Remove excess skin from weight loss

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Massive weight loss is an achievement to be celebrated, but once you have lost the weight, your skin rarely retracts and the excess skin is left behind. This may be affecting your arms, thighs, breasts, tummy, thighs, or all of them. It may also be affecting your confidence and your daily life. The results from a body lift can see you fitting into clothes better, find walking and exercising easier, or return to driving or activities that your excess skin may have been preventing.

A body lift is major surgery but the results will restore shape and definition and allow the patients to finally enjoy their new, lighter self.

Dr Alastair Taylor FRACS

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What is involved in body lift surgery?

Body lift, or body contouring, surgery is designed to improve the body’s appearance by modifying its size or shape, such as to contour the waist, abdomen, thighs, buttocks, upper torso and upper arms. It involves removal of fat and/or excess skin to improve skin tone and definition.

A consultation with Dr Taylor will discuss your concerns, determine the extent of the surgery required to achieve the results you want, and if surgeries can be combined or performed separately.

It is a long and complex operation to do an abdominoplasty together with a body lift so it is usually done in stages with the abdominoplasty done first. The posterior body lift, or thigh lift, is performed 6 to 12 months later, resulting in a more even and predictable result. The next area would be the breasts, chests and arms, this is often performed as a single surgery.

Staging the surgeries may limit the number of surgeries you need. As each area recovers, you may find the extent of the repair required is nowhere as significant as you originally thought.

To minimise risks, I prefer to perform weight loss surgery in stages. Whilst this will require multiple recoveries I have found the benefits far outweigh the inconvenience of a few extra weeks of work.

There are many options for removal of excess skin but the patient needs to have a voice about what bothers them the most.  I have performed over a 1000 weight loss surgery covering everything from abdominoplasty, body, thigh, breast and arm lifts. I also have developed a unique spiral wedge which I use to address the excess back skin.  Every patient’s surgical journey is different so a “one size fits all” doesn’t work. A comprehensive overview addressing individual needs is the way I tend to approach this.

The body lift operation can take between 5 and 10 hours depending on the repair and whether it is performed in one or two stages. The operation is performed under general anaesthetic and may require up to 3 days stay in hospital, depending on the extent of the surgery. You will require 3 weeks off work and up to 6 weeks before returning to normal activity. You will also wear a compression garment after your operation.

What is involved in thigh lift surgery?

The thigh lift addresses excess skin around the inner thighs. It is performed after an abdominoplasty or body lift as the thigh lift needs a stable pubic anchor to be successful. The thighs sag down and inwards with weight loss, the lift excises this excess skin and fat.

Dr Taylor will discuss a thigh lift when a patient presents with chafing and difficulty finding clothing to fit around the legs following weight loss.

The thigh lift is done mostly by liposuction and then skin excision leaving a scar running from the inner knee to the groin. It is important not to damage lymphatics and veins which could lead to permanent swelling of the calves and feet. Liposuction prevents this and also means the wound edges do not need to be undermined for skin closure improving the blood supply to the wound edges. No drain is used.

Surgery is performed under a general anaesthetic and requires a minimum overnight stay.

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What is involved in chest and arm lift surgery?

Excess skin on the arms can be excised as a primary procedure (known as brachioplasty). However, in most weight loss cases this is also the best time to address the breasts (even in men) and excess skin on the side of the chest that forms part of the back roll.

This is a comprehensive operation lifting or reducing the breast, tightening the lateral chest and removing the baggy skin from the upper arms. It is one of the longest body contouring procedures at nearly 7 hours but it does deal with the upper body in one operation and recovery.

Surgery is performed under a general anaesthetic and requires a minimum overnight stay.

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What is a spiral back wedge?

Some weight loss patients, particularly those with an apple shape whose weight was mostly carried in the abdomen, still have a thick waist following abdominoplasty and lateral chest wedges.

A spiral wedge creates a waist by removing an oblique flap of skin and fat from the shoulder blade down to the lateral pelvis. It is a scar that can be seen but it is far more effective in tightening the torso than a “bra line back lift” which removes skin horizontally from the back.

Surgery is performed under a general anaesthetic and requires a minimum overnight stay.

Essential Information

Before Surgery

Referral

Obtain a Referral from your GP

Call the Clinic

Book an Appointment with Dr Taylor

Consultation

Meet with Dr Taylor and Patient Co-ordinator

Booking Surgery

Arrange Surgery and Presurgery Appointments

Pre-surgery Appointment

Meet with Dr Taylor's Nurses regarding your hospital admission

Admission to Hospital

Surgery performed under General Anaesthetic 3+ night stay

After Surgery

Physiotherapy Program

Physio program to aid early recovery (Recommended)

Discharge from Hospital

Pressure Garment worn 24 hours a day

2 Week Suture Removal

Appointment with Sole'vita nurses Garment worn only during the day

4 Weeks

Return to work, Resume Driving, Walking, Light Exercise

6 Weeks

Appointment with Dr Taylor, Remove Pressure Garment, Resume Normal Activities

6 Months

Final Post-op Appointment with Dr Taylor

Massive weight loss should be celebrated but often it leaves excess skin and discomfort. Removing this excess skin will allow patients to finally enjoy and embrace their new, lighter self.

Dr Alastair Taylor

FAQ

Dr Taylor performs body lift surgery either at Sole’vita Surgery, Calvary John James Hospital in Deakin or National Capital Private Hospital. Dr Taylor will discuss this further, and any options available to you, during your consultation.

Your surgery may be booked at our private hospital, Sole’vita Surgery, a licensed medical hospital accredited under the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards. Sole’ vita Surgery is part of The CAPS Clinic, with all services conveniently based in the one location in Deakin, Canberra.

Our facilities include modern surgical theatres, sterilisation services and recovery areas. Our overnight rooms feature flexible privacy glass-panelling and personal ensuite.

All of the Sole’ vita team are fully qualified and registered medical personnel, with no more than 5 patients staying at once, our patient-to-nursing-care ratio is the best in Australia.

We allow up to a 3 day stay after your surgery, depending on the extent of your lift, so that you can take your time to rest and recover.

Dr Alastair Taylor (MBBS, FRACS) is a highly qualified, leading plastic surgeon with over 20 years experience in plastic, aesthetic and reconstructive surgery, including breast, body, and facial rejuvenation surgery. Dr Taylor qualified as a Specialist Plastic Surgeon in 1998. He holds a Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (FRACS). Learn more about Dr Taylor.

If your body lift surgery takes place at our Sole’vita Surgery private hospital, you can be assured that Dr Taylor leads a dedicated team of qualified health care professionals, including anaesthetic staff and nurses. His team have built a reputation for quality and are committed to achieving results for our clients whilst providing personalised care, with your safety, privacy and comfort at the forefront of all work.

Weight loss surgery is only claimable on both Medicare and your Private Hospital Insurance if you have lost five BMI points (not including partum weight) and remained stable at this weight for at least 6 months.

Fees include Dr Taylor Surgeons fee, Anaesthetist fee, Theatre and the Overnight Stay in Hospital costs, starting from $13,000. (Please note, patients with a BMI over 28 may incur additional fees).

To receive a formal quote you are required to have a consultation with Dr Taylor. The quote for the cost of your surgery is valid for 3 months. Some fees may not be included in this quote, including medications, pathology, physiotherapy and costs arising from any complications. Further information will be provided to you during your consultation.

Dr Taylor’s fee includes:

  • All pre and post operative care for up to 6 months
  • Access to our 24 hours support line
  • Pre-surgery appointment with Dr Taylor’s nurse
  • Pre-surgery kit (information, vitamins, herbal products, surgical bag)
  • Post Surgical Kit (information, products to aid recovery)
  • Scar Management Program
  • One Surgical Garment

ANY SURGICAL OR INVASIVE PROCEDURE CARRIES RISKS. BEFORE PROCEEDING, YOU SHOULD SEEK A SECOND OPINION FROM AN APPROPRIATELY QUALIFIED HEALTH PRACTITIONER (EG. YOUR GP).

Dr Taylor will discuss the general and specific risks during your consultation, where you can ask questions and discuss any concerns you may have. Is it important that you have enough information to weigh up the benefits, risks and limitations of your surgery. You will also be provided with more information to take home and read, and discuss with your family or loved ones.

Risks specifically associated with body lift surgery may include:

  • Difficulty in bending forward due to the tightened skin. Other movements may also feel constrained. As this surgery is difficult to recover from we also offer our patients access to professional physiotherapy sessions which will get you back upright and on your feet as quickly as possible.
  • Scars associated with body lift operations are always long, and may be unsightly and disappointing. Dr Taylor will try to position each scar in the least conspicuous position. Scar management is a part of our support we offer to our patients.
  • Disappointment in body shape. Due to a large amount of loose skin, some patients require one or more additional procedures to attain the desired body shape.
  • Seroma is a collection of serum, the thin straw coloured fluid that the body exudes when healing wounds. Preventing a seroma may involve drains and compression garments.

Some general risks and complications of surgery may include:

  • Risks associated with general anaesthesia, including nausea. Anti-nausea medication will be administered during the operation, and as required during your recovery. Your anaesthetist will discuss specific risks related to anaesthesia with you further.
  • Pain, bruising and swelling around the incisions and operated site(s). Pain relief will be administered and steps taken to reduce bruising and swelling, including how you can manage this yourself.
  • Heavy bleeding from an operated site. In the unlikely event that blood loss during surgery has been large, a transfusion may be needed. Steps are taken during your procedure to limit bleeding. You may also be asked to reduce or stop certain medications leading up to your surgery.
  • Infection that may require treatment with antibiotics or further surgery in some cases. Antibiotics are administered during the operation to prevent this as much as possible, and wound care instructions provided before your discharge.
  • Allergic reaction to sutures, dressings, antiseptic solutions, or medications. Please notify Dr Taylor and the nursing staff of any known allergies that you may have.
  • The formation of a large blood clot, or haematoma, an accumulation of blood around the surgical site that may require drainage. It is rare that a clot can move to the lungs and become life threatening.
  • Keloids and hypertrophic scars that are raised, red and thickened scars that may form over the healed incisions. These may be itchy, annoying and unsightly but are not a threat to health.
  • Slow healing (often related to smoking or diabetes), separation of wound edges or areas of skin that do not heal and may require a skin graft.
  • Numbness around operated sites. While numbness typically subsides slowly over several months, some numbness may be permanent.

To help you prepare for your surgery and enhance your recovery, we offer you a pre-surgery program to start 4 to 6 weeks prior to your surgery. This includes taking a supplement to aid recovery and get you back on your feet faster.  We also recommend an effective herbal medication to reduce the bruising and swelling associated with your surgery. You will also need to stop certain medications leading up to your surgery and we recommend ceasing smoking six weeks prior.

Planning for your surgery and your recovery in advance is vital. Understanding what you can and cannot do will ensure you are not put in a position where you put yourself or the success of your surgery at risk.  All this will depend on your personal situation.  Dr Taylor insists you refrain from any major or minor physical duties and take three weeks off work. You will be provided with a discreet medical certificate to accommodate any time required off work.

On discharge from Sole’vita Surgery we recommend:

  • You have someone drive you home.
  • You have someone with you for the first day at home.
  • Do not drive a car for at least five days postoperatively (usually longer, you will be advised by our nurses).
  • Ensure you can rest for three weeks, getting as much sleep as possible.
  • Do not undertake activities including physical exercise, contact sport or sexual activities for six weeks post surgery.
  • Do not leave Canberra prior to staples or sutures being removed.
  • Do not fly internationally during the six week postoperative period.

 

After your operation, you will have a catheter, patient controlled analgesia (PCA) machine, and drains. The catheter and PCA are removed on day two, and the drains are removed on the day of discharge.

On return from theatre, you will be placed in a very tight fitting compression garment. This garment is worn 24 hours a day (excluding showering) for the first two weeks and then during the day for another 4 weeks.

Extensive surgery bruising and swelling are to be expected. The liposuction component of the surgery will cause the most discomfort and often patients describe the straightening up process like a ‘Chinese burn’. It is for this reason we recommend a prolonged hospital stay. After your PCA is removed, taking regular oral pain medication can assist you to be more comfortable.

Dr Taylor will make hospital visits every day to manage your recovery. You may require up to 3 days stay in hospital. Discharge planning will include wound care and management of your dressings, prescriptions for medications, and follow up appointments.

You are encouraged to take a minimum of 3 weeks off work and plan not to be back to normal routine and activity for at least 6 weeks.

Two weeks after your surgery, you will come to Sole’vita Surgery to have your sutures removed and your wounds checked by one of our nurses. You will have follow up appointments with Dr Taylor at both the 6 week and 6 month stage of your journey.

Book Your Personal Consultation with Dr Taylor

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