Upper body lifts have been around for decades but were rarely used because they produce significant scars. However, some patients who have lost massive amounts of weight and are left with hanging folds of skin in the upper body area are willing to accept the scarring in exchange for greater comfort and easier clothes fit. Surgical procedures that fall into this category are upper abdominoplasty and torsoplasty. (Axilloplasty also may be part of an upper body lift and is discussed in the section on the upper arms and armpit area.)
A circumferential body lift removes some excess skin and tissue from the upper abdomen. However, this lower body lift cannot solve the problem completely in patients with severe skin laxity between the waist and breast area. An upper abdominoplasty removes loose folds of skin in this area. This procedure is usually done 3 to 6 months after a circumferential body lift.
A torsoplasty addresses excess skin and tissue that remains on the sides of the upper body and back. It may be combined with an axilloplasty or upper abdominoplasty because the areas being re-contoured are in close proximity. In a torsoplasty, the skin excess is removed through incisions that depend on each patient’s needs, though generally they are placed in the area beneath the arms, down the side of the chest, and may extend onto the back.
All upper body lifts may require liposuction if significant subcutaneous fat remains in the area. In some cases, the liposuction may be done at the time of the upper body lift, but it is usually scheduled as a staged procedure performed a few months before or after the lift. Recovery from these upper body procedures takes 2 to 3 weeks, during which time normal physical activity and upper body motion should be restricted. Many patients choose to have upper body lifts performed at the same time as breast re-contouring or facial procedures.