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What is a belt lipectomy?

Arthur W. Perry, MD
Plastic Surgery
Skin hangs off the neck, arms, chest, abdomen, buttocks, and thighs after massive weight loss. A procedure called a belt lipectomy removes excess skin of the abdomen and back by making scars completely around the waist. The buttocks and abdomen are lifted in a single operation. This operation may be combined with an inner thigh lift, in what I call a womp. Another procedure is called a body lift. It is more appropriate for people who have loose skin of the buttock and thigh areas. Plastic surgeons disagree on what to call these two procedures; some consider them to be synonymous.

Albert Cram, M.D., F.A.C.S., is professor emeritus of surgery and former chief of the plastic surgery section at the University of Iowa. With his partner, Al Aly, M.D., F.A.C.S., he has performed over a hundred belt lipectomies, probably more than anyone else in the country. "In a belt lipectomy, we make an incision completely around the body," Dr. Cram says. To do this, he and his partner take nearly four and a half hours to remove the excess skin and fat from the abdomen, back, and sides. "We move the patient three times in this procedure, operating first on the abdomen. Then we place the patient up on each side to remove skin from the sides and back before returning the patient to the supine (face up) position."

In a belt lipectomy, typically seven kilograms (fifteen to sixteen pounds) of skin and fat are removed. "People are always disappointed with this number. They have a lot of empty skin that doesn't weigh too much," says Dr. Cram. Body lifts may remove only two kilograms (four to five pounds). In a belt lipectomy, as much as forty centimeters of skin are removed in front and twenty-five centimeters in the back. A tummy tuck is a part of every belt lipectomy, and many patients have hernias that require repair at the same time. The incisions are high on the waist with a belt lipectomy. Drains are left in for more than a week, to decrease fluid collection under the redraped skin. These procedures are obviously performed under general anesthesia and require a hospital stay of several days or longer.
Straight Talk about Cosmetic Surgery (Yale University Press Health & Wellness)

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Straight Talk about Cosmetic Surgery (Yale University Press Health & Wellness)

The public’s recent exuberance toward cosmetic surgery has spurred an unprecedented demand for appearance-changing procedures. But how can an average consumer discern the hype from solid truth? ...
Stuart A. Linder, MD
Plastic Surgery

A belt lipectomy is a very invasive body sculpting surgery that removes tissue circumferentially around the lower abdomen and behind the back. It is essentially an extended tummy tuck that continues to the back. This surgery requires that the patient is placed both in the supine and prone position. The goals are to remove tissue such as in an abdominoplasty and buttock lift with posterior skin removal. Patients with massive weight loss after gastric bypass surgery are excellent candidates for belt lipectomy. Blood loss can be significant, and therefore performing in a hospital setting with blood products available may be a good idea.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.