Also known as body lift or back lift
Upper-body-lift surgery may consist of one or several procedures, including an upper arm lift, breast lift (or gynecomastia) or surgery to remove fat rolls along the back. Loose, sagging skin resulting from dramatic weight loss or after liposuction is removed to create a tighter and smoother contour, improving your profile and leading to renewed self-confidence.
These are the top three pros and cons to weigh when considering an upper body lift. If you want to focus on what is unique to you, please consult with your aesthetic plastic surgeon.
Are you a good candidate for a upper body lift?
In order to undergo an upper body lift, you must be in good physical health. If you have lost a considerable amount of weight, have loose, sagging skin or want to improve the contours of your body, you might benefit from this procedure. The following are some common reasons why you may want to consider an upper body lift:
If you are in good general health, have a positive attitude and realistic expectations, you are most likely a good candidate for this procedure.
Patients who undergo an upper body lift will most likely be put under general anesthesia. Your experience will depend greatly on which procedures you elect to have done:
Upper arm lift
Individuals who are considering an upper arm lift, also known as brachioplasty, may have the fat removed from their arms by liposuction. If you want to have loose skin reduced on your arms, your doctor will make an incision underneath the armpit or along the back of the arm. For patients with massive weight loss, it’s likely this incision will run from the elbow to the armpit and perhaps extend along part of the upper chest wall and toward the back. Excess skin will then be removed through this incision.
If you are interested in a breast lift, your plastic surgeon will likely make three incisions: one around the areola, one extending from the bottom edge of the areola down to the breast crease (the inframammary fold) and the final incision underneath the breast, following its natural crease and curve. The surgeon will then remove any excess skin and relocate the nipple and areola to a higher position on the breast. This is the most common way to perform a breast lift; however, your surgeon may forego one or more of these incisions, depending on the shape and contours of your chest. For men, see gynecomastia surgery.
Those who want fat rolls removed from around their middle or lower back will have incisions on both sides of their midback (where their folds used to be) or near the bra line for women. The excess skin will be removed from the area and the incisions will be closed with absorbable sutures, glue or tape.
Depending on the areas of your body you wish to target, you may opt for an upper arm lift, a breast lift, surgery to remove fat rolls along the back or a combination of these procedures. Your plastic surgeon will help you determine which procedures are best for you.
Your surgeon will make a number of incisions when performing your upper body lift but will take extra care to hide the scars in areas that are not easily seen or are hidden by clothing.
Liposuction: Because liposuction incisions are small, the scars are also small. Most liposuction scars fade and are barely perceptible over time.
Upper arm lift (brachioplasty):
Breast lift: A breast lift commonly involves three incisions: around the areolas (nipples), downward from the areolas to the breast creases and horizontally along the breast creases.
Back lift: This incision goes across the midback and will be strategically located to be hidden by your bra strap or bathing suit strap.
It’s important to choose your surgeon for the right reasons:
Members of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery are experienced and qualified to perform your aesthetic procedure. Learn how to select a surgeon.
After finding a board-certified plastic surgeon in your area who is experienced in performing upper body lifts, you will need to make an office appointment for your consultation. Generally, because of the in-depth nature of the consultation, there is a cost associated with the initial visit.
During your plastic surgery consultation, your surgeon will ask you about the areas of your body that you’d like to focus on, such as your arms, back or chest. He or she will examine these specific areas to evaluate whether they will benefit from surgery. The surgeon may draw lines on your body to demonstrate where incisions will be made or what improvements are possible. You may also view before-and-after photos to learn more about what results can be achieved with an upper body lift.
You should come to the consultation prepared to discuss your complete medical history and answer the following questions:
Your surgeon may also:
Based on your goals, physical characteristics, and the surgeon’s years of training and experience, your surgeon will share recommendations and information with you, including:
For a general list of questions to ask your surgeon about his or her background, to find out about plastic surgery safety, and to plan your procedure, visit the Planning Toolkit.
We developed these questions to help you:
It is important for you to take an active role in your surgery, so please use this list of questions as a starting point for your initial consultation:
Your surgeon will provide you with preoperative instructions, answer any questions you may have, take a detailed medical history and perform a physical exam to determine your fitness for surgery. You also may be advised to visit your regular physician for a medical checkup. Patients who are also undergoing breast-lift surgery will likely need a mammogram before the day of their procedure.
In advance of your procedure, your surgeon will ask you to:
Prepare your home for recovery.
What can I expect on the day of upper-body-lift surgery?
Your surgery may be performed in an accredited hospital, a free-standing ambulatory facility or an office-based surgical suite. Your surgeon will give you an estimate of how long your surgery will last based on the details of your procedure.
When you wake up, you may find the following:
After surgery, you will be taken into a recovery area, where you will continue to be closely monitored.
Before leaving for home, you (or someone looking after you) should feel comfortable emptying and resetting your drains.
You may go home on the day of surgery if you have skilled nursing help or you can spend two or three days in an aftercare center with a nurse or in the hospital, unless you and your plastic surgeon have made other plans for your immediate postoperative recovery. Under no circumstances will you be permitted to go home alone or stay home without another adult present. Follow your doctor’s recommendation in relation to this decision.
Your doctor will discuss how long it will be before you can return to your normal level of activity and work. After surgery, you and your caregiver will receive detailed instructions about your postsurgical care, including information about:
See options for short-term recovery locations in Aftercare and Recovery (Planning Toolkit).
Immediately after your upper body lift
Depending on the intensity of your surgery and the number of procedures you undergo, you may be asked to stay in the hospital for up to two days as you recover, although many patients will be able to return home after a few hours.
Recovery time frame after an upper body lift
No matter which procedures were included in your upper body lift, you will need to rest and refrain from any strenuous activity for several weeks; however, it is a good idea to get out of bed and move around occasionally to avoid problems resulting from blood clots.
The procedures associated with an upper body lift are extensive, and thus it is essential that you comply with your doctor’s instructions before and after surgery to achieve the maximum results with minimal to no complications. If you grow concerned about any of the experiences you have after your procedure, or if swelling and pain last for more than two weeks, you should contact your doctor immediately.
Results from an upper body lift are long-lasting but can be greatly influenced by changes in the body. If you gain or lose weight following your upper body lift, you may see some of your results diminish; however, maintaining a healthy body weight can help results last for years or decades, barring any other issues that may affect body size. It’s important to remember that skin sags naturally as a result of aging, so certain areas of your body may not remain as taut as they were immediately after surgery.
Maintain a relationship with your aesthetic plastic surgeon
For safety, as well as the most beautiful and healthy outcome, it’s important to return to your plastic surgeon's office for follow-up evaluation at prescribed times and whenever you notice any changes in your thighs. Do not hesitate to contact your surgeon when you have any questions or concerns.
The cost of an upper body lift varies from doctor to doctor, from one geographic area to another and with the technique that is performed. Because upper-body-lift surgery is usually elective, insurance usually does not cover these costs; however, if your upper body lift is one of several plastic surgeries following bariatric surgery and dramatic weight loss, there is a small chance that it may be covered. Many surgeons offer patient financing plans to make the procedure more affordable.
The following numbers only reflect the physician/surgeon fees last year and do not include fees for the surgical facility, anesthesia, medical tests, prescriptions, surgical garments or other miscellaneous costs related to surgery.
Choose your surgeon based on quality, training and experience—not cost.
See why ASAPS members are widely recognized for upholding the highest standards in the area of aesthetic plastic surgery by viewing their basic credentials, training and certifications.
Fortunately, significant complications from upper-body-lift surgery are infrequent.
All surgical procedures have some degree of risk. Some of the potential complications of all surgeries are:
Other risks specific to upper body lifts are outlined below:
You can help minimize certain risks by following the advice and instructions of your board-certified plastic surgeon, both before and after your upper-body-lift surgery.