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 33

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

Recovery From a Lower Body Lift

Some people would recover from a lower body lift and be able to return to work in two weeks, but for many that would be cutting it too short.  Being in good aerobic conditioning and having good nutritional status after weight loss can make recovery easier.  Having good personal support and a relatively stress free time period can also enhace recovery.   Most people experience fatigue for 4-6 weeks after the surgery even though they nay be able to perform well in a desk job much earlier.  It is best to give yourself adequate time to recover to get the full benefit of this life changing surgery. 

Mary Lee Peters, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 109 reviews

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!

David N. Hing, MD
Ann Arbor Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

Lower body lift recovery time.

Thank you for your photos.  It appears you have a relatively small amount of skin which actually hangs although the skin may be loose in other areas.  If you are concerned about the loose/hanging skin of your abdomen, sides and the buttock area then a lower body lift, which lifts and rejuvenates the entire trunk would give you the best result.  I routinely do this as a single operation in approximately 4 hours.  There is one night in the hospital and recovery is 2 - 4 weeks.  Recovery is longer for the lower body lift vs the tummy tuck as the surgery is more extensive, but the overall correction of the trunk is better with the lower body lift.  If you work at a desk then returning to work in 2 weeks should be possible.  Complication rates are low if proper pre operative and post operative instructions, especially about walking, are followed.

Lower body lift

The surgery to perform a circumferential procedure usually takes me between 4-5 hours.  The recovery time for the patient is usually about 1-2 weeks. The drains may stay in as long as 3 weeks and come out in as little as 1 week on average.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 23 reviews

Two weeks is probably not enough time...

My patients generally take 3-4 weeks to recover from abdominoplasty and lower body lifts. Although we are very successful in managing post-operative pain the incisions are large and healing properly requires rest, attention to dressing care, and proper nutrition.  Returning to work too soon can stress the body and result in complications such as infections and incision disruption.  Many of my patients are able to work from home after two weeks and work part time after three weeks.

Marisa Lawrence, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 37 reviews

Recovery from Body Lift Surgery

A body lift almost always accompanies a tummy tuck in a person who has lost 100 pounds or more. The previous excess weight expands the skin, making skin redundancy the norm in someone who has lost over a 100 pounds. The body lift portion of the procedure does not typically lengthen the recovery from tummy tuck surgery yet makes the first week or so a little more difficult because the incision is circumferential. The vast majority of patients should still be able to return to work in a couple of weeks. If this surgery is combined with thigh skin excision procedures, the recovery might be a little longer. Complications can occur where wound separation requires prolonged healing, but it usually does not affect the ability to return to work.

Recovery from a Tummy Tuck or Lower Body LIft

Congratulations on the weight loss!!! The recovery from a tummy tuck should not be more than a few days. You are not healed and you will not be back at the gym in two or three days but you should be able to get out for walks, go to dinner, drive and do light house work etc. This may seem a little contrary to other answers you may get, but using a rapid recovery protocol, we actually expect you to be up and doing things the next day.

The rapid recovery protocol also greatly reduces complications such as blood clots, wound healing problems and infection because it encourages increased blood supply to the healing areas.

This applies to all tummy tucks, even when there is extensive muscle repair or hernia repair.

I hope that helps.

Brian Windle, MD
Kirkland Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 48 reviews

Body Lift Recovery

The recovery period for a body lift varies depending on what procedures are elected and it could range anywhere from 3-6 weeks. Following body lift surgery is common for patients to experience swelling, bruising, tenderness or pain in the treated area(s). These are normal symptoms that should taper off over time but can be addressed with oral pain medication to minimize any discomfort. Individuals planning to undergo the procedure should plan to take about two weeks off from work or their daily routine. During this time, they should rest as much as possible and avoid rigorous activity. My patients typically will begin light exercise such as walking at 3 weeks post op. Full activity is allowed at 4 weeks on average. Your surgeon should provide complete instructions for both preoperative and postoperative care.

Scott Chapin, MD, FACS
Philadelphia Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 20 reviews

Recovery time

The answer is dependent on your procedures. Generally, 6-8 weeks of protecting your incisions should cover most uncomplicated situations with a body  lift. Even after this time, you will not be fully recovered, as there will be some lingering edema and the scars will be immature. Complete healing and final results will typically be apparent at 6 months; maybe even longer in some cases.  Complications after such cases are fairly common (mostly minor) but will often prolong recovery when they happen.  I would advise that it is very unlikely that 2 weeks is long enough for a procedure of this magnitude, and you should adjust your timing and plans accordingly.

Jeffrey D. Wagner, MD
Indianapolis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 16 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.