Body Lift Surgery – Realistic Expectations and Risk-Benefit Analysis

This writing will focus on realistic expectations in cosmetic surgery in regards to body lift surgery and body contouring surgery. It will also discuss risk-benefit analysis about these operations. The goal of the writing is to provide a higher level of understanding about the surgery.

For those interested in facial rejuvenation, similar concepts are reviewed but about operations in cosmetic surgery designed to make us look younger. For those interested in these procedures, please see my educational writing “Facial Rejuvenation Concepts : Facelift Delaware – Eye lift Delaware.”

We will now turn our attention to realistic expectations about body lift surgery and body contouring surgery.

Please see the photo below of a women doing “The Pull.”

expectations for cosmetic surgery | Dr. Chris Saunders MD

I call it “The Pull”. It is a setup for problems; a sign that the patient has unrealistic expectations. “The Pull” is the sign of a patient wanting something that is not possible. This is when a cosmetic surgeon’s job now becomes “more” important. He has the added responsibility of explaining realistic recovery and realistic results to a person who might not truly understand what cosmetic surgery can and can not do. The surgeon must explain what can realistically be achieved with surgery and what cannot be achieved. Some patients want results from surgery that are not possible. It is critical to understand what “can” be achieved through cosmetic surgery and what “cannot.”

“The Pull”

What is “The Pull”? This is when people grab their thighs or lower sides and “pull up.” This creates fantastic improvement in the legs and thighs all the way to the knees. It is when people pull or grab themselves in the back of the thighs to tighten the skin or the inner aspects of the thighs. Let me be very clear. No surgery accomplishes this type of result! There is not a surgeon nor an operation that gives the results desired by a person doing “The Pull.” Thigh and buttock lifts do “not” accomplish this type of result. Nothing can give a person this type of pull.

Why not? These types of lifting forces can not be generated surgically. It is unrealistic! No operation can achieve this type of lift. No operation can achieve this type of result. The operations work extremely well! But not to this degree. Many of these patients also want no scars. We are now heading even further away from the truth or further away from the “Real-Reality.” Scars are a necessary part of cosmetic operations. Some operations can not achieve the results some people want.

Body lift and body contouring operations like buttock lift and thigh lift operations work extremely well to help reshape and enhance a person’s body and legs. But realistic expectations are important. One can not expect every little piece of skin to be removed or to have perfectly smooth skin. The surgeon tries to remove every piece of extra skin, but healing will lead to some return of looseness. Patients must understand that the operations work extremely well but only to a degree. This is called having realistic expectations. Reviewing before and after photos helps as does a thorough consultation with your cosmetic surgeon.

Risk-Benefit Analysis:

The risk-benefit analysis can be used to understand whether cosmetic surgery should be done or not. For example, if an operation has low risks and high benefits, then the decision to proceed with the surgery is more obvious. Conversely, if an operation has higher risks, and minimal benefits, then a patient probably should not have the cosmetic operation. When deciding on an operation, the risks of the procedure, such as infection, bleeding or other medical complications, must always be considered. If a patient is completely healthy, we might assume that she is going to heal from the operation uneventfully, without medical complications. However, she will still end up with incisions or scars from the procedure. These incisions or scars are part of the risks of the surgery and part of the risk-benefit analysis.

Understanding what the scars will look like after cosmetic surgery is critical to understanding the risks of cosmetic surgery. The “Real-Reality” of certain cosmetic procedures is understanding the “Real-Reality” of the scars. If the scars are minimal, the risk-benefit ratio might favor proceeding with the cosmetic surgery. This is typically true with operations such as breast enlargement or liposuction. This is because the scars are so small and almost always are difficult to see. If the scars don’t always heal well or might spread, then the risk-benefit ratio might favor not proceeding with surgery.

With a thigh lift, the scars, as described above, can sometimes heal long, widespread, and less then perfect. The benefit from the thigh lift can vary. If a patient has minimal looseness of thigh skin, then the benefit from the procedure would be minimal. The risk-benefit analysis considers incisions and scars. The risk-benefit analysis in this condition may lead the patient and doctor to decide not to do the surgery. In cases of major weight loss and significant loose skin in the thigh area, the benefit is very dramatic and this benefit outweighs the risk of the incisions. The risk-benefit analysis in this case favors proceeding with surgery.

Buttock lift, thigh lift, or flank lift are operations designed to improve these respective areas. The incisions used for these operations are typically long. They are typically long because there is a lot of extra skin, and this is the only way to remove all the extra skin. These incisions are one of the major concerns for patients to discuss and understand. Body lift and body contouring incisions are not going to be small. They tend to be long because of the amount of skin that needs to be removed. Although the scars usually heal well and most people are very happy, it is important to remember that a risk of the procedure is that the scars can spread and be wider than desired.

Body lift operations can give excellent results when there is significant looseness or hanging of skin. The “Real-Reality” of the incision or scar is that it can sometimes spread. The concept of the risk-benefit analysis helps a patient determine if they will benefit from the operation. Moderate to severe hanging of the areas will be significantly or dramatically improved, and in these cases the incisions are probably well worth the benefit of the operation. In cases where the hanging of the buttock or thigh is not great or is minimal, then the scar might not be worth the benefit of the surgery. In other words, if you just have a little loose skin, you probably should not do the operation. If you have more or “a lot” of loose skin, most people find the results of surgery are well worth the risks. Satisfaction in these cases is often very high and with wonderful results.