Body Lift

Patients with extensive amounts of excess or hanging skin in multiple areas of the body may benefit from a more inclusive, larger scale body lift procedure. More extensive body lift procedures can target the entire body (a total body lift) or specific regions (upper, mid, or lower body lifts). Total body lifts are useful to patients who have lost skin elasticity all over their body. Although full body lift surgery is a complex surgery requiring an extended period of recovery, doctors are often able to achieve the best overall aesthetic results with this treatment. Full body lifts address every part of a patient's body where fat and excess skin frequently accumulate: the arms, breasts, buttocks, hips, thighs, and abdomen. Learn more about total body lift surgery and visit the DocShop gallery to view body lift before and after photos.

Buttocks lift surgery, also called "Brazilian butt lift surgery," is an increasingly common plastic surgery technique intended to firm and enhance a patient's rear end. Like other body lifts, butt lift surgery is useful for removing excess skin while toning and tightening the remaining skin. In the Brazilian butt lift, a patient's butt is enhanced using purified fat cells from elsewhere in the body. Patients achieve a rounder, fuller, firmer buttock using their own tissue and without the need for butt implants. Butt lift surgery has been shown to be both safe and effective while providing patients with long-lasting, beautiful results. Many butt lift patients report increased self-confidence after the procedure. Learn more about Brazilian butt lift surgery and visit the DocShop gallery to view butt lift before and after photos.

What is a body lift?

A body lift improves the shape and tone of the underlying tissue that supports fat and skin.

Excess sagging fat and skin are removed and the procedure(s) can improve a dimpled, irregular skin surface, which is commonly known as cellulite.

A body lift may include these areas:

Abdominal area – locally or extending around the sides and into the lower back area

Buttocks that may be low, flat or shaped unevenly

Groin that may sag into inner thigh

Thigh – the inner, outer, or posterior thigh, or the thigh’s circumference

Aging, sun damage, pregnancy, significant fluctuations in weight, and genetic factors may contribute to poor tissue elasticity that can result in sagging of the abdomen, buttocks and thighs.

What a body lift won't do

Body lifts are not intended strictly for the removal of excess fat. Liposuction alone can remove excess fat deposits where skin has good elasticity and is able to naturally conform to new body contours.

In cases where skin elasticity is poor, a combination of liposuction and body lift techniques may be recommended

Body lift recovery

During your body lift surgery recovery, dressings or bandages will be applied to the incisions after the procedure is complete. Small, thin tubes may be temporarily placed under the skin to drain any excess blood that may collect.

You will be given specific instructions that may include how to care for your surgical site(s) following surgery, medications to apply or take orally to aid healing and reduce the risk of infection, specific concerns to look for at the surgical site or in your general health, how to care for your drains, and when to follow up with your plastic surgeon.

Be sure to ask your body lift surgeon specific questions about what you can expect during your individual recovery period:

  • Where will I be taken after my surgery is complete?

  • What medication will I be given or prescribed after surgery?

  • Will I have dressings/bandages after surgery?

  • When will they be removed?

  • How should I bathe after surgery?

  • Are stitches removed? When?

  • When will the drains be removed?

  • When can I resume normal activity and exercise?

  • When do I return for follow-up care?

Body lift surgery risks and safety information

The decision to have plastic surgery is extremely personal. You will have to decide if the benefits will achieve your goals and if the risks and potential complications of body lift surgery are acceptable.

Your plastic surgeon and/or staff will explain in detail the risks associated with surgery. You will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the procedure you will undergo and any risks or potential complications.

Possible body lift surgery risks include:

  • Anesthesia risks

  • Bleeding (hematoma)

  • Infection

  • Poor wound healing

  • Fluid accumulation (blood or serum)

  • Numbness or other changes in skin sensation

  • Fatty tissue found deep in the skin might die (fat necrosis)

  • Pain, which may persist

  • Recurrent looseness of skin

  • Persistent swelling in the legs

  • Asymmetries

  • Deep vein thrombosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications

  • Possible need for revisional surgery

  • Skin loss

  • Sutures may spontaneously surface through the skin, become visible or produce irritation and require removal

  • Unfavorable scarring

These risks and others will be fully discussed prior to your consent. It is important that you address all your questions directly with your plastic surgeon.

Body lift words to know

Abdominoplasty: A surgical procedure to correct the apron of excess skin hanging over your abdomen.

Circumferential incision: A surgical incision around the body to remove the "belt" of excess skin and fat and additional incisions that may resemble a bikini bottom pattern.

Circumferential thigh lift: A surgical procedure to correct sagging of the outer and mid-thigh.

General anesthesia: Drugs and/or gases used during an operation to relieve pain and alter consciousness.

Hematoma: Blood pooling beneath the skin.

Intravenous sedation: Sedatives administered by injection into a vein to help you relax.

Liposuction: Also called lipoplasty or suction lipectomy, this procedure vacuums out fat from beneath the skin's surface to reduce fullness.


Body lift procedural steps

Body lift procedures are surgical procedures and they require extensive incisions. Incision length and pattern depend on the amount and location of excess skin to be removed, as well as surgical judgment.

Advanced techniques usually allow incisions to be placed in strategic locations where they can be hidden by most types of clothing and swimsuits.

Step 1 – Anesthesia

Medications are administered for your comfort during the surgical procedure. The choices include intravenous sedation and general anesthesia. Your doctor will recommend the best choice for you.

Step 2 – The incision

One common technique of complete lower body lift uses incisions similar to a bikini pattern to tighten the abdomen, groin, waist, thigh and buttock in one procedure.

A circumferential incision around the body removes an apron of excess skin and fat and repositions and tightens tissues.

Lower body lift incision

A combination of liposuction and surgical body lifts may be necessary to achieve an improved contour.

Step 3 – Closing the incisions

Deep support sutures within underlying tissues help to form the newly shaped contours. Sutures, skin adhesives, tapes, or clips close the skin incisions.

Body lift closing incision

Step 4 – See the results

The results of a body lift are visible almost immediately. It may take as long as one to two years for the final results to fully develop. Get more information on body lift results.