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 37

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


Allentown Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

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 114 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.

Jeffrey M. Darrow, MD
Boston Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 98 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
4.5 out of 5 stars 36 reviews

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 61 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 26 reviews

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 27 reviews

Recovery time for body lift

Recovery varies a little from patient to patient, but 2 weeks could probably be to soon for you to retake -your normal activities. After surgery you will probably have drains that need be removed in 7-10 days, and pain meds for the first 3 weeks. Some patients return to work on week 3 post op, but mostly is for deskjobs because you still need to keep taking good care of your incisions, and your movement will still be restricted to no hard physical activity for 6 -8 weeks.

Alejandro Galvez, MD
Mexico Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

What is the recovery from a lower body lift?

A lower body lift is an extensive surgery done to remove excess skin and fat hanging from the abdomen, waist, lateral thighs, and buttocks.  It typically includes a full tummy tuck and lifts the other areas mentioned.  Surgery can take 6+ hours and I require a body lift patient to stay in the hospital overnight.  I place 4 drains, 2 in the front and 2 in the back.  Each drain is removed after they individually put out less then 30 mL in a 1-2 day period.  Drains will stay in anywhere from 1-3 weeks (every patient is different).

Recovery itself it relatively straightforward.  Eat well, drink lots of fluids, keep your pain under control, and get up and move as early as possible.  Patients will require a minimum of 2 weeks off work, possibly up to 4+ if they have a strenuous job.  Again, every patient is different and I will come up with a custom recovery plan for each individual.  You will sleep on your back with plenty of soft pillows under your lower back with your head raised to about 30 degrees.  No lying on your side or belly until you are healed.  

It is very common to experience some wound healing issues, most commonly some mild wound separation in a few random spots.  Remember, this incision is VERY LONG.  In almost 100% of patients, this can be handled with some local wound care and the area will close up nicely.  Rarely some wound excision needs to be performed in the office.   

I typically take postoperative photos at 3 months, so you use that timeframe as a good reference point for when you will be looking really good.  You can resume most activity at 6 weeks, and can resume abdominal or back exercises at 8 weeks.  

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.