Also known as belt lipectomy
Dramatic weight loss, weight fluctuation or natural aging frequently results in sagging skin in areas below the waistline. Lower-body-lift surgery tightens and sculpts the buttocks, back of the thighs, outer thighs, inner thighs, hips and abdomen. Loose skin that looks aesthetically displeasing or causes mobility restrictions is removed. A lower body lift is appropriate if you are near your ideal weight and may precede or follow an upper body lift procedure. Every year, thousands of people undergo successful lower-body-lift surgery and are pleased with the results.
These are the top three pros and cons to weigh when considering a lower body lift. If you want to focus on those specifically unique to you, please consult with your aesthetic plastic surgeon.
Are you a good candidate for a lower body lift?
After you’ve struggled to achieve a healthy weight or have undergone bariatric surgery, you may still feel frustrated by your appearance if you have excess skin along the lower abdomen, relaxed abdominal wall muscles and loose and wrinkled skin along the thighs and buttocks. A lower body lift, which leaves a circumferential scar hidden in the bikini line, can dramatically improve areas of sagging skin and/or cellulite below the waistline. The following are some common reasons why you may want to consider a lower body lift:
If you are in good general health and have a positive attitude and realistic expectations, you are most likely a good candidate for this procedure.
A complete lower body lift has the advantage of treating the buttocks, abdomen, waist, hips and thighs in one procedure. Basically, the lower body lift extends the tummy tuck incision completely around the lower torso, which allows your surgeon to lift or resuspend the thighs and tighten the buttocks as well as to execute the traditional tummy tuck. The length and the pattern of incisions depend on how much extra skin is removed and where that skin is located. Your plastic surgeon will do his or her best to take your incision preferences into consideration. Here is a typical scenario for performing this procedure, although your surgeon may use a variation:
In this single procedure, incisions extend around the body to remove excess skin and fat from the abdomen, outer thighs, buttocks, hips and waist.
Liposuction combined with lower body lift
You may benefit from liposuction in addition to a lower body lift to achieve the best possible contour. Liposuction can smooth and contour areas separate from the effects of the body lift excisions. A thorough discussion and examination are essential to determine a comprehensive surgical plan.
Abdominoplasty or inner thigh lift
You can combine the lower body lift with abdominal contouring, otherwise known as a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) or combine the lower body lift with an inner thigh lift if your abdomen does not require contouring or if you have already had an abdominoplasty.
Further weight loss or liposuction
Because the lower body is lifted and suspended to the skin closure, excessive heaviness in the thighs and buttocks at the time of surgery may prevent a long-lasting effect. In such cases, your surgeon may recommend further weight loss before you undergo a lower body lift. If this is not feasible, you may undergo liposuction to thin the thighs and buttocks before undergoing excisional body lifting.
The lower body lift scar, which extends around the circumference of your torso, is designed to be hidden in your underwear or bikini. Your surgeon can place it higher or lower based on your preference.
The incision used for lower body lift produces a permanent, noticeable scar around the entire lower trunk. The scar is placed low on the stomach, just above the pubic hair area, and extends toward the hip bones. At the hip bone, the scar gently curves toward the top of the buttock crease to meet the incision from the other side. Your scar placement is determined by how you wear your clothing and your scar will be easily hidden by clothing.
It’s important to choose your surgeon for based on:
Members of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery are experienced and qualified to perform your aesthetic procedure. Learn how to select a surgeon.
After finding a board-certified plastic surgeon in your area who is experienced in performing lower body lifts, you will need to make an office appointment to set up your consultation. Generally, because of the in-depth nature of the consultation, there is a cost associated with the initial visit.
During your initial consultation, you will have the opportunity to discuss your cosmetic goals. Your surgeon will evaluate you as a candidate for lower-body-lift surgery and clarify what a lower body lift can do for you. Understanding your goals and medical condition, both alternative and additional treatments may be considered (see related procedures).
You should come to the consultation prepared to discuss your complete medical history and answer the following questions:
Your surgeon may also:
Based on your goals, physical characteristics and the surgeon’s training and experience, your surgeon will share recommendations and information with you, including:
For a general list of questions to ask your surgeon about his or her background, to find out about plastic surgery safety and to plan your procedure, visit the Planning Toolkit.
We developed these questions to help you:
It is important for you to take an active role in your surgery, so please use this list of questions as a starting point for your initial consultation:
Your surgeon will provide thorough preoperative instructions, answer any questions you may have, take a detailed medical history and perform a physical exam to determine your fitness for surgery.
In advance of your procedure, your surgeon will ask you to:
What can I expect on the day of lower-body-lift surgery?
When you wake up, you may find the following:
Your surgeon will discuss how long it will be before you can return to your normal level of activity and work. After surgery, you and your caregiver will receive detailed instructions about your postsurgical care, including information about:
See options for short-term recovery locations in Aftercare and Recovery (Planning Toolkit).
Immediately after your lower body lift
Generally, you can expect to be bandaged and wearing compression garments, and you may have some surgical drains. You will likely spend at least two days in the hospital or another setting in which you are receiving skilled nursing care. During this time you will learn how to take care of your drains and feel comfortable walking and moving. Once you are comfortable with oral pain medications, you will be discharged.
Recovery time frame after a lower body lift
Follow all postsurgical instructions, including guidelines about bandages, drains, taking an antibiotic, if prescribed and the level of activity that is safe.
The lift effect from lower-body-lift surgery is permanent, for the most part. The contouring achieved by removal of excess skin and fat is permanent. The undermining, advancement and tightening of the skin of the thighs and buttocks is also permanent. Naturally, there will be some relaxation of the skin early after surgery and the skin and connective tissues will loosen and sag gradually as you age.
Maintain a relationship with your aesthetic plastic surgeon
For safety, as well as the most beautiful and healthy outcome, it’s important to return to your plastic surgeon’s office for follow-up evaluation at prescribed times and whenever you notice any changes in your lower body lift. Do not hesitate to contact your surgeon when you have any questions or concerns.
The cost of a lower body lift varies from doctor to doctor, from one geographic area to another, and with the technique that is performed. Generally speaking, insurance companies will not pay for a lower body lift. Insurance companies will only pay for procedures they (not your doctors) have determined are "medically necessary" and usually have strict criteria for each procedure to be covered. For example, they may pay for a panniculectomy (removal of the overhanging “apron” of abdominal tissue) if they feel that your pannus is interfering with your functioning. Many surgeons offer patient financing plans to make the procedure more affordable.
See the national average for physician fees per procedure.
These numbers only reflect the physician/surgeon fees last year and do not include fees for the surgical facility, anesthesia, medical tests, prescriptions, surgical garments or other miscellaneous costs related to surgery.
Choose your surgeon based on quality, training and experience—not cost.
See why ASAPS members are widely recognized for upholding the highest standards in the area of aesthetic plastic surgery by viewing their basic credentials, training and certifications.
Fortunately, significant complications from lower body lifts are infrequent. Your specific risks for lower-body-lift surgery will be discussed during your consultation.
All surgical procedures have some degree of risk. Some of the potential complications of all surgeries are:
You can help minimize certain risks by following the advice and instructions of your board-certified plastic surgeon, both before and after your lower-body-lift surgery.