This website is intended to provide you with general information only. This information is not a substitute for advice from your Specialist Plastic Surgeon and does not contain all the known facts about this procedure or every possible side effect of surgery. It is important that you speak to your surgeon before deciding to undergo surgery. If you are not sure about the benefits, risks and limitations of treatment, or anything else relating to your procedure, ask your surgeon to explain. Patient information provided as part of this website is evidence-based, and sourced from a range of reputable information providers including the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Better Health Channel and Mi-tec medical publishing.
Body contouring surgery is a range of aesthetic (cosmetic) procedures designed to improve the body’s appearance by modifying its size or shape. Body contouring surgery is most commonly performed to contour the waist, abdomen, thighs, buttocks, upper torso and upper arms. Surgical methods range from removal of fat and/or excess skin to surgical implants and lifts to improve skin tone and definition.
The aim of body contouring surgery is to remove and tighten excess skin, usually after massive or significant weight loss. It is also used to tighten saggy skin due to childbirth or ageing.
As well as being uncomfortable and heavy, excess skin can cause:
Body contouring surgery may be effective in assisting with a normal clothing size, easier walking and physical activities, improved hygiene and comfort.
Body contouring surgery incorporates a range of aesthetic (cosmetic) procedures including:
Each procedure is a highly individualised and may not be suitable for everyone. Always talk to your Specialist Plastic Surgeon before making a decision. Your Specialist Plastic Surgeon will assess your condition and general health, and plan the treatment that is best suited to you.
General anaesthesia is required for body lift surgery. For some patients who require shorter procedures, a combination of local (or regional) anaesthesia and sedation may be possible. Modern anaesthesia is safe and effective, but does have some risks. Ask your Specialist Plastic Surgeon and anaesthetist for more information.
Your surgeon and/or anaesthetist will ask you about all the medications you are taking or have taken, and any allergies you may have. Make sure you have an up to date list before the surgery.
Modern surgery is generally safe but does have the potential for risks and complications to occur.
Some potential complications risks associated with body contouring surgery include:
Refer to individual body contouring procedures for more information on specific risks.
Depending on your particular procedure and your general health, body contouring surgery may be performed either as a day procedure or involve a short hospital stay. Refer to individual body contouring procedures for more information.
Before undergoing surgery, it is important that you:
You will also be asked to provide a complete medical history for your Specialist Plastic Surgeon including any health problems you have had, any medication you are taking or have taken, and any allergies you may have.
You may be advised to stop taking certain medicines such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), aspirin, and medicines that contain aspirin. You may also be asked to stop taking naturopathic substances such as garlic, ginkgo, ginseng and St John’s Wort as they may affect clotting and anaesthesia. Always tell your surgeon EVERYTHING you are taking.
You may be given medicines to take before the surgery, such as antibiotics.
Your surgeon will also advise you if any other tests are required, such as blood tests, X-ray examinations or an Electrocardiograph (ECG) to assess your heart.
Prepare a “recovery area” in your home. This may include pillows, ice packs, a thermometer and a telephone within easy reach. Make sure you arrange for a relative or friend to drive you to and from the hospital or clinic. Someone should also stay with you for at least 24 hours after you return home.
Your surgeon should give detailed preoperative instructions. Follow them carefully.
While you are healing, you may experience some pain, bruising, swelling and numbness around the operated site. This is normal. Your Specialist Plastic Surgeon will prescribe pain relief as needed. If you have any problems or concerns, be sure to tell your surgeon.
Patients are encouraged to get up and walk during the day after surgery. You may be required to wear a compression garment to support the operated site(s). You may also need to wear calf or leg stockings, and have heparin injections. Make sure you wear loose, comfortable clothing that is easy to remove.
Avoid heavy lifting, strenuous exercise, swimming and strenuous sports until advised by your surgeon.
If you experience shortness of breath, chest pains, or unusual heart beats, seek medical attention immediately. Should any of these complications occur, you may require hospitalization and additional treatment.
Your surgeon will give you specific instructions on post-operative care. These instructions may include:
Be sure to ask your surgeon specific questions about what you can expect during your individual recovery period, such as:
Scars are the inevitable result of any invasive surgery. Your Specialist Plastic Surgeon will endeavour to minimise scarring and to keep your scars as inconspicuous as possible. By locating incisions in easily hidden sites, scars will be along natural skin lines and creases, and will usually fade with time.
Depending on the extent of the procedure, additional treatment may be required to help you achieve the optimal result. Further revisional surgery may also be necessary to correct minor irregularities.
Cost is always a consideration in elective surgery. Prices for individual procedures can vary widely between Specialist Plastic Surgeons. Some factors that may influence the cost include the surgeon’s experience, the type of procedure used and the geographic location of the office.
Costs associated with the procedure may include:
Your surgeon should welcome any questions you may have regarding fees.
Visit the Plastic Surgery Glossary for more medical terms.