What Type of Anaesthesia is Used for a Body Lift?

Is the body lift recovery going to require much time in the hospital because of the effects of the anaesthesia or other concerns?

Doctor Answers 8

Anesthesia for body lifts

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Most body lift procedures are performed under general anesthesia, however, this does not mean that you have to stay in the hospital after surgery. I perform almost all of my body contouring procedures including lower body lifts as out-patient procedures. The use of tumescent fluid during the surgery significantly cuts down on your pain after surgery and makes it much easier to go home after the procedure.

Body Lift with IV Anesthesia instead of General Anesthesia

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I have been performing my Body Lifts exclusively under IV Sedation for the past 5 years. I use only Board Certified Anesthesiologist well trained in IV Sedation.

As is well known, the Lower Body Lift procedure can take 7-8 hours as it includes a Tummy Tuck, posterior Buttocks Lift, and an Outer Thigh Lift. Prior to 2007, I used General Anesthesia. However, after 5 years of experience with IV Sedation, I would be hard pressed to go back to General!  

With IV Anesthesia we eliminate much of the pulmonary risks associated with long cases and General Anesthesia. The risk of pulmonary embolism goes up greatly with long General Anesthesia operating room time. This does not happen with IV Anesthesia.

Additionally, patients recover much faster post operatively as they have much less nausea.  I have performed well over 100 Body Lifts in the past 5 years and no one has every had to be hospitalized. Every patient goes home or back to their hotel that night with a nurse or caretaker.

Below (web reference) is a blog post I wrote in 2009 about the different risks. I am even more convinced than I was then!


Ricardo Rodriguez, MD

Baltimore , Maryland

Body Lift Anesthesia

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The body lift (or circumferential abdominoplasty) should only be performed under general anesthesia for many reasons. First, the surgeon must be focused on the surgery and not constantly checking your blood pressure, airway, and comfort (although we are peripherally aware of those too). Second, tje amopunt of local anesthetic that would be necessary would be toxic. Third, you don't want to be awake during this procedure and know what is happening to you. Fourth, of conscious sedation is used, you run the risk of losing your airway during turning.

I only do my body-lifts in the hospital with a board certified anesthesiologist and admit the patients overnight for observation and comfort. All of my patients appreciate this amount of care.

Body Lift Usually An Outpatient Procedure

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Almost all body lift procedures are done as an outpatient procedure in my practice. When combined with other changes such as breast reshaping and arm lifts, the patient may need to stay overnite in the facility. But in all such cases, they are able to go home the next morning. Rarely do I do these procedures in a hospital setting unless the patient has other medical problems or is undergoing additional procedures by another surgeon.

Body Lifting and Anesthesia

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Thank you for the question.

General anesthesia  is usually used for body lifting surgery.  This procedure can be done as an inpatient or outpatient depending on patient and surgeon specifics. I hope this helps.

Recovery From body Lift

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I do body lifts as an out patient procedure the vast majority of the time, so hospitalization is avoided. A general anesthetic is required because of the difficulty of getting an epidural to a high enough location to work on the upper abdomen.With an experienced anesthesiologist a "light" general is possible so that the after effects are lessened. It is important to have some degree of activity in the early post operative period to minimize the chance of blood clots forming in your legs, so I encourage mobilization. I find recovery harder on those who are still relatively heavy and on those with any underlying medical conditions. It is important to be in good nutritional status and good frame of mind to recover well from this important undertaking. 

Anesthesia for body contouring surgery

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Body contouring surgery can be performed with a combination of general anesthesia and the use of an epidural for postoperative pain relief.  Pain pumps can also be used for isolated areas of postoperative surgery such as breast and abdominoplasty surgery.

General Anesthesia Required For Body Lift

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A body lift is a big operation and cannot be safely performed without general or, at least, regional anesthesia.  I typically keep my patients in the hospital for 48 hours post-operatively.  You must be willing and able to invest the time for satisfactory recovery with a body lift.  It would require toxic amounts of local anesthesia to do this procedure which could result in death.

John Whitt, MD (retired)
Louisville Plastic Surgeon

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.