Arm Lift, Thigh Lift, & Body Lift in Northern VA
While the upper arm may not come to mind when you first think of places the body stores fat, it is one place where fat deposits can linger. The under arm area changes with aging and with changes to weight. Especially after extreme weight loss, extra skin and fat can remain on the upper arm. The skin may sag. This problem may limit the types of clothing that people feel good wearing and can affect self esteem.
The surgeon will create an incision to remove the extra skin and fat. There are a couple incision options, each with pros and cons.
Along the bottom of the hanging skin:
- This option heals well.
- The scar can be seen from behind, which may be visible with some clothing options.
- This scar will not be seen if arms are moved away from the body from the front.
Along the inside of the arm:
- This option will leave a wider scar, and it may remain red.
- This scar will not be seen from behind.
- This scar will be seen if the arms are moved away from the body from the front.
With either incision, sometimes the incision must continue into the armpit or even onto the chest area, depending on how much tissue is to be removed. When the incision extends into the armpit, it takes longer to heal. This is because it will now be in an area that is affected by every arm movement. Once healed, the scar will slowly fade.
Here’s some guidance on the recovery process:
- While you heal, you’ll need to wear a special garment that holds the tissues in place. This must be worn for at least the first few days. There won’t be any stitches.
- You’ll have to keep the arms raised for the first few days of healing. Raising the arms reduces how much the arms swell during healing. It can be useful to sleep with your arms propped up on pillows.
- It will take around three weeks before you will be able to get back to regular activities.
Check out the video below that shows an arm lift with hanging skin incision.
A thigh lift is done when the patient wants a better shape for the thigh. Extra skin is removed and sometimes fat is removed as well. The end result is smoother and better-shaped thighs.
Like most cosmetic surgeries, it can be done alone or combined with other options, like liposuction. The goal is to have thighs that are in proportion to the patient’s shape.
It also has more than one option for the placement of the incision. It can be done on the inner thigh or in the groin area. Which option is best depends on what area you want to target for excess fat and skin removal. In some cases, the surgery will require a T-shaped scar to reach more of the thigh.
Early post op photo after buttock and thigh lift*
The healing process may take up to six to eight weeks. While healing, you can expect:
- Like many cosmetic procedures that change the body shape, a support garment will be needed while you heal. It may need to be worn for up to two months. The exact amount of time will vary based on your situation.
- There will likely be surgical drains that will need to be monitored. After a few days you will need to return to the surgeon to have these removed.
- You will need to change the dressings on the incisions. You will get information on how to do this.
- Bruising, swelling, and soreness is normal. Pain medicine will be prescribed.
- Walking will be tough for at least a week, and the legs will remain tight for probably a few weeks.
- You should plan to be quite careful during the healing process.
Some results will be visible right away, while the full results will be more apparent after the swelling is gone in a few weeks.
As one of the most extensive plastic surgery options, a body lift can have dramatic results. It removes loose skin and some fat. It is most commonly used by those who have lost a lot of weight and have a lot of extra skin to remove.
Body lift after massive weight loss photos*
With amazing results come trade-offs. The surgery also leaves extensive scars. It takes a long time to recover and often needs to be broken into two surgeries. The first addresses the stomach area – performing the tummy tuck – and the second addresses the back. They are performed at least three months apart. Doing it this way is safer and reduces the risk involved. It is also better because the recovery time is shorter for each stage, the patient is not required to stay in the hospital overnight, and there is less risk of the need for a blood transfusion.
The full procedure can be done all at once, but the only upside is that there is one recovery period instead of two—the total time off is the same.
Either way, there are also a lot of risks to consider. While most people having this procedure do not have problems, they are possible and some are quite severe. Be sure you know what could happen.
Smokers have a greater risk of skin loss and wound healing complications with cosmetic plastic surgery. It is best to stop smoking a few weeks before surgery.
Here are some of the risks of body lifts:
- Infection: Antibiotics are used to fight this. That said, sometimes further surgery is needed if it occurs.
- Allergic reactions: Anyone can have a reaction to anesthesia, stitches, tape, or any of the drugs or surgical preparations. Reactions to antibiotics or other medicines are also possible after the procedure. Allergic reactions can be fatal.
- Loss of sensation: Any loss of feeling is probably temporary. However, it is possible that total loss of sensation in the skin may happen and can be permanent.
- Chronic pain: Rarely, nerves get trapped in scar tissue after a body lift. If this happens, chronic pain can result.
- Blood clots or collapsed lung: These complications can be fatal. They may be caused by the anesthesia or other factors. If not fatal, they may still be life-threatening and require hospitalization. With such dire consequences, this is the greatest risk when undergoing a thigh lift or body lift.
- Asymmetric results: The body’s structure will affect the end result. Bone structure, skin tone, skin texture, and muscle tone all play a part in the result. As such, it is possible that the result will be uneven. The scar may also be asymmetric.
- Excessive bleeding: This can be during or after the procedure. You will receive a list of medications to avoid before and after the procedure; some of these can increase bleeding risk. It is important to follow the instructions you get. If bleeding occurs, it may need to be treated or a transfusion may be needed. Internal bleeding may require an emergency surgery to get rid of the blood.
- Delayed healing: With the extensive nature of this surgery, the recovery period is long. While this is expected, it is possible that the surgical wounds themselves may not heal well. This complication is prevalent for those who have had extreme weight loss—including those who lost weight due to weight loss surgery. It is also possible that the ab area may not heal as expected, and some skin could die during the process. This issue may need to be resolved with additional plastic surgery or extensive care for the wounds. This risk is greatly increased for smokers. If you smoke, be sure to stop smoking at least three or four weeks before the surgery.
- Abnormal scarring: While the scar from a body lift is expected to be extensive, sometimes an abnormal scar can result. This may be a different color to the surrounding skin. In some cases, the new scar may even require another surgery to correct.
- Changes to navel: After a tummy tuck (which is part of a body lift), it is possible for the navel to heal in the wrong position. Scarring in the area may be extensive.
- Changes to the contour of the skin: The contour may become irregular. It is also possible for depressed areas to form after surgery.
- Fluid buildup (seroma): When this occurs, it is most commonly found below the surface of the skin in the ab area. It may need to be drained or removed with a needle. It also could require additional procedures. Of all of the risks during and after a body lift, this problem occurs the most often.
Every surgery carries risks. Every person in this situation must decide whether the risk is worth the benefit. That said, usually patients for a body lift do not make the decision lightly. They have extensive needs that the surgery can meet. Other options would not meet their goals. They’re ready to take on the risks. In this situation, the trade-off of the scar and recovery time for a completely changed look is worth it.
Body Lift referral
Looking for a body lift specialist plastic surgeon and live in the Pittsburgh, PA area? We highly recommend Dr. Dennis Hurwitz. Dr. Hurwitz is a well respected, well trained plastic surgeon who also is known as an educator. His practice is known as the Hurwitz Center for Plastic Surgery. Visit his plastic surgery website, https://www.hurwitzcenter.com to learn more.
George Washington University Professional Center
The Loudoun Center for Plastic Surgery
45155 Research Place, Suite 125
Ashburn, VA 20165