How to Get Rid of Extra Skin After Weight Loss? Lower Body Lift Explained

Posted November 22, 2021
What to do for saggy skin after weight loss

You've lost a lot of weight, and you're still adjusting your clothes or feeling limited on what to wear because you need to make room for the extra skin from the weight loss. You hope to achieve a more contoured look around your waist and thighs, but even working out doesn't help eliminate the sagging skin. 

Now that you have lost all this body fat, what do you do about the stretched-out and extra skin? It's no longer fat that you're dealing with, meaning liposuction may not be the solution. You are dealing with excess skin that needs to be removed surgically. 

So what are the cosmetic surgery procedures that can help a person who has lost a massive amount of weight have a more toned and tighter look around their waistline and backside? Medical experts call this type of reconstructive surgery after a major weight loss, a lower body lift. 

We will explain what exactly involves a lower body lift and what makes a person a good candidate for this body contouring procedure. 

Why Do I Have Extra Skin After A Major Weight Loss? 

When the body gains a significant amount of weight, it can take a toll on the skin by stretching it to a point where it can damage or compromise the inner layer of skin called the dermis. The dermis layer holds collagen and elastin proteins, giving structure and firmness to the skin.  

If the weight gain lasts for a period, it could mean a higher possibility of the elastin fibers being damaged and stretched out, resulting in extra sagging skin. There could be other factors that can cause the skin to be loose after weight loss. 

  • Age, the older we get, the less collagen and elastin produces in our skin.
  • Losing over 100 lbs of weight can create extra skin. 
  • Genetics can play a role in how your body and skin respond to a massive weight loss. 

Non-surgical options such as ultrasound therapy or cryolipolysis treatment, also known as CoolSculpting, may not be the most effective way to address the amount of extra skin. 

A body contouring surgery like a lower body lift may be the optimal procedure that can help remove all of the extra skin that a skin-tightening treatment can't resolve. 

What Are All The Procedures With a Lower Body Lift?   

The Plastic Reconstructive Surgery Global Open report defines a lower body lift is an elective surgery that focuses on excess skin around the following areas: 

  • Abdomen 
  • Flank (sides of the body between the ribs and hip) 
  • Buttocks
  • Thighs

These are the key areas that can be affected by a significant weight loss that, even with exercise and non-surgical treatments, can't help resolve the extra skin from hanging. 

Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck) 

Abdominoplasty, commonly known as a "tummy tuck," aims to tighten the skin around the abdomen area by removing the extra skin. A traditional tummy tuck makes an incision from one side of the hip to the other and goes around the belly button that is ultimately repositioned.

With a lower body lift, a circumferential tummy tuck is performed, addressing the flank, backside, and abdomen. This procedure is also known as the "belt lipectomy," when the surgeon makes an incision all the way around the beltline to remove the excess skin around the abdomen, as well as the backside and flank area.

A circumferential tummy tuck takes longer to perform than a standard tummy tuck due to multiple reconstructed areas. The recovery time is also longer, with an overnight stay in a recovery center. 

Have a question about a cosmetic procedure? Try our "ask a doctor" feature. Get your question answered by a board-certified cosmetic practitioner. 

Butt Lift

A circumferential tummy tuck addresses parts of the extra skin at the top of the buttocks with an incision made at the side of the hips. This is considered an upper butt lift; the skin and muscles are pulled tighter and repositioned, making the skin tighter and taut.

The recovery would be the same process as the circumferential tummy tuck since most of the lift is done in the same procedure. 

Thigh Lift

A thigh lift also referred to as thighplasty, removes the extra skin around the inner or outer parts of the thighs. A board-certified surgeon will advise which type of thigh lift is needed. There are three different ways to perform a thigh lift. 

  • Inner thigh lift focuses on the inner thigh, an area known to cause skin irritation when rubbing against each other; this procedure helps remove extra sagging skin.  
  • Bilateral thigh lift tightens the skin on the front and outside of the leg. An incision starts at the top of the leg to the lower edge of an underwear line. 
  • Medial thigh lift focuses on tightening skin on the upper part of the inner thigh. An incision starts from the back of the groin to the crease of the buttock.  

Recovery from a thigh lift may coincide with the circumferential tummy tuck with an overnight stay at a recovery center. Patients are recommended not to move their legs too much and expect to refrain from any normal activities for 7-14 days. 

Am I a Good Candidate for a Lower Lift?  

A lower body lift ultimately consists of three cosmetic procedures done all at once, making candidacy not as straightforward compared to a patient going through one procedure. 

Here are some key factors to consider before deciding on a lower lift surgery. 

  • Maintained and stabilized weight for at least 12 months. 
  • Exhausted all options to lose body fat at the localized areas. 
  • You have reached your ideal weight. 
  • You do not have any plans of getting pregnant. 
  • If you have diabetes or heart disease, the procedure may increase surgical risks or impair healing. 

How Do I Start My Body Contouring Process? 

A procedure involving multiple reconstruction areas will require working with a surgeon who specializes in various body contouring procedures. With such a complex surgery, it would be in your best interest to interview multiple cosmetic surgeons and request to see "before and after photos" of their patients. 

You've worked so hard to lose the weight, make sure you choose the right surgeon to help you achieve your ultimate body look and goal. 

To find a board-certified cosmetic surgeon experienced with various body contouring procedures, take a look at our "Find a Doctor" navigation tool. 

- VM


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