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Full Body Lift - Body Contouring After Major Weight Loss 

Significant weight loss following weight reduction surgery or dieting and exercise can result in excess skin and tissue that cannot “shrink” to be in proportion with the new body size.  Skin that was overstretched from weight gain may not have enough elasticity to adapt and contour to your new body size due to the lose of volume associated with the weight reduction.  Instead, loose sagging skin and skin folds may develop.  A full body lift is a cosmetic surgery procedure that removes excess tissue to create a body contour that is appropriate for the new body size.
After a substantial weight loss, severely stretched unsupported skin may be especially apparent on the upper arms, abdomen, breasts, buttocks, groin, and thighs.  The waist may develop an “over-hang” that extends from the front to the lower back.  Breasts may flatten and droop and the thighs and buttocks may sag.  Not only can the condition be unattractive, but infections can develop in the damp skin folds (skin maceration). 
During your initial consultation, your cosmetic surgeon will perform a general health evaluation and examine your excess body tissue, as well as your expectations.  Measurements will be recorded to help plan your procedure.  It is common for “before” photos to be taken for your medical records.  You should tell your doctor about your concerns and expectations.  Body contouring procedures are very individualized, and a specific plan will be developed for you based upon your goal and appearance.
Your cosmetic surgeon will work closely with your doctor(s) to determine when the surgery should take place.  Full body contouring surgery can take place once your weight has stabilized.  A full body lift is usually completed in a series of surgical procedures over the period of about two years. 

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Body contouring surgery may be performed as an outpatient or inpatient surgery, depending upon the type or combination of procedures planned.  The surgeries may be performed at an accredited plastic surgeon’s outpatient surgical facility, hospital, or outpatient surgery center.  It can be performed with general anesthesia or IV sedation.  You should plan to have a person drive you home and stay with you for the first night.
The following are common full body lift procedures.  You may receive your surgeries in a series of treatments over time, or may have more that one procedure at a time.  Your doctor will discuss the process with you.
Arm Lift

An arm lift removes excess skin and fat deposits from the upper arm area between the elbow and armpit (axilla).  An incision is usually made along the inner side or back of the arm to hide the incision as much as possible.  Excess skin and tissue is removed surgically and/or with liposuction.  Deep sutures are used to reshape the upper arm, creating a firm toned appearance and minimize the scars.
Breast Lift
After weight loss, the breasts can become flat or sag.  A breast lift removes excess tissue and reshapes the breast and nipple to create a more natural uplifted and firmer appearance.  There are several incision methods that may be used depending on your desired outcome and the amount of excess skin associated with your breasts.  Breast implants may be inserted at the time of a breast lift or later to add fullness and firmness to the upper half of the breast.
Lower Body Lift
A lower body lift is used to correct the appearance of sagging buttocks, thighs, hips, the groin area, and the abdomen.  The procedures may be performed together or in stages.  Incision patterns vary depending on the amount of excess skin and the area(s) being lifted.  Excess tissue and fat are removed and the lower body is “lifted” resulting in a firmer toned silhouette.
Thigh Lift
A thigh lift corrects the appearance of the inner, outer, or mid thigh.  The incision varies according to the area being treated.  Excess fat and tissue are removed surgically, with liposuction, or both.  The result is firmer proportioned thighs.
Following the surgical procedure, temporary drainage tubes may be placed beneath the skin to help reduce swelling and any fluid collection to help speed your recovery.  You may wear an elastic bandage or compression garment while you heal.  You should follow your surgeon’s instructions carefully while you recover.  It is common to have temporary movement or lifting restrictions early in your recovery period.
The results of your procedure are immediate and will become more visible as swelling subsides.  It is common for the surgical procedures to span a period of about two years.  When your surgeries are complete, the results are relatively permanent.  You can ensure your results by maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle.

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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on April 13th, 2016. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit www.iHealthSpot.com.