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The effort, sacrifice and probable significant expense you have invested in your weight loss has been hugely worthwhile and this is bound to have had valuable health benefits, such as reduction in the need for medications for high blood pressure or diabetes. However, the amount of weight loss that you have achieved usually leaves an excess of skin from the neck to the knees. This skin excess not only causes personal embarrassment but sometimes problems with cleansing and hygiene. Unfortunately if you cannot come to terms with this aspect of your weight loss only surgery can improve the appearance. There are several procedures described in this subsection of the site which can be utilised in dealing with skin excess following massive weight loss either through dieting and exercise or through bariatric surgery (Gastric banding, gastric bypass), Bodylifting is just one of these procedures but the one which often produces the most drastic improvement. Alternatively, a bodylift may be the most appropriate procedure to perform even in the absence of significant weight loss.

Before surgery

Significant weight loss whether through gastric surgery or through diet and exercise will have produced significant changes in your metabolic and nutritional state and It is vital that your body and metabolism are in a steady state before undertaking contouring surgery which is major surgery and the wound healing required will place significant demands on your body. There is no hard and fast rule about how long should have elapsed before body contouring surgery can take place but I would expect your weight to have been steady for a minimum of six months before proceeding. Blood tests and a dietician assessment will usually be required beforehand and nutritional supplements will also be commenced for 6 weeks before and after surgery. If you are on the contraceptive pill an assessment of the risks between continuing this or stopping it prior to surgery will be made between yourself, surgeon and anaesthetist.

The surgery

There are several different procedures which can be performed and this will be assessed on an individual basis during the consultation process. However, surgery normally takes several hours and usually involves at least one change of patient position on the operating table. The surgery involves removal of excess skin from around your abdomen, waist, flanks and back and you will usually have a wound and subsequent scar which completely encircles your body about waist level. Drains will be placed before wound closure. Light dressings with a compression garment will be placed at the end of surgery.

Post operative follow-up and aftercare

Recovery from body contouring surgery such as a bodylift procedure takes longer than most patients expect and after significant surgery 3 nights stay in hospital should be expected. Because there is often significant tissue fluid drainage from the wounds it is often necessary to go home with the drains remaining, to return to clinic 2 or 3 days later to check the wounds and drainage. It usually takes between 5 -7 days before reasonable mobility returns and you will be seen in clinic 1 week following surgery when drains may also be removed. It is not unusual after this type of surgery to have recurrent episodes of fluid collection beneath the skin which may require drainage in clinic. Skin edge problems such as redness which is normal and extrusion of deep sutures can start to become apparent 3-4 weeks after surgery.

Possible complications

These are similar in general to those mentioned for other types of body contouring procedures but are more commonly encountered in major body contouring procedures such as bodylifting following massive weight loss and can persist for somewhat longer. Seroma formation, wound discharge, wound infection and skin edge necrosis are all more common in surgery after major weight loss and this probably has to do with both the extent of surgery and the post weight loss nutritional state. However, despite the sometimes prolonged nature of wound healing, these are frequently described by patients as having been extremely worthwhile.

Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery


3-6 hours variable

2-3 nights



3-7 days

Shower after 2 days

4-6 weeks

8-12 weeks

8 weeks

8-12 weeks

3-6 weeks