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Extreme weight loss and bariatric surgery are more popular today to help people lose significant amounts of weight, which is why body lift surgery is a popular plastic surgery procedure.

A body lift is intended to fix loose, sagging skin that can afflict a person who loses a lot of weight. Other patients may have a body lift who are postpartum or have loose skin from age or sun damage.

The most popular body lift raises, tightens, and firms skin on the buttocks, groin, thighs, abdomen, and waits. This procedure is referred to as a lower body lift or belt lipectomy.

If you have lost an extreme amount of weight and have hanging, loose skin folds, below is more information about body lift surgery.

Body Lift Overview

A body lift enhances the shape and tone of your body by eliminating extra skin and fat. Plastic surgeons can use body lifts to treat sagging skin, cellulite, and excessive fatty tissue.

Patients who have lost a significant amount of weight from having bariatric surgery or diet and exercise usually have a lot of extra fat and skin around the thighs, arms, legs, abdomen, buttocks, breasts, and other areas.

Your skin can sag and become less elastic from being stretched by excessive fat for too long. And it doesn’t shrink back to its smaller size and shape. Also, extra skin can hamper your mobility and lead to rashes, sores, and even severe infections.

Before having a body lift, your weight should be stable for at least 12 months. Women who may get pregnant should wait to have a body lift because carrying a child will affect the procedure’s results.

The best candidates for a body lift are:

  • Those with loose, soft tissue in several body areas
  • Healthy people who don’t have serious medical problems that can affect healing or lead to serious surgery risks
  • People who don’t smoke
  • Individuals with a positive attitude and outlook and have realistic goals for what the procedure can do
  • Those who are ready to live a healthy lifestyle and will exercise and eat a healthy diet

Body Lift Procedures

A body lift procedure requires long incisions, but their length and pattern depend on where and how much tissue is removed. Your surgeon can usually make incisions in strategic areas that are hidden by clothing or bathing suit.

General steps for a body lift are:


Your plastic surgeon will give you IV or general sedation, depending on their judgment.


The most common lower body lift features incisions that resemble a bikini pattern. This incision pattern effectively tightens the belly, groin, thighs, waist, and buttocks in a single procedure.

The incision around the lower body removes the apron of extra skin and fat. Then, the surgeon redrapes the remaining skin and tissue and tightens them with sutures.

Closing Incisions

Sutures in the deeper tissues can form and support your new shape and contours. Next, the surgeon will use sutures or skin glue to close the incisions in the top skin layer.

Complementary Procedures

The most popular option is the lower body lift described above. But this procedure may be performed with other procedures to provide even more impressive results.

Depending on your body and aesthetic goals, your surgeon may also recommend some of the following procedures to address loose, sagging skin:

These procedures are usually performed three to six months after the body lift. Some patients may have loose skin on the face and neck, so a facelift or neck lift may be done, too.

Body Lift Recovery

After your body lift, your surgeon will apply bandages and dressings to your incisions. They also may place drains under your skin to remove extra blood and fluid that may gather after the procedure.

Remember that a body lift is major surgery, and you’ll need a lot of recovery time. Your surgeon will manage your initial pain and discomfort with IV medications, followed by oral medications.

You also may need to follow a specific diet to encourage healing, and your surgeon will advise you on how to minimize the risks of complications. Also, the surgeon may give you a compression garment that you must always wear except when you bathe. Surgical dressings are usually removed after 48 hours.

Your activities after surgery will be limited until you have a few weeks to rest and recover. Some of the most common restrictions are not exercising or lifting anything more than a few pounds. However, you should go for a walk every day to improve circulation and healing.

Most patients need four to six weeks to recover before they go back to regular activities. However, it’s wise to wait six or eight weeks before engaging in vigorous exercise. It’s critical not to put strain or pressure on any treated body area.

You can expect most swelling to fade after six weeks, and all of it should be gone after three or four months.

Body Lift Risks

Most patients say having a body lift improves their appearance and quality of life. A 2013 clinical study found that plastic surgery to lift the lower body improved body image and quality of life.

However, this is a significant procedure, and about 78% of patients experience some type of complication, but most are minor.

Some of the risks of a body lift include:

  • Internal bleeding
  • Blood clots
  • Fatty tissue death beneath the skin
  • Loss of skin sensation
  • Swelling in the legs
  • Skin is still sagging and loose
  • Severe scarring
  • Edema in the incision area
  • Dissatisfaction with results

Your plastic surgeon will review the potential risks and side effects of the procedure, and you can decide if it’s right for you.

Request A Body Lift Consultation

Thinking about a body lift in Chicago? Dr. Otto Placik is proud to serve Chicago area patients at his practice. He’ll go over the options, goals, and more to determine if you’re an ideal candidate for a body lift.


Body Lift Overview. (n.d.). Accessed at https://my.clevelandclinic.org/cosmetic-plastic-surgery/procedures/body-lift

About Body Lift. (n.d.). Accessed at https://www.plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/body-lift/procedure

What You Need To Know About A Body Lift. (2020). Accessed at https://www.verywellhealth.com/body-lift-surgery-what-you-need-to-know-2709984

Lower Body Lift. (n.d.). Accessed at https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/plastic_reconstructive_surgery/services-appts/lower_body_lift.html

Author: Dr. Otto Placik

Dr. Otto Placik is a Double-Board Certified Plastic Surgeon in Chicago, a leader in the field of body sculpting, and is recognized for his artistry in a wide range of modern cosmetic enhancements.


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