What is a Belt Lipectomy?
A belt lipectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the excess folds of skin or fat deposition around the waist or belt line, hips, buttocks and thighs and reshape them. It is a combination of abdominoplasty with circumferential excision of fat. The belt lipectomy is also called by various terms such as tummy tuck, lower body lift, abdominal lipectomy and panniculectomy. This procedure was developed by Dr. Ted Lockwood who extended and re-defined the concept of high lateral tension tummy tuck. A belt lipectomy is generally done after a weight loss surgery and requires 5-8 hours operating time.
Why Does A Person Need Belt Lipectomy?
Human skin has a little tendency of elasticity, so it gets back to its previous position after stretching, but because of obesity, where people have a lot of weight and fat deposition in the body which leads to excessive stretching of the skin. Due to this, the skin loses its elasticity and doesn’t spring back to its previous position resulting in extra skin folds and loose and flabby skin. In females, pregnancy also does the same stretching of skin and is responsible for the loose and lax tissue which alters the contours of the woman’s body. Extra skin folds can be seen under the chin, in the thighs region, on the upper arms, abdomen or hips and cause various problems such as:
- Feeling of discomfort.
- Rashes and ulcers between the skin folds.
- Fungal infections.
- Difficulty with walking.
- Trouble in urinating.
- Problem in sexual activities.
- Hygiene problems.
- Self consciousness and low self-esteem.
All these excess skin folds cannot be shifted just by exercise and good nutrition, so the best way to remove these extra loose folds of skin tissue and to contour the body is belt lipectomy surgery.
Benefits of Belt Lipectomy Surgery
- Belt Lipectomy surgery is beneficial to remove the excess fat and weight of around 30 to 50 pounds, which person has difficultly in losing. Belt lipectomy helps to contour the body.
- Another benefit of Belt Lipectomy surgery is to remove the excess hanging skin and fat after significant weight loss in the area of stomach, buttocks, thighs, arms, hips and breasts.
- To prevent the irritation and the rashes on skin occurred due to rubbing of the skin folds together.
- Belt Lipectomy surgery also helps in increasing the mobility, which gets reduced by the large, fatty skin folds.
Procedure of Belt Lipectomy Surgery
Steps involved in performing belt lipectomy:
- A belt lipectomy is a procedure that requires four to six hours and a patient has to stay at least one night in the hospital. It is first performed on the back of the patient, then the front of the patient; after this right side and then the left side of the patient is done.
- First, general anaesthesia is given to the patient, so he/she can sleep during the belt lipectomy procedure and would not feel any pain during the surgery. In some of the cases, spinal anaesthesia is also given to patients along with medicines in which patient remains conscious and can listen to the voices with blurry vision, but can’t feel anything that happens during belt lipectomy surgery.
- After anaesthesia, vital signs of the body, such as heart rate, blood pressure etc. are closely observed for a successful and safe belt lipectomy surgery.
- The surgeon makes dotted lines on the body for incision cuts and then incisions are made first in the area of lower back and buttocks.
- These incisions are extended across the front lower belly or perimeter of the abdomen where the excess skin and fat of abdominal wall is elevated over the abdominal fascia and muscles.
- The excess fat and skin in the area of abdomen, sides and back are pulled down and the excess skin and fat in the area of outer thighs and buttocks are pulled up to remove them during belt lipectomy surgery.
- After this, the soft tissues and the edges of skin are sutured together for the smooth contour of the body. Sometimes dressing is also done to the wounds.
- During belt lipectomy surgery, all the incisions and cuts are made in such a manner that the final scars of sutures get to hide in the under garments.
Recovery After Belt Lipectomy Surgery
- After the completion of the Belt Lipectomy surgery, a person can have multiple drains, which can stay for up to 5 to 14 days and its removal depends on the amount of drainage recorded.
- Surgical glue (Dermabond) and/or tapes are used to cover the incisions and sutures are usually dissolvable, so they do not need to be removed.
- Following Belt Lipectomy surgery, Patient experiences pain and numbness in the trunk region, which is controlled by pain killers and medications. Antibiotics are given to the patients at the time of surgery and after the surgery to prevent any infection. Anti-inflammatory medications are also required to deal with the swelling and pain.
- A patient has to wear bandages and compression garment or special restrictive undergarments around the abdomen or waistline for up to 6 weeks following Belt Lipectomy surgery for additional support, to minimize the discomfort and restrict movements.
- About 10 to 15 days are required to perform the daily activities comfortably after belt lipectomy surgery and many other weeks to get back to the initial pre-operative energy level.
All the risks and potential problems after the belt lipectomy surgery can be minimized by carefully following all the directions and recommendations given by the surgeons. Usually, they advise having proper bed rest for around two weeks post belt lipectomy surgery, so the sutures can heal faster and the patient would be able to do regular activities easily. Strenuous exercises, heavy diet, smoking and heavy weight lifting should be avoided after the belt lipectomy surgery. Recommended exercises and diet should be followed after completing the healing process for long lasting result.
Contraindications for Belt Lipectomy Surgery
A belt lipectomy is a surgical process and the time required for surgery and healing process varies from patient to patient as every individual is unique and require operation according to their body needs. There are so many complications associated with the belt lipectomy surgery that the patient needs to be made aware of. People with heart disease, diabetes, bleeding disorders, high blood pressure and smokers are not good candidates for a belt lipectomy surgery. Smokers have to completely avoid smoking one month before the belt lipectomy surgery and during the completion of the healing process to avoid the detrimental effects of smoking on wound healing post belt lipectomy surgery.
Risks Associated With Belt Lipectomy Surgery
A belt lipectomy is a safe surgical procedure though associated with some complications and it can be riskier for an obese person than for those who are having belt lipectomy for some other reason. So choosing an experienced surgeon is a must for avoiding the following kind of risks of belt lipectomy:
- Infection after belt lipectomy surgery.
- Deep venous thrombosis.
- Problem with healing of the wounds.
- Heavy bleeding during and after the belt lipectomy surgery.
- The risk of nerve damage.
- The risk of pulmonary embolism due to the blood clot formed in the lower legs.
- Problems from anaesthesia.
Risk Factors Or Complications From Belt Lipectomy Surgery Depend On The Following Factors:
- Age of the patient.
- The health condition of the patient before and after the surgery.
- The amount of weight lost by the patient.
- The amount of tissue or excess skin removed during belt lipectomy surgery.
If the result of one belt lipectomy surgery does not fulfil the requirements of the patient or if any complication occurs in the belt lipectomy surgery, then the patient needs to undergo another belt lipectomy surgery to fix the previous one.