While losing weight is a positive event and dramatic weight loss results in numerous benefits to a person's health, after weight reduction surgery, or any substantial amount of weight loss, many parts of the body may have unsightly sagging skin. After extensive weight loss, the skin and tissues of the back often lack the elasticity to conform to the reduced body size, and therefore the skin may sag or appear as "rolls". A surgical procedure known as a back lift, or upper body lift, can address the issue of excess skin and fat on the back. A back lift is a surgical procedure that focuses on re-contouring and tightening up the back by removing excess skin and fat. This procedure also helps to address the bulging areas above and below the bra line that can be troublesome for some women.
The Back Lift Procedure
A back lift is performed while the patient is under general anesthesia. Patients are positioned on their stomach for the procedure. A back lift procedure concentrates on the mid to upper back area and sides of the upper abdomen beneath the arms. This is a particularly difficult spot for women as these rolls of skin tend to surface above and below the bra line. The original description of the procedure has been coined “bra-line back lift” as the goal is to conceal the incision as best as possible underneath the undergarments such as a bra which may be worn by women. An incision is made across the back and excess tissue is removed. Liposuction may also be used to remove any excess fat from the area. The remaining skin is then sutured closed in multiple layers, resulting in a smooth and toned appearance. Bandages are applied to the incisions following the procedure and small, thin tubes or drains are usually placed prior to closure under the skin to drain any excess blood or fluid that may collect. Most back lifts are outpatient procedures.
Risks Of A Back Lift
While a back lift is considered a safe procedure, there are risks which may include:
- Reaction to anesthesia
- Separation of incisions
- Accumulation of fluid underneath the tissues (seroma)
- Blood clots
- Poor scarring or widening of scars
Some patients may experience numbness in the upper and lower back after a back lift. In most cases, this numbness disappears over time and sensations gradually return to normal.
Recovery From A Back Lift
There may be some swelling and discomfort after a back lift, but most discomfort can be managed with medication. Patients usually take 1-2 weeks off from work. Drains will be managed at home and are usually removed within the first 2 weeks. After back lift surgery patients are advised to avoid exercise and lifting any heavy objects as this type of activity will place stress on your incisions and can cause the stitches to tear. This and other strenuous activities should be avoided for the first 4-6 weeks. As with any surgery, some scarring will be present and the incision may form a thin scar. The visibility of scarring will vary by patient, and most women can easily conceal any scars under a bra or bathing suit strap. Dr. Jarrell will guide you through the post-operative period and provide instructions on steps you can take to optimize scarring. Patients are usually able to return to regular activities within 4-6 weeks after the procedure.
Back lift surgeries are an effective form of cosmetic treatment for both men and women, especially after a significant weight loss, and are often combined with other body contouring procedures to help patients achieve their aesthetic goals all at once. The best way to make sure your results from the procedure are long lasting is to live a healthy lifestyle and maintain your weight.