BACK LIFT (THORACOPLASTY)
As the skin of the back ages, folds of skin tend to form that make the back appear significantly less youthful. The reason these folds form is that the skin of the back is tightly adherent to the chest wall in the mid-back, and is non-adherent above and below the zone of adherence. As skin laxity increases, folds of skin form above and below the point where the skin is densely adherent to the chest wall. In some patients the appearance of these folds of skin is aggravated by accumulation of excess subcutaneous fat.
Back lift, also known as posterior thoracoplasty, is a skin excision procedure that is designed to completely eliminate the folds of skin excess in the zone between the shoulder and hip posteriorly. The skin excision is designed so that it leaves a scar at the level of the bra strap, so that it is hidden by wearing a bra or a swimsuit top.
In most cases the back skin excess is completely eliminated and, when necessary, liposuction can also be performed to eliminate excess subcutaneous fat as well. The scar wraps around the back at the level of the inframammary folds and is designed so that the scar blends into the inframammary fold crease.
As this surgery involves skin excision alone or skin excision with liposuction, recovery is fairly easy and patients in most cases do not require narcotic pain medication postop. In some patients a closed-suction drain is left in place for up to one week postop. Patients can resume routine activities of daily living immediately, and gradually return to full-effort physical activity over four to six weeks postop.
Back lift (posterior thoracoplasty) can very dramatically reverse signs of skin and soft tissue aging in the posterior and lateral trunk. If the appearance of skin folds in your back is keeping you from feeling comfortable in a two-piece swimsuit or a form-fitting dress, this very straightforward and low-risk procedure could truly be life changing for you.
Make sure that you seek treatment from a board-certified plastic surgeon experienced in posterior trunk contouring surgery. Make sure that they can show you side-by-side “before and after” images of their back lift patients, and you may even want to speak to one or more posterior thoracoplasty patients from the practice in which you are considering undergoing surgery.
There is a trade-off with this surgery, as the surgical scar is not well-concealed in an unclothed patient in posterior view. However, when the surgery is carefully executed, the scar should be totally concealed by most bras and swimsuit tops, and with appropriate and diligent scar treatment most patients ultimately achieve scars that are narrow, faint and not problematic for them.
If you have a fairly mild degree of back area skin laxity, you probably want to put this procedure off until later in life. If you have obvious folds of back skin excess that keep you from wearing a two-piece swimsuit or form-fitting clothing, then you should seriously consider this surgical procedure.