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The surgery of the lower body lift is a constellation of several procedures rolled into a single anesthesia event. It amalgamates an abdominoplasty with a lateral thigh lift, a lower flank-plasty, and buttock augmentation with the patient's tissue derived from the flanks to give a shapelier appearance that is not flat and amorphous.
Many people who have experienced the loss of over one hundred pounds have many areas troubling to the patient beyond the mid and lower torso. These individuals have redundant hanging skin of the arms and medial thighs, significant aesthetic deformities of the breast, and often premature aging of the neck and face. These above mentioned areas are addressed with additional procedures performed separately such as a breast lift with or without a brachioplasty (arm lift), medial thigh lifts, and face-neck lifts. Patients also typically inquire about the order of the procedures and I often state I prefer to perform the lower body lift first to establish the "Keystone" area of the torso and then I can better make aesthetic judgements about the breasts and thighs with respect to the shapelier proportion of the new torso.
Although the lower body lift with all its components takes about 7.5 hours of anesthesia time, The Lucas Center of Plastic Surgery's protocol is for an outpatient surgery status. People seem amazed at this concept. My explanation is a hospital is for sick patients who require monitoring of unstable vital signs, severe pain requiring IV pain management, the inability to take oral consumption of fluids and nutrients, or the requirement of IV antibiotics. After this very significant surgery we have done very thorough evaluation of what is required to make a patient comfortable, safe and recover in an expedited manner. First of all the surgery utilizes a technique supplemented with tumescent anesthesia which provides local anesthesia with a blood vessel constrictor (epinephrine) which results in a very limited amount of blood loss eliminating any risk of unstable vital signs postoperatively. We also ensure adequate pain management with the combination of a long acting local anesthesia pump to control pain along with narcotic analgesia. There are no limitations on what you can or can't eat afterwards. At home pain medications can be dispensed as needed, as compared to a busy hospital when your pain control may be limited by the availability of the nursing staff. Home limits the risk of hospital acquired infections which can occur on the nursing floors. Lastly one of the biggest safety measures is the prevention of deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary emboli. Early ambulation even the night of surgery is one of the most important factors along with chemo-prophylaxsis with Lovenox which can be easily administered at home. In the hospital ambulation is once again limited by the nursing staff availability and can result in almost no mobilization the night of surgery or beyond. In conclusion home is the best place to be after this operation.
A patient will wake up in a compression garment that helps to limit swelling and support the abdomen. Four drains will be placed during surgery to reduce fluid collections on the abdomen, flanks and lateral thighs. This will require some care to encourage fluid drainage and the patient or the care giver must measure the output to determine when the drains can be removed. All incisions are closed deeply with resorb able sutures with a layer of a glue – like substance over top so no incisional care is required for two weeks. The patient may shower the first post-operative day. The most comfortable position to rest is in a reclined position to reduce the tension on the abdominal closure.
This is a very significant operation which can result in a whole new lease on life by liberating the patient of the imprisonment of the excess hanging skin of the torso. However this comes at a cost of being quite sore and requires subsistence living for about two weeks. After this time many of the inflammatory chemical released by the body as a result of surgical trauma have cleared and most people begin to feel significantly better and are able to resume a more normal life. To feel completely normal it takes around six weeks which is also the time frame to return to regular exercise.
Lifestyle loans are now becoming more popular and several institutions such as Credit Unions and banks in Knoxville, Tennessee offer loans for cosmetic surgery procedures up to $10,000 with rates as low as 9.20% APR for up to forty eight months. This is substantially more attractive than other popular finance plans to help finance larger procedures such as body contouring after bariatric surgery. Please contact your local bank or credit union for more details.
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The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.