What is the Typical Recovery from a Lower Body Lift?

I'm considering whether to get a tummy tuck or body lift and maybe some skin reduction on thighs if possible. I am currently a 157lb., 6'1", 27-year-old male, and I have lost ~100-110 lbs. over the past two years. I have some excess skin that has not responded to weight loss. It's worst in the abdomen/butt/thighs (mostly on the sides of the body). My major concerns are recovery time and danger of complications from the operation (is a body lift significantly more dangerous than a tummy tuck)? I wouldn't be able to miss more than 2 weeks of work. Thanks.

Doctor Answers 28

Recovery from Body Lift is More Demanding than an Abdominoplasty Alone

The lower body lift tightens the buttocks and back of the thighs, hips and outer thighs, and abdomen and inner thighs by removing a band of tissue circumferentially from the spine in back to the abdomen in front.

This limits bending forward, bending backwards, and bending side to side. Frequently, 6 to 7 drains are placed under the skin to remove serum fluid, which may build up and stretch the skin. Sitting, lying, and transferring from one position to another is limited by the incision placement and the presence of drains.

We advise our patients to set aside 4 to 6 weeks to heal, depending upon how physical a job they do. Drains may take 2 to 4 weeks for removal. Sutures may be removed 2 to 3 weeks after surgery. Wound separations may occur, delaying wound healing (but rarely requiring further surgery).

I think that 2 weeks is far too optimistic a time frame to anticipate being back to work after a body lift. Even an abdominoplasty alone would require more than 2 weeks for healing in a physical job. We would not consider a bodylift to be much more dangerous than an abdominoplasty, but you should realize that the much longer bodylift incison is at higher risk for delayed wound healing issues and for seroma formation.

Deciding whether to go with an abdominoplasty or body lift really depends upon the amount of extra thigh skin and its looseness. This is not easily assessed in the enclosed picture. I would advise that see a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon with extensive experience in body contouring for massive weight loss patients (especially body lifts) for an in person consultation to determine which option is best for you.

Good Luck!

Ann Arbor Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Recovery time

The recovery time for lower body lift depending on the operation is variable.  The recovery time for the anterior abdominoplasty is typically 4 weeks.  With the addition of thigh lift and buttock lift with posterior incisions I would say that the patient would likely require an extra 2 weeks recover.  4-6 weeks can be deemed appropriate.  He will likely have drains placed for at least 2-3 weeks.  and medication for 2-4 weeks to help with postoperative pain

What is the Typical Recovery from a Lower Body Lift?

The early recovery from lower body lift, which in some form or another includes abdominoplasty, is from 4-6 wks.  Of course, this does not mean that patients must be at bed rest for longer that 12-24 hours.  Early ambulation is necessary to minimize risk of venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.  During the first week, walking in a hunched position is normal.  Returning to work after this operation is very dependent on the kind of work being performed.  For desk jobs it may be possible to return as early as 2-3 wks.  For jobs requiring prolonged standing or physical effort, 4-6 wks is more likely the needed recovery period.  The abdominoplasty of the lower body lift, when performed with muscle tightening, is the component which most influences the return to work.

Paul Fortes, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Body lift recovery

Congratulations on the weight loss.  Two weeks off before returning to work is typically for my body lift patients.  A body lift is quite a bit bigger than a tummy tuck, and it has more risks as well as a longer recovery.  From what I can see in your picture you may be better off doing a tummy tuck now and then a later stage thigh and buttocks lift.

David Stoker, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Body lift recovery


You should be able to return to an office job in two weeks most of the time.  A physically demanding job would require more time to heal.

Dr Rodger Shortt
Plastic Surgeon Oakville
Ass't Clin Professor
Director of Cosmetic Surgery Training,
McMaster University

Rodger Shortt, FRCSC
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 27 reviews

Lower Body Lift Recovery

Congratulations on your weight loss! In my practice, we consult with many patients who have experienced massive weight loss. It is very important to be at your goal weight for several months before your procedure to achieve the optimal results. Your excess skin can be removed through body contouring; specifically a circumferential body lift procedure. I advise consulting with a board-certified plastic surgeon who can determine if you are a candidate for surgery. Recovery is different for everybody, that being said, you may feel well enough to return to work two weeks post-surgery. I provide specific post-operative instructions which include wound care, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and refraining from strenuous activity for the duration of your recovery. Depending on your line of work, you may be able to return to a desk job at two weeks, but you will not be able to do any heavy lifting or anything that increases your heartrate.

Brian Coan, MD, FACS
Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 30 reviews


Congratulations on your successful weight loss.  You now face the challenging process of getting rid of the stubborn excess sagging skin.  In my experience, most massive weight loss patients benefit the most from a lower body lift as it addresses the abdomen, the buttocks, and the outer thighs during the same operative session.  It is almost impossible to say definitively that you would be able to return to work two weeks after any surgery let alone an extensive procedure like a body lift.  Your recovery will take as long as it takes and every person recovers differently.  For my tummy tuck patients I recommend they take off at least two weeks after surgery.  For my body lift patients I recommend they take off at least three weeks.  After surgery the goal is to make sure that you are relaxed and focused on your recovery and not stressed.  High levels of stress and anxiety could have a negative effect on your recovery and extend the time you need to recuperate.Any surgical procedure comes with its own risks and complications.  The body lift could be perceived as more “dangerous” because the total operation time is significantly longer than for a tummy tuck by itself.  The longer a patient is under anesthesia the higher the risk of anesthesia related complications.  I recommend researching for a board certified plastic surgeon that has experience in working with massive weight loss patients like you.  During the consultation process your board certified plastic surgeon will design a surgical plan that specifically addresses your needs and concerns.  Remember, a good candidate for cosmetic surgery is healthy both physically and mentally and also has realistic expectations about the procedure, the recovery period, and the final result.

Be well and good luck!


Tummy tuck body lift

The recovery will be directly related to the amount of tissue to be removed, the pre-operative condition that the patient has before surgery and the blood  loss during surgery this conbination will give you the answer.  After reviweing your pictures you will recovery for your ordinary activities  if everything goes well in aproximatly 3 weeks after surgery

Body Lift Recovery

If your general health and fitness level are good, it is possible that you will be able to return to work during your second post-operative week, depending on your job description from a body lift.  It is recommended that you not lift more than ten pounds for a few weeks. Furthermore, another requirement for returning to work is that you are no longer taking narcotic pain relievers.  Whether you would benefit most from a tummy tuck or a body lift would be determined at your consultation with your plastic surgeon. 

Body Lift

Dear Engineer 506:

Congratulations on your significant weight loss. You, like many others, have developed excess skin and fat of the abdomen, buttocks, and thighs. Since these are the areas you mentioned that are worst, I would suggest a body lift or a 360 body lift. This would address the abdomen, buttocks and thighs with the same surgery. If you undergo a tummy tuck, only your abdomen would be addressed.

The recovery time after a body lift takes approximately 2 to 3 weeks. The surgery is done under general anesthesia and takes approximately 6 to 8 hours. There can always be complications with whatever surgery is done. The risks with a body lift are slightly higher than with a tummy tuck but not significantly. The 360 Body Lift surgeries do take longer and the incision is longer. Therefore, the risks of wound breakdown and wound complications are slightly higher.

Approximately 80% of my patients are able to return to work two weeks after their body lift. I am assuming that your job as an engineer is mostly a desk job and does not entail a significant amount of lifting.

Please visit my website for more pictures on 360 body lifts.

Thank you and good luck.

J. Timothy Katzen, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 61 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.