What is Body Contouring?

Also known as a body lift, body contouring surgery includes various procedures to assist in removing and tightening excess skin in the waist, abdomen, thighs, buttocks, upper torso and upper arms.

Who does this procedure suit?

Those who have excessively loose skin in these areas from major weight loss and no amount of diet and exercise has helped change their shape. This loose skin can affect self-esteem, feel very uncomfortable and heavy, prevent the wearing of certain clothing and may cause difficulty walking/exercising, poor posture, aching back or shoulders, chronic rashes or infections in the skin folds, and personal hygiene issues. Body contouring is most often for those who have had major weight loss of 30kgs or more and have maintained a stable weight for several months.

What results will I expect?

Removal and tightening of excessively loose skin helps to improve walking and physical activities, achieve a more suitable clothing size, assists in giving you more confidence in your appearance, and improves hygiene and overall comfort. It’s important to remain realistic of what can be achieved for you. Body contouring cannot produce a young, blemish-free body as it involves permanent scarring which cannot always be hidden underneath clothing.

What’s the first step to take?

During your first consultation your surgeon will discuss what you’d like to achieve, any expectations you have, questions about the procedure, medical history and current medication. Your surgeon will examine your body and make sure you are suited to the procedure, including your general health, commitment to a healthy diet and exercise. We will provide as much information as possible so that you feel comfortable and informed, and if you feel overwhelmed in any way we encourage you to make a second consultation so that you feel confident with your decision.

How do I prepare for surgery?

Please ensure you have arranged someone to drive you home after your surgery and to help you out at home for a few days. The surgeon will let you know if any tests or procedures such as X-rays are needed prior to surgery. To reduce risk of bleeding and bruising please make sure to:

  • Avoid aspirin (or similar), non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (Voltaren and Nurofen) and Vitamin E two weeks before surgery. Panadol, and vitamins B and C are safe to use.
  • Inform your surgeon if you take any herbal medicines such as garlic, ginkgo, ginseng or St John’s Wort. These can affect clotting and the anesthetic.
  • Avoid smoking 6 weeks before and after surgery so as not to restrict circulation to the skin and delay healing. Giving up altogether is best.
  • Inform us immediately if you’ve had any infection (cold or flu) the week before your surgery.

What happens on the day of my surgery?

  • We will guide you to prepare for surgery so that your procedure and recovery go smoothly. On the day bring your toiletries, any medication needed and loose clothing or a night gown.
  • If your procedure is in the morning, do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before.
  • If your procedure is in the afternoon, do not eat or drink anything after 8.00am.

What should I expect during surgery?

Body contouring surgery is performed under general anesthetic so that you will be completely unaware of the surgery or any pain, and sleep comfortably through the procedure.

Types of procedures:

Body lift – removal of large skin folds and fat from the hips, outer upper thighs, lower abdomen, and upper buttocks. The lower part of the abdomen is reduced similarly to techniques used in ‘abdominoplasty’. This leaves a scar just underneath the bikini line. Excess skin from the back is also removed and tightened, with a scar extending from the abdomen to the back area. At the hips, excess skin and fat is removed, and tightened over the outer thighs. This scar runs around the outer hip. The buttocks and thighs can also have a large amount of skin and fat tissue to be removed and tightened, resulting in a scar above the buttocks.

Upper arm lift – excess skin is removed from underneath the upper arm, which varies in each person. The scar often runs from the armpit to the inner elbow.

Medial thigh lift – excess skin and fat is removed from the inner thigh and skin is tightened, leaving a scar where the groin and thigh meet. This procedure may change the contour and appearance of the genital area, especially in women.

What should I expect after surgery?

  • Your procedure is performed at one of our private hospitals and you will stay here for a few days during recovery.
  • Moderate level of pain is normal and more noticeable when standing or walking. Painkillers provided will assist in bringing relief.
  • You may have drains placed under the skin to help remove any build up of fluid. These are either removed before you leave the hospital or at a later date.
  • You are advised to get up and walk the day after surgery however sport and heavy lifting should be avoided for 4-6 weeks.
  • It is normal for your body to feel tight from the swelling. In bed, keeping the knees bent with pillows underneath will help reduce tension and feel more comfortable.
  • Compression garments may be needed to help reduce swelling. Any non-dissolvable stitches will be removed after a week. Dissolvable stitches will disappear on their own.
  • Your scars will initially be firm and pink for at least 6 weeks. Scar fading can take up to 12-18 months however they will not fade entirely. Using surgical tape over the incision for 4-6 weeks, and topical vitamin E and/or silicon afterwards may assist in healing.
  • 3 weeks off work is needed to recover and it is advised not to drive for 2 weeks.

What are the risks and complications with this procedure?

All surgeries come with risks that are important to understand so you make a well-informed decision.

  • Excessive internal bleeding – can occur and may require removing some stitches to wash out the accumulated blood beneath the skin, or a blood transfusion if there has been major blood loss.
  • Allergic reaction – to sutures, dressings or antiseptic solutions.
  • Seroma formation – a build up of excess body fluid is uncommon and will often disappear over a few weeks. In rare cases, larger seromas may require removal via needle aspiration or a small surgical procedure.
  • Infection – careful technique and antibiotic use help to minimize risk.
  • Haematoma – blood clots can occur near the incision and require additional surgery. Blood clots leading to heart attack, pulmonary embolism or stroke can be life threatening and is a risk with all surgeries.
  • Short-term nausea – due to anesthetic.
  • Keloid or unsightly thick scars – occur in some people who have the tendency to form poor scars. Poor long-term healing may require a skin graft.
  • Body shape may be disappointing to the patient even if the surgery is successful. Some patients require additional procedures to get their desired shape.
  • Nerve damage – can result in numbness from the navel to the groin, which can be permanent. Numbness around operated places is normal and usually resolves over time.

Please call our office if you experience any of the following: worsening pain, swelling or redness, bleeding, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, diarrhea, pus or fluid at incision site, calf pain or fever during the first 24 hours.