lift. The technique is also often referred to as a “lower body lift” or “belt lipectomy”. Like the face, the remainder of the body suffers the consequences of time, gravity and in some cases significant weight loss. While some areas are affected more than others, skin wrinkling and loss of tone occur throughout the body. To achieve a balanced and pleasing aesthetic result, many patients seeking a tummy tuck may also need both a thigh and buttock lift. A body lift is a very powerful body rejuvenating procedure that perhaps is underutilized in the Unites States. The ideal candidate for this operation is an individual with excess skin along the lower abdomen and relaxed abdominal wall muscles, who also has cellulite or loose and wrinkled skin along the thighs and buttocks. Individuals who have undesirable skin irregularities along the abdomen, thighs or buttocks secondary to liposuction may benefit greatly from this procedure. This single operation can have a dramatic effect on a person’s body. Along with tightening of abdominal wall muscles and removal of excess skin from the abdomen, thighs and buttocks, the procedure often incorporates liposuction to achieve balance between the torso and thighs. The scar required for the procedure is placed very low on the abdomen, generally in the pubic area, runs higher on the thighs to preserve the aesthetic appeal of the thigh, and continues along the lower back, just above the buttocks. The scar, which usually heals very well, is hidden by most contemporary underwear and Bikini swim wear. Dr. Capella will perform a body lift along with upper body and inner thigh procedures for appropriate candidates.
Dr Capella’s patients find a body lift to be very gratifying because of its ability to improve both body contour and skin tone. Most individuals are not aware of the operation and only first recognize its potential when during consultation Dr. Capella provides upward traction on the thighs and buttocks with the patient standing in front of a mirror.
Body Lift Consultation
At the first office visit, Dr. Capella will take a medical history and perform a focused physical examination. Medical conditions such as bleeding disorders, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, asthma, hernias, or a history of smoking will be of particular concern to Dr. Capella. Information regarding medications you are currently taking or have taken in the past, including all kinds of pain medications, will be requested by the doctor. Your height and weight will be recorded. One should know that this is not an operation for obesity. Patients who have scars from previous surgery in some cases may not be candidates for this operation because of the risk of surgical complications due to alterations in the blood supply to the skin. Dr. Capella will determine this at the time of the consultation. He will also delineate the site of the planned incision for a body lift with you standing in front of a mirror.
Body Lift Pre-Operative Visit
You will meet again with Dr. Capella approximately two weeks prior to surgery at which time any remaining questions you may have regarding the operation will be answered. You will be asked to discontinue medications that could lead to bleeding during the surgery. The specific medications will be reviewed with you at the visit. You will then be asked to sign a consent for the surgical procedure. Dr. Capella performs body lifts with general anesthesia at the hospital.
Photographs will be taken of your abdomen, thighs and buttocks and any other areas upon which Dr. Capella will be operating. Specific instruction regarding the date and time of your procedure will be given to you. You are not to eat or drink anything after midnight the night before surgery. Exceptions may be made for certain individuals. You should wear loose fitting clothing that will wash easily in the event that they are soiled. Do not wear jewelry, contact lenses or bring valuables to the hospital. Remove all body jewelry from pierced body parts; this can interfere with the procedure and may represent a safety threat to you because of the use of electrocautery during the procedure. Do not shave or wax your abdomen prior to surgery; this may increase your risk of infection. Any shaving that is necessary will be done the day of surgery.
The balance of your surgical fee is due at this pre-operative visit.
Finally, Dr. Capella will write prescriptions for preventative antibiotics to decrease your risk of infection and a narcotic analgesic for post-operative pain relief. The antibiotcs should be started after surgery.
The Day of Body Lift Surgery
At the hopsital on the day of your procedure, Dr. Capella will place skin marking on your abdomen, thighs and buttocks to direct him during the procedure. The anesthesiologist will review your medical history and will then administer an anesthetic.
A body lift takes approximately 3 hours, depending on the extent of the work. The procedure begins with elevation of the abdominal skin and fat from the abdominal muscles up to the level of your lower rib cage, like lifting an apron. A cut is made around the navel, which is left alone. The vertical abdominal muscles are then tightened with heavy sutures from your xiphoid (solar plexus) to your pubic bone. This provides a more firm abdominal wall and a narrower waistline. You are then turned on your side and the excess skin along the thighs and buttock is elevated and removed. The skin edges along the thighs and buttocks are carefully closed. You are returned to a flat position and the skin apron along the abdomen is pulled down to the pubic area. The excess skin here is removed. After a new opening is made for the navel, the skin is stitched. In some cases, liposuction will make up part of the body lift to further improve contour. Drain tubes are placed under the skin to evacuate any fluid which may ooze after the operation. The drains exit in the area of the pubic hair through tiny holes. These drains are removed approximately one to two weeks after surgery. The closure of the skin is done with dissolving-type suture material, which does not require removal.
Sterile dressings and a binder are applied over your incisions at the conclusion of the operation. Most patients undergoing a body lift alone are discharged to a nursing facility the day of surgery. Patients are then usually discharged home from the nursing facility the day after surgery. This varies from patient to patient depending on the extent of the procedure. It is necessary to have an adult to drive you home and be with you during the first 24 hours after your return home. Patients cannot be discharged to the company of a minor or to a car service. Patients from out of the tri-state area should plan to stay locally for approximately two weeks.
The Body Lift Recovery Period
For the first few days, you are likely to feel discomfort which can be controlled with pain medication. You will feel like you need to be flexed at the waist to be comfortable. Gradually you will be able to stand upright. We suggest you begin walking as soon as possible although rest is very important as well.
Showering is permitted 48 hours after surgery at which time the binder and dressings may be removed. You will be seen back in the office approximately one week after the date of surgery at which time the drains are assessed for possible removal. Dr. Capella prefers to only remove two drains at each office visit. In most cases, the drains are all removed by two weeks following surgery. Individuals with desk-work type employment may resume work approximately two weeks following surgery. Others with work involving prolonged periods of standing or walking may need to wait from 3 to 6 weeks. Patients with employment involving heavy lifting or vigorous activities need to wait at least 6 weeks. Vigorous or aerobic exercises should not be resumed for 6 weeks as well.
It takes several months for the abdomen, thighs and buttocks to regain a normal feel. The swelling will resolve over a period of weeks to months, depending on the extent of your body lift. In general, 75% of the swelling is resolved at 6 weeks, 95% at three months and nearly 100% at 6 months to a year. Temporary numbness, particularly just above the incision in the middle of the abdomen is common. In some instances this numbness may be permanent. You may experience occasional twinges of pain from time to time during this healing phase. The scars often become more red several weeks after surgery and begin to fade 2 to 3 months later. While scars never disappear completely, their appearance is usually very satisfactory. It may take scars as long as 18 months to reach their final appearance.
Risks Associated With Body Lifts
A body lift is a common aesthetic procedure in Dr. Capella’s practice with generally very good results. Nevertheless, there are always risks associated with surgery and specific complications associated with this procedure. Post-operative complications such as infection and blood clots are rare, but can occur. Infections can be treated with drainage and antibiotics, but will prolong your recovery. You can minimize the risk of blood clots by walking as soon after surgery as possible.
Poor healing, which results in conspicuous scars, may necessitate a second operation. Smokers are advised to discontinue smoking three weeks prior to surgery and 3 weeks after surgery. Smoking, among other harmful side effects, decreases blood flow to the skin, increases the risk of complications and delays healing. You can reduce your risk of complications by closely following our instructions before and after the operation, especially with regard to when and how to resume physical activity.
If you have any questions regarding your postoperative instructions, do not hesitate to contact the office.