Genetics and lifestyle choices combine to create our body shapes. Some people develop significant laxity of the tissues of their abdomen, sides, backs, and thighs. This happens to some people who lose a lot of weight. It also happens to people who have always been near their ideal weight but whose tissues are just naturally loose. When lax, hanging tissue becomes bothersome it may be possible to have that tissue removed.
Dr. Kunkel offers body lift surgery to patients from Fort Worth, Keller, Southlake, Mansfield, Arlington, and across North Texas. Fort Worth physicians have recognized Dr. Kunkel’s outstanding care of patients and have voted him a TopDoc 19 times!
Circumferential Body Contouring
Tummy tuck surgery addresses the front, and to a lesser degree the sides, of the abdomen. When loose tissues of the lower back, outer thighs, and buttocks are bothersome, tummy tuck surgery may not be enough. In these situations a more circumferential approach may work best. Lower body lift, belt lipectomy , and corset body lift are different operations that may be done to address these concerns.
Lower Body Lift And Belt Lipectomy Surgery
Lower body lift surgery and belt lipectomy surgery are similar procedures. In both procedures the front of the abdomen is addressed by doing an abdominoplasty (“tummy tuck”). Skin and fat of the flanks and back are removed in both procedures as well. This also results in the outer thighs and buttocks being lifted.
The biggest difference between a lower body lift and a belt lipectomy is where the incisions are made. In a lower body lift the incisions on the side and back are lower than in a belt lipectomy. This may work best for the patient who has bulges of loose skin over the hips and upper thighs. Lower body lift surgery creates more substantial changes in the outer thigh than belt lipectomy surgery. Belt lipectomy incisions are higher on the sides and the back. Making the incision higher on the side and back may help create a more tailored, sculpted waist than a lower body lift.
Corset Body Lift
Corset body lift is different than lower body lift and belt lipectomy operations. A corset body lift is done through incisions on the front; there are no incisions on the back. The loose abdominal skin is pulled tightly together in the midline of the abdomen from between the breasts to the pubic hairline. Pulling the tissue together in the midline of the abdomen allows tissues on the back to be pulled forward too. Extra skin and fat are also removed from beneath the breasts and from the lower abdomen. This results in a “corset” look to the central trunk. A corset body lift provides dramatic changes in the look of the abdomen and trunk, all accomplished through incisions on the front.
Customized Treatment For Optimal Results
A visit with Dr. Kunkel and his staff usually takes about 2 hours. The Vectra 3-dimensional photography system is used as part of the consultation. Photographs are taken of your abdomen and back. The Vectra software reconstructs those photographs into three-dimensional images, allowing you to see yourself from angles that are almost impossible to see in a mirror. After listening to and examining you, Dr. Kunkel customizes a treatment plan uniquely designed to you. The consultation is not a quick “in-and-out” visit with a random office staff person. You will have substantial interaction directly with Dr. Kunkel. We also encourage you to read this booklet, written by Dr. Kunkel to enhance your understanding of the options.
What Is Recovery Like After Body Lift Surgery?
These types of body contour procedures may take 4 to 6 hours. Patients typically spend one night in the surgical facility. Intravenous medications help minimize nausea and discomfort. The nursing staff will get you out of bed that evening and helps you become stable on your feet. Devices are placed on your legs before surgery to intermittently squeeze the calves, and these are left on overnight. While staying overnight helps keep you comfortable, Dr. Kunkel believes it also is safer than going home the same day. Dr. Kunkel is keenly focused on your safety before, during, and after these types of procedures.
Rather than having a lot of pain, Dr. Kunkel’s patients more commonly talk about feeling tired and “drained” for about five days. Their tissues are usually pulled so tight that they actually walk in a “bent-over” position during those first several days. Beginning about 5 days after surgery some energy returns and they begin to walk more upright. Most patients take two to three weeks off from work. Women with young children need to make arrangements for someone else to be driving their kids to school and other activities for at least the first week. Compression garments are often worn for two months or more. Strenuous activities like running, bicycling, working out, and swimming should be avoided for about six weeks.
Do You Have Before And After Body Lift Photographs?
What Are The Risks Of Body Lift Surgery?
Every surgical procedure includes risks. All operations, from hernia repairs to cesarean sections to body contour procedures include risks of infection, bleeding, blood clots, and poor healing. Issues that are more unique to body lift and belt lipectomy surgery include the possibility that the belly button could end up in a slightly different position than it had been before surgery, the scar on one side of the abdomen or back could be higher than the scar on the other side of the abdomen or back, and it is possible to have long-term numbness in the lower abdomen or even the upper thigh. With the corset body lift there is also a risk of some distortion of the breasts.
How long does a lower body lift take?
The length of your lower body lift with Dr. Kunkel varies depending upon the amount of tissue he is trimming and repositioning. A lower body lift can take anywhere from 4 to 7 hours. Patients will spend at least one night in the surgical facility.
Who is an ideal candidate for lower body lift surgery?
After a person has lost a significant amount of weight it’s almost impossible for their skin to tighten down to the new underlying slimmer contours — the elasticity has been compromised by being overstretched for too long. That can be truly discouraging for a person who has had bariatric surgery or simply done the hard work required to lose a lot of weight. That’s where a body lift with Kunkel can come in.
To have a body lift, a person should have lost between 30 to 50 percent of his or her peak body weight. There should be loose, drooping skin and tissue across the abdomen, probably the thighs, buttocks, breasts, upper arms, and other areas. Your weight should have been stable for a period of time, usually two years, to ensure you will not regain weight after this surgery. This also allows your skin to adjust as much as it can before any surgery is considered.
These are involved surgeries targeting multiple areas, so patients need to be in good overall health, both to handle the stress of the surgery and the subsequent recovery. You shouldn’t smoke, as this can interfere with your incision healing.
Good candidates also need to be realistic about what these procedures can achieve. Yes, your contours will be slimmed to your new smaller body shape, but there will be some lengthy incision scars. Body lifts also involve a difficult recovery.
How will I know which body contouring procedures I would need?
During your consultation with Dr. Kunkel, the two of you will discuss the areas of your body you would like to address. You’ll discuss the goals you hope to achieve with this surgery or combination of surgeries. Dr. Kunkel will examine your body to ascertain the degree of sagging tissue involved, along with where the pockets of fat would need to be removed.
Dr. Kunkel adapts every lower body lift to the patient. Different incision locations may be used depending on the individual circumstance. During your consultation, the two of you will decide what will work best for you; this isn’t something you need to figure out on your own.
How can I prepare for a lower body lift?
Preparation for this surgery is mostly about preparing for your recovery. When Dr. Kunkel combines a tummy tuck, thigh lift, and buttock lift into a single surgery session, you’ll be happy there’s only a single recovery, but that recovery will be involved. You need to prepare for that.
First, you’ll take the usual steps you would before any major surgery. You’ll stop taking anti-inflammatory medications, aspirin, blood thinners, and most supplements because they can all lead to increased bleeding. If you smoke, you’ll need to stop at least six weeks prior to and for a few weeks after, as smoking impacts your circulation negatively, which impedes healing. Better yet just stop for good as a part of these major changes you’re making.
Before you can have a lower body lift with Dr. Kunkel, your weight will need to be stable for a few months. If you’ve had bariatric surgery, we will work with your bariatric surgeon to determine weight goals and final weight plateaus. This is important because extra weight loss will only create additional sagging, loose skin down the road.
You’ll need to plan for someone to drive you to your surgery and drive you back home after your night or two in the hospital. And then you’ll need someone to help out for at least two weeks.
If you have young children, plan on having someone take over for at least two weeks. You won’t be able to lift anything much heavier than your TV remote for a few weeks. And that’s about all you’ll want to do. You won’t be able to climb stairs. No chores. No worrying about stuff around the house. You need to take it completely easy, preferably for two full weeks, and then take it slowly from there.
You’ll need to create a really comfortable recovery nest. If you sleep upstairs, this will need to be downstairs. Make this area as comfortable as possible. Stock it with the remote, as many good books as you can find, lots of pillows, and a comforter or two.
Anything you need to do, from filling your pain medication prescription to any household matters, needs to be completed before you head in for your surgery. You should have nothing to do and little to worry or stress about when you return home.
To that end, elicit meals from friends and relatives that can be frozen and used. You can make these beforehand, too, of course, but that’s much less fun! Fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins assist in healing, so the fridge should have plenty of them. Salt increases swelling, so avoid it.
Bottom line? Think of making your recovery as comfortable and as easy as possible. That will guarantee the best final results. This is not the time of your life to rush your recovery.
How soon after having a lower body lift can I resume daily activities such as driving?
For these procedures you should plan on taking at least two to three weeks off work. If your job is at all physical, that timeframe would lengthen to 3 to 4 weeks. Your mobility will be limited, as you would assume, due to your lengthy incisions. In from 2 to 3 weeks you can begin to resume light activities. Strenuous exercise will need to wait for at least 6 weeks. Driving is an individual thing. Some patients can resume driving in 2 weeks, but others aren’t comfortable with the twisting movements and wait a little longer.
Just as every lower body lift is unique to the patient, so is the patient’s recovery. As Dr. Kunkel observes how you are recovering, he can give you the green light for different aspects of your normal activities.
"This is my 2nd time using dr. Kunkel and his office and I would not recommend any other doctor!
His staff is amazing from A-Z, his bedside manner is very professional, my surgery was so easy with little to no pain and results are phenomenal!!!" -- Megan D.