Tips on recovering from a body lift

Posted by Monarch Plastic Surgery

Oct 31, 2014 9:00:00 AM

body-lift-recoveryLosing a significant amount of weight is reason for celebration, as is giving birth and adding to your family. However, both of these are often responsible for an excess of skin and fat, particularly on the abdomen, buttocks, and thighs. After prolonged periods of being stretched, this skin and underlying tissue loses its elasticity and is unable to bounce back after weight loss or birth. Aging may also reduce the body’s ability to regain its youthful figure.

When the skin and other tissues don’t respond to diet and exercise, a body lift may be a good treatment option; however, some patients may be concerned about recovering from body lift surgery. Today we offer you a brief overview of body lift surgery along with several tips that promote healing during recovery.

What is a body lift?

A body lift is a surgical procedure that removes excess skin and fat, smoothing and tightening the treated areas while also contouring the body. In some patients, a body lift may also reduce cellulite. Body lifts are often used to treat multiple body areas at once, most typically the abdomen, buttocks, and thighs. Although a body lift may be performed for a variety of reasons, the most common is to improve the body shape and contour after significant weight loss or pregnancy when the skin has lost its elasticity and is unable to bounce back on its own.

Body lift recovery, in general

From start to finish, complete recovery from a body lift may take a few months; however, the immediate recovery period is typically four to six weeks during which swelling, pain, and bruising go down. During these first several weeks, your ability to move or be active may be limited due to the normal discomfort of surgery, but also as a result of your post-surgical recovery instructions. During this time, many patients feel fatigued as their body recovers and repairs itself. It is important to follow all of your surgeon’s instructions after your body lift, as doing so can increase your healing speed while decreasing risks. Most patients require four to six weeks off from work, depending on the nature of their jobs. Between the second and fourth weeks of recovery, sutures and drains are typically removed.

Most patients do well during their recovery from body lift surgery. The particular rate of healing and the symptoms you may experience during recovery will be unique to your situation. However, there are several tips that may help speed up the process.

Eat a healthy, low-sodium diet

Consuming a diet that contains sodium can cause water retention and increase swelling, but a low-sodium diet can help avoid any discomfort. In addition, a healthy diet of fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean protein should provide your body with the nutrients it needs to aid healing. Don’t forget to stay hydrated as well.

Ice and cold compresses

Most patients find relief from ice or cold compresses in the first few days after surgery. Cold compresses that are applied for up to 20 minutes at a time to surgical sites can help reduce swelling, pain, and discomfort. Before surgery, fill your freezer with several cold compresses. Ideally, have at least two per surgical site so that while you are using one, another is still in the freezer ready for use. Keep swapping them out so that you have a continuous supply.

Hot showers

While a hot shower may be tempting and even evoke thoughts of comfort, hot water can actually make you feel worse. Heat and steam can increase swelling and also irritate surgical incisions. Lukewarm warm to moderately warm water will allow you to bathe with comfort. Don’t immerse your surgical incisions in a bath or shower regularly until your surgeon gives you permission to do so. Your incisions will be tender and fragile at first. Your surgeon should offer you tips on bathing between surgery and release you to take normal showers or baths.

Compression garments

Compression garments may be suggested to help minimize healing and bruising and promote healing. Your surgeon should suggest a compression garment for you based on the extensiveness of your surgery or the areas treated by your body lift. It is important to follow your doctor’s instructions regarding compression garments. The garment should fit quite snugly without impairing circulation and or sensation.


During the first several days after surgery, you may need to sleep on your back in a reclined, but not flat, position. Elevating the body will help promote healthy circulation. Most patients benefit from using either a wedge pillow or propping themselves up on several pillows to sleep. If this is uncomfortable, sleeping in a recliner may be an alternative option. Depending on the particular nature of your body lift, your surgeon may suggest placing wedge pillows below your knees or legs to elevate these areas and to promote circulation of healthy, nutrient filled blood to surgical sites.

If you have been considering plastic surgery to address excess skin or tissue after weight loss, pregnancy, or for other concerns, please call Monarch Plastic Surgery today at (913) 663-3838 for our Leawood and Lansing offices and (816) 436-3262 for North Kansas City. We look forward to seeing you soon.

Topics: Plastic surgery

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