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Body Lift

To achieve a more natural body shape


Average Stay

1 week

Duration of Hospital Stay

1 day

Duration of Operation

1-2 hours

Type of Anesthesia

Local-General Anesthesia

Recovery Time

2 weeks

What is a body lift?

A body lift combines several surgeries in one procedure to remove extra skin and related fat deposits after significant weight loss, often from a bariatric surgery such as gastric bypass.
An upper body lift, lower body lift, or a combination of the two provides the most dramatic body contouring results of any skin tightening procedure while reducing the discomfort that can be caused by excess skin. Results are immediate and permanent, as long as you maintain a stable weight.

As more people have had weight loss surgery, the popularity of lower body lifts has risen by nearly 4,000% over the past 20 years.

The satisfaction rate for this procedure is also extremely high: body lift surgery has a 96% Worth It Rating.

What's included in a body lift?

A lower body lift usually includes a butt lift, outer thigh lift, tummy tuck, panniculectomy (to remove a lower stomach apron of loose skin), and/or monsplasty (surgery to tighten the mons pubis, the area of fatty tissue between the genitals and pubic bone).

Also known as a belt lipectomy, a lower body lift is performed via a circumferential incision that runs from the lower abdomen, around the hips, and across the lower back to the buttocks. For this reason, it's also often called a 360 circumferential lower body lift. 

A lower body lift doesn't usually include the inner thigh area. Removing excess skin there requires a medial thigh lift, which often is performed after patients have recovered from a lower body lift. Inner thigh corrections are built on the foundations established by abdominoplasty, lateral [outer] thigh lift, and buttock lift.

Upper body lifts vary by what you need, but they often include an arm lift and back lift, with a breast lift and/or breast augmentation for women (sometimes combined with liposuction as part of a mommy makeover). Individually, these procedures may also be combined with a lower body lift. 

A full body lift combines upper and lower body lift surgeries, usually performed several months apart, to give you time to heal in between.

Who's a good candidate for a body lift?

Healthy nonsmokers with excess skin and small pockets of excess fat after losing a significant amount of weight (due to weight loss surgery or a healthy diet and exercise) can be good candidates for body lift surgery.

Most plastic surgeons will recommend a BMI of 30 or below to minimize surgical and postoperative complications. For patients in this range, studies have also shown body lift surgery to be “safe and effective.”

You'll also need to be at a stable weight for at least six months prior to your surgery, so you can truly get a handle on how much residual excess skin you have that needs to be removed. 

Your doctor can help you create a plan to reach your ideal weight through diet and exercise and maintain it after surgery. 

If you have diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, or another serious medical condition, your primary care doctor may hesitate to sign off on a body lift. These conditions can affect your body’s ability to heal or increase your risk of complications.

What happens during a body lift?

After your initial consultation with your surgeon, the details of your surgery will be determined, including how many procedures you’ll need to achieve the results you want. 
In some cases, especially if you’re only focused on one area of the body, you’ll have the entire lift done in a single operation. In others, you may have a body lift done in several stages, giving you time to heal in between.

You should be able to have a smaller surgery done as an outpatient procedure, but more complex procedures could require a short hospital stay—possibly up to two days, for a lower body lift. 

The surgery itself could last about four or five hours and possibly longer, based on your individual needs. Doctors say they’d rather spread the process over several surgeries than go longer than six hours, though a 2008 study observed patients undergoing two-stage total body lifts at up to 7.4 hours for the first stage and 4.6 hours for the second, with no major difference in complication rates between multi and single-stage surgeries.

During any body lift, you’ll be given general anesthesia, so you’ll be fully asleep. Your surgeon will then remove the excess fat and skin, lifting and tightening the remaining skin to give your body a more sculpted shape. This is done through surgical excision (cutting off of excess underlying tissue), often combined with liposuction to achieve an improved contour.
Deep sutures are often used within the underlying tissues, tightening the fascia that covers the muscle to support your newly shaped contours.

Sutures are also used to close skin incisions. Unless dissolvable stitches are used, these are typically removed by your surgeon 1–2 weeks after surgery.

What is body lift recovery like?

You may be woozy when you leave the surgical center (especially if you’re on prescription pain medication), so plan to have someone you trust there to take you home. You’ll also need someone to help you out with bathing and other basic tasks for the first few days after your procedure.

Because body lifts combine multiple surgical procedures and are customized to each patient, your surgeon will give you the best estimate of how much downtime you’ll need but you’ll probably want to plan for about a month off work and expect to take it easy for another few months.

Your initial recovery could take a few hours or up to two days, depending on the extent of your procedure and how long you need to be monitored by medical staff.

When you're ready, your doctor will send you home with compression garments, to reduce swelling as you heal. You may also have surgical drains, to prevent fluids from building up.

Generally, six to eight weeks of protecting your incisions should cover most uncomplicated situations with a body lift. Your surgeon will give you instructions for keeping your incisions clean and preventing infection.  

You may be able to resume more strenuous activities by about three months post-op, though you’ll likely have swelling and raised scar tissue for six months or more. Your surgeon will check on your progress and help you determine when it's safe to be more active.

Once they've healed, the scars should not limit your activity. The skin reaches its maximum strength about six weeks after an incision is closed. After this point, it would be extremely unlikely to have any problems. In three months, you can do all you want.

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