Karol Gutowski, MD, FACS

Questions? Call Ellen: 773-985-3993

Body Lift

Do you have loose skin after weight loss? Learn about a body lift & what to expect before you meet Dr Gutowski in person.


A well toned body with smooth firm contours is regarded as a sign of fitness achieved by healthy diet and exercise.

But exercise and a proper diet cannot always achieve results for individuals who have loose, sagging skin and uneven contours. Aging, sun damage, pregnancy, and significant fluctuations in weight, as well as genetic factors may contribute to poor tissue elasticity and can result in sagging of the abdomen, buttocks, thighs and upper arms.

If you are bothered by uneven body contours, or saggy loose tissues, and skin that does not respond to diet or exercise, a body lift maybe right for you. A body lift is a surgical procedure performed to improve excess loose and sagging skin in irregular contours of specific body regions, typically the abdomen, thighs and buttocks.

Body lift procedures can reshape and firm contours of the abdomen, sides and lower back area. Body lifts can also improve the appearance of buttocks that maybe sagging, flat or shaped unevenly.

Body lift procedures usually involve some use of liposuction. In cases where skin elasticity is poor, a combination of liposuction and body lift techniques may be recommended. This program presents an overview of the body lift procedure. It is not a substitute for a complete consultation with a plastic surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

A consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon, a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, who may also be a member of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, is the first step to learn how body lift procedures can enhance your appearance and improve your self image.

In general, a consultation will include a discussion of your goals, an evaluation of your individual case and the options available to you. Your surgeon will also discuss the course of treatment recommended for you, the likely outcomes of your body lift, and any potential risks associated with the procedure. Your plastic surgeon will answer any questions you may have about surgical body lifts.

During the consultation, you will be asked to share your expectations for surgery and your personal health history. Full disclosure of your health history is important for your safety. You should inform your physician of any life threatening illness or medical conditions in your family. You must also be candid about your current medications, vitamins, herbal supplements, alcohol, tobacco and drug use.

A body lift is best performed on healthy adult men and women who are generally close to their ideal body weight. Good candidates are individuals who do not have a life threatening illness or medical conditions that can impair healing. A positive outlook, with specific and realistic goals for improvement of your appearance is essential.

Pregnancy or significant fluctuations in weight can affect the improvement achieved by a body lift. You may be advised to postpone your body lift if you are planning future pregnancies, or if you are not at a stable and relatively normal weight for your height.

If you smoke, you are at increased risk of poor healing and more visible scars, and therefore, it is advisable to stop smoking for several weeks before and after surgery.

Certain health conditions may preclude you as a candidate for a body lift, or require special precautions. These conditions include cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, or certain other circulatory disorders and diabetes.

By making the decision to consult with a board certified plastic surgeon and following physician recommendations, you are taking an important step in helping to ensure your safety. A board certified plastic surgeon is a physician who is specifically trained in plastic surgery of the face and entire body.

Prior to your procedure, you will be asked to sign informed consent documents. These documents ensure that you fully understand the procedure you will undergo, and its potential risks and complications. In addition, you must commit to precisely following all of the instructions you are given.

Instructions include pre surgical considerations, such as testing and medications, day surgery requirements, medications, and specific information related to Anastasia. Prior to surgery, it is important to discuss all your questions and convey any concerns you may have regarding your surgery to your surgeon.

A body lift may be performed in an accredited office based surgical facility, an ambulatory surgical facility or a hospital.

Body lift procedures are more commonly performed under general anesthesia. However, in some cases local anesthesia with sedation may be used. The decision for anesthesia will be based on the requirements of your specific procedure, any additional procedures that may be performed in the same surgical session and considerations of patient and surgeon preference.

A body lift may be performed in conjunction with other surgical procedures such as liposuction, or surgery to improve the size, shape and position of your breasts. Your health, and the extent of your body lift, will determine if procedures can be safely performed in one surgical session, or if staged procedures may be more appropriate. Your body lift will be individualized to your specific conditions, and the regions to be treated.

Conditions that may be improved by a body lift include dimpled or uneven soft tissue called cellulite, lax loose skin, excess fat and tissue and sagging body contours.

A body lift is a surgical procedure and therefore requires incisions. The incisions are usually lengthy. Incision length and location depend on the amount and location of excess skin to be removed, as well as surgeon preference. Advanced techniques usually allow incisions to be placed in strategic locations where they can be hidden by most types of clothing and swimsuits. One common technique for a body lift places incisions along a bikini pattern to tighten the abdomen, groin, waist, thigh and buttocks. The incision around the body, usually within thong bikini lines, removes a belt of excess skin and fat and repositions and tightens tissues for a smoother, better toned, lower body contour.

Through these incisions, your plastic surgeon will remove excess fat, reshape and reduce excess underlying tissue, re drape the skin over the newly shaped contours and reduce excess skin. Sutures, skin adhesives, tapes or clips close the skin incisions.

Following the body lift, you may have small thin tubes placed in or near your incisions to drain any excess fluid that accumulates, or you may be placed in a compression garment, or wrapped in elastic bandages to reduce swelling.

Before being released, you and an accompanying family member, friend or caregiver will be given specific instructions and signs to watch for in the treated regions, or in your overall health. If you have had your abdomen or waistline contoured by a body lift, standing fully upright may be uncomfortable and may stress any internal sutures as they hell. A buttocks lift may make it uncomfortable for you to sit or lie flat. For these reasons, you may be instructed to maintain a somewhat bent position, and to sleep with pillows elevating your knees. Your plastic surgeon will advise you to begin light walking soon after your procedure, and to engage in light walking every two to three hours regularly in the first few days after a body lift.

Other instructions may include drain care, wound care, and wearing compression garments. Follow all instructions carefully. This is essential to achieving the best outcome. You will also be instructed when to follow up with your plastic surgeon.

Following the body lift, you will experience some numbness, swelling, bruising and soreness. In addition, your skin may feel unusually firm. These are all common conditions. Any discomfort you experience can be controlled with medications.

Complications associated with body lift procedures include blood pooling beneath the skin, called the hematoma, fluid accumulation under the skin or seroma, infection, or poor healing at the incision site, blood clots in the legs, excessive or widened scars, numbness and other changes in skin sensation, and irregular or asymmetric contours or scars.

All surgery carries risks associated with anesthesia. These risks will be fully discussed prior to your consent.

Depending on the extent of your body lift, you can expect to be up and about within a few days following surgery. Initial healing of incisions may take five to 10 days, at which time any sutures or clips will be removed if necessary. Healing will continue for several weeks to months as swelling continues to resolve, and your new contours take shape. During this time, it is important to remain active. However, you should not engage in any lifting, bending, pushing, or strenuous exercise until your plastic surgeon has given you clearance.

The smoother tighter contours that result from a body lift are apparent almost immediately, although initially obscured by some swelling and bruising. In addition, skin quality is dramatically improved, both in appearance and feel. The resulting incision lines are permanent, although they may be concealed by many styles of undergarments.

The results of a body lift are generally permanent, as long as you maintain a stable weight and healthy lifestyle, including eating well, and a regular fitness routine. Diligent sun protection is essential, particularly during the first year following your body lift to prevent pigment irregularities and darkening of surgical scars.

Choosing to undergo a body lift or any plastic surgery procedure, whether cosmetic or reconstructive, is an important decision. So is selecting a plastic surgeon. Not all doctors who perform plastic surgery, or who use the title of plastic surgeon, are board certified in plastic surgery. In order to be certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, a physician must graduate from an accredited medical school, and then complete a minimum of five years of surgical training, including an accredited plastic surgery residency program. The physician must pass a comprehensive written and oral exam in order to become a board certified plastic surgeon.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery have prepared this educational program to supplement your personal consultation with a plastic surgeon who is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. Plastic Surgeons with this certification have completed approved surgical training and rigorous examinations in plastic surgery, including both cosmetic and reconstructive procedures of the face and entire body.