About Body Contouring

Body Contouring Surgery Procedure

Body contouring surgery is used to enhance and improve the appearance of one’s body, by reshaping it to attain a more normal body appearance. Following major weight loss, either through dieting and exercise or bariatric surgery, the skin usually is lacking in elasticity and hence cannot conform to the reduced size of the body. This results in saggy, heavy, loose skin, which hangs in problematic folds. For instance the upper arms may appear loose and saggy, the abdomen may result in an apron like overhang, or lastly there may be hanging pockets of skin around the groin, buttocks and thighs. This may not only be upsetting for the individual, hence affecting their self esteem, however may contribute to the development of health problems. The problems which can be caused by heavy and excess skin include personal hygiene issues, skin thinning, skin tearing, back and shoulder aches and pains, poor posture, infections and chronic rashes within the skin folds, as well as difficulty in exercising and walking.

Body contouring surgery is aimed to improve various body areas, such as the upper torso and arms, the waist, abdomen, buttocks and thighs. It is important to note that such a surgery is not a weight loss alternative nor a method of fat reduction, however, should be considered as final phase of your weight loss experience.

In addition, liposuction alone should not be considered as the sole option for contouring the body, as liposuction does not achieve skin tightening, and the issue is excess skin not fat.

Body contouring surgery is commonly carried out in stages, and Dr Lim will develop a surgical plan that is inclusive of your current condition and desired goals.

After Weight Loss

Several surgical techniques can be performed to reshape the body by removing excessive amounts of skin and correcting the remaining skin that is left. These techniques include a body lift, which is also known as a ‘truncoplasty or Belt Lipectomy’ with or without liposuction, an upper arm lift or ‘Brachioplasty’, and a medial thigh lift.

Lower Body Lift (Truncoplasty; Belt Lipectomy)

A lower body lift procedure entails removing the “belt” of excess skin and fat on the lower abdomen, waist, hips, upper buttocks and outer upper thighs, which can be carried out in one operation or in several stages. The extent of fat and skin to be removed will vary from each patient and may be estimated prior to the surgery. The circumferential incision of a lower body lift is carefully placed so that can be hidden below the underwear line. Body contouring surgery is performed over several hours, however it is important to note that such a long period of time in surgery is not suitable for every patient. Dr Lim will advise you as to how much skin can be removed safely, keeping in mind your personal objectives.

The technique used to reduce the lower abdomen is similar to an ‘abdominoplasty’ or ‘tummy tuck’, where the existing navel is repositioned, the excess skin that exists on the lower abdomen is removed, and the skin of the upper abdomen is pulled down and joined to the lower fold on the abdomen. The excess skin on the back is usually removed as well, and the remaining skin is tightened. Extra skin and fat on the sides of the hips are also removed, in which the skin over the outer sides of the thighs is tightened, leaving a scar around the hip. In order to lift and tighten the buttocks and thighs, excess skin and fat is also removed, and the scar is placed on the upper part of the buttocks, which dips into the cleft, thus the circle of lifted skin is completed. In some cases in order to enhance the shape of the treated area, liposuction can also be used within the lower body lift procedure. A buttock flap may also be used to enhance the size and shape of the buttock as these have usually lost its volume and shape.

Patients who have a lower body lift require drains inserted during the surgery, to prevent the accumulation of fluids and blood within the surgical wounds. The drains usually remain in place for a few days and are removed once the amount of drainage output subsides.


Upper Arm Lift or Brachioplasty

In an upper arm lift the excess skin that hangs from the under-surface of the upper arm is removed. The amount of skin removed varies and is dependent on the patient. The incision from the underarm area extends along the inside of the upper arm, starting from the armpit to the elbow, so that the scar is hidden when the arms are positioned close to the body. It is important to note that healing around the arm area is quite unpredictable and may result in the scar being thickened or widened. However, the results of upper arm contouring are visible almost instantly, in which tighter and smoother contours are evident on the arms, and the quality of the skin is dramatically improved.


Medial Thigh Lift

A medial thigh lift reshapes the upper inner thighs by removing the excess skin and fat. This is achieved by creating an incision that begins at the fold where groin and thigh meet, and extends along the inner part of the thigh towards the knee, where it is under controlled tension that the excess skin is removed. As a result, the skin is tightened and the contour of the inner thigh is greatly improved.


The incision

Body contouring surgery will require incisions in order to eliminate excess skin, which can often be extensive. The incisions are often positioned in areas that can be hidden under clothing, however in some cases this is unattainable. The length and pattern of the incision is dependent on the amount of skin that is to be removed, the location of the excess skin, and lastly the surgeon’s technique and patient’s preference. All body contouring procedures will result in some form of a visible scar.

The Surgery

The surgery may take a few hours, and is performed under a general anaesthetic in an accredited hospital. You are required to stay in hospital for several days following surgery and will be able to go home once your wound drains have been removed and your pain has settled. You may be provided with a supportive garment in hospital that will help decrease the bruising and swelling, in which must be worn for a few weeks after the surgery. Dr Lim will review you post-operatively and will prescribe analgesia and antibiotics for you to continue on discharge. Dr Lim’s staff will keep in contact with you after the procedure and monitor your progress and attend to any queries you may have. Dr Lim will review you one week after surgery with further reviews scheduled at one and three months post surgery.

Our goal is to make your experience as easy and comfortable as possible. Dr Lim and the Nurse Consultant will take as much time with you as required to answer any questions you may have.