Body lift

About the procedure

A body lift is a plastic surgery procedure that is used to remove excess skin from the torso and trunk. When people gain significant amounts of weight, the skin responds by stretching and increasing in size. In addition, the body actually manufactures new skin as well! Unfortunately, after losing this weight (including after bariatric surgery or weight loss surgery), the extra skin remains and sags and droops. This extra skin can lead to rashes, can cause clothes to not fit properly, and is generally not aesthetically pleasing to look at.

In order to remove this excess skin, it is necessary to cut it off surgically. When the excess skin is located on the trunk or torso, this procedure is called a body lift. In general, there are two types of body lifts: upper body lifts and lower body lifts. Upper body lifts are utilized in patients who have significant upper abdominal and upper back skin excess. Typically, this skin excess hangs down under the arms, back, and breasts/chest. In an upper body lift, Dr. Hirsch will make an incision across the upper abdomen and across the back, extending to almost the midline. He will then lift up the skin and pull it tight, and then removed the extra skin. In women, Dr. Hirsch will place this incision in the bra line in order to minimize its visibility.

In a lower body lift, the excess skin is located over the lower abdomen, flanks, and back. In order to remove this skin, Dr. Hirsch will make an incision is over the lower abdomen similar to an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck). He will then extend the incision so that it goes around the back, almost to the midline. Dr. Hirsch will then lift up the skin, pull it tight, and remove the extra skin. This procedure is called a belt lipectomy. Occasionally after weight loss, the buttocks appear deflated and flat as well. Instead of removing the extra skin, Dr. Hirsch can use the extra skin to reshape the buttocks. This procedure is called a lower body lift. Both the belt lipectomy and lower body lifts are plastic surgery procedures that are used to improve the appearance of the lower body and trunk. In both upper and lower body lifts, liposuction is used in combination with surgery to maximize the aesthetic benefit of the procedure.

Body lift surgery is performed under general anesthesia. After surgery, patients may experience mild to moderate discomfort depending on the type and extent of surgery. Some patients may prefer to go home after surgery while others may prefer to remain in the hospital or in a recovery facility for a night. In most cases, drains will be used following body lift surgery and a compressive garment is used after body lift surgery as well. It may take 1-2 weeks to resume normal activities following body lift surgery.

Frequently asked questions about body lift:

What do the upper and lower body lift scars look like, and where are they located?


The lower body lift scar runs along the lowest part of the abdominal wall, above the pubis, from hip to hip. It extends around the back, below the bathing suit line, and connects to the other side in the midpoint of the back. Depending on patient preference, the scar location can be modified and can be located slightly higher or lower as desired.
The upper body lift scar runs below the breasts, across the midline of the abdomen, and around the back to the midline. The scar location can be modified and may end up being slightly higher or lower than anticipated, but in general every effort is made to place it in the bra or bathing suit line of women so that it is less visible.

Will I need to take blood thinner shots to prevent blood clots after an upper or lower body lift?


In some cases, you will need to take blood thinner shots after a body lift procedure to reduce the chances of you getting a blood clot in your legs- a potentially fatal condition. Every patient is different, and certain risk factors such as weight, activity level, and other general medical conditions are taken into account when deciding whether or not blood thinner shots are necessary after your body lift. Dr. Hirsch will discuss this with you at the time of your consultation.

Is a body lift covered by insurance?


In general, most major insurance companies do not cover body lift procedures. Dr. Hirsch’s team will work with you to help determine insurance coverage of your procedure.

When can I start exercising again after a body lift procedure?


After a body lift, it is very important that you walk during the first night after surgery! This will help minimize the chance of blood clots and also decrease the risks of pneumonia. Once you get home, you should continue walking but avoid strenuous activity until Dr. Hirsch clears you to begin exercising again. This usually takes place around 6 weeks after surgery.

When can I go back to work after a body lift?


It really depends on what type of work you do. If you work at a desk job, you might feel like going back to work between 2-3 weeks following a body lift. If you work at a job that requires heavy physical activity, you might need to be off work for a longer period of time, possible 6-8 weeks.

Will I have drains after a body lift?


In most cases, Dr. Hirsch will use between 2-4 drains after your body lift procedure. It is very important to keep track of the amount of fluid that comes out so that Dr. Hirsch will know when the drains are ready to be removed. Dr. Hirsch’s office will give you a sheet that you can use to keep track of the drain fluid. When the drainage is low enough, Dr. Hirsch will remove the drains in the office. While the drains are present, you may shower as you normally would and wash the drain insertion sites with soap and water.

Dr. Elliot Hirsch

Meet Dr. Elliot Hirsch

Los Angeles plastic surgeon Dr. Elliot M. Hirsch has been educated at some of the most prestigious institutions in the country, including Johns Hopkins University, the University of Southern California, and Northwestern University. He is an active researcher and has published over 40 original papers and book chapters, and holds patents for his inventions in plastic surgery. Dr. Hirsch’s specialties include not only aesthetic surgery, but reconstructive surgery with special attention to aesthetic detail to ensure that patients achieve the best possible results.

To read more about Dr. Hirsch, please visit his extended biography page.


Read Dr. Hirsch's Biography