Belt lipectomy offers better results for extreme sagging skin

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E. Ronald Finger

A belt lipectomy is also called "circumferential lipectomy," and even an "around the world lipectomy" - a somewhat insulting description, in my opinion.

Most everyone has heard about an abdominoplasty (commonly called a "tummy tuck"). This is basically the removal of excess loose skin and fat from the abdomen.

According to how much loose skin and excess fat is present, the procedure usually requires liposuction to be performed at the same time.

The abdominoplasty with liposuction usually involves suturing the rectus muscles (the six-pack muscles) together to create an internal corset. These techniques naturally tighten the waist as well as flatten the abdomen.

With the inclusion of the liposuction, the side and back rolls, such as the "love handles," are reduced.

However, aging, weight gain, weight loss (sometimes massive) and having babies can often result in a body shape that many women don't appreciate. Many people want to change back to their younger, more trim days. Men with weight loss are candidates as well.

If patients have significant loose skin, with or without excess fat, in their sides and backs to the extent that an abdominoplasty procedure is helpful but not sufficient, a belt lipectomy might be required for maximal results.

Most often these are patients who have lost a significant amount of weight, leaving stretched skin not only in their abdomen, but in their backs, buttocks and even thighs.

A belt lipectomy is an abdominoplasty that extends circumferentially around the body, like a belt. Sometimes massive amounts of skin and fat are removed, leaving a scar typical of a tummy tuck but extending around the body above the buttocks.

This procedure also lifts the buttocks to a much more youthful full shape and elevates the outer part of the thighs as well.

The various back rolls, i.e., love handles, muffin tops, etc., are usually included in the procedure, and they are diminished or even eliminated. Liposuction might also be needed during the procedure, according to the patient's needs.

The recovery time is much like a tummy tuck with liposuction. Generally, patients can move around over the next few days, but must take care not to over-extend themselves with housework or excess lifting for a few weeks. They must refrain from exercising for four to six weeks.

An abdominal binder might be used post-operatively as required by some plastic surgeons. My preference is to use no binder for the first four days, and then the patient can wear a snug garment, such as Spanx or anything elastic to apply gentle compression.

Compression hose must be used for a minimum of a week.

The procedure and recovery are very much individualized because of the variety of body shapes, weight loss, loose skin and age.

The results from a belt lipectomy are usually dramatic, transforming the patient's shape to that of a much younger and trim person.

E. Ronald Finger, MD, FACS is a board certified plastic surgeon with offices in Savannah and Bluffton. fingerandassociates.com

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