Lipectomy (Body Lift) | Frequently Asked Questions | MedStar Health

Improving overall shape and tone of your body

For people who have excess skin and fat, particularly after losing a significant amount of weight, a body lift (or lipectomy) can dramatically improve the shape and tone of underlying tissue, creating new contours around the abdomen, buttocks, and thighs.

One common technique is to use incisions similar to the shape of a bikini bottom. Excess fat and skin are removed, and tissues are repositioned and tightened. Your doctor will help you understand your options and recommend the technique to achieve the best cosmetic result for you.

Planning and recovery

What to expect

You and your surgeon will discuss your procedure in detail so you understand how it will be performed. During your consultation, you will have the opportunity to ask any questions you may have about your surgery.

On the day of the procedure, you’ll receive anesthesia through an IV. Incisions may vary depending on the amount and location of skin to be removed. Often, the abdomen, groin, waist, thighs, and buttocks are treated in one procedure, using incisions similar to the shape of a bikini bottom. An apron of skin and fat are removed, and liposuction may be used to enhance the result. After tissues are tightened and sutured, the skin is sutured together and the incisions are closed.

Recovery after body lift surgery

A body lift requires significant recovery time. Immediately following the procedure, you’ll be wrapped in an elastic bandage or support garment to help minimize swelling and support treated areas during the healing process. Small tubes may be placed under the skin temporarily to help drain excess blood or fluid.

While some people are able to return home on the same day after surgery with nursing care, others may need a night or two in the hospital or time in an aftercare facility. Your doctor will give you instructions about diet, pain medications, and how to reduce the risk of infection and complications.

Activities will be restricted during the postoperative period. Although walking is recommended, other exercise and significant lifting or straining should be avoided for six to eight weeks. Most people need two to three weeks away from work or daily obligations. Swelling mostly resolves in about six weeks, but can last up to three months or longer.

Our locations

Distance from Change locationEnter your location

MedStar Health: Plastic Surgery at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital

3800 Reservoir Road NW,
BLES Building
1st. Floor
Washington, D.C., 20007


MedStar Health: Plastic Surgery at MedStar Washington Hospital Center

106 Irving St. NW
POB North
Ste. 3400
Washington, D.C., 20010

MedStar Health: Plastic Surgery at McLean

6862 Elm Street
Suite 800
McLean, VA 22101


MedStar Montgomery Medical Center

18101 Prince Philip Dr.
Olney, MD 20832

MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center

7503 Surratts Rd.
Clinton, MD 20735

Frequently asked questions

  • Am I a candidate for a tummy tuck?

    • You may be a good candidate if:

      • You’re physically healthy

      • Your expectations are realistic

      • You understand the risks that come along with surgery

      • You have soft tissue looseness in one or multiple body areas

    Body lifts aren’t intended for the removal of fat alone. Liposuction can remove excess fat deposits if you have good skin elasticity.

  • How much does a body lift cost?

    • The costs for the procedure will vary based on your specific needs and goals. Most insurance plans don’t cover body lifts, although partial coverage may be available when excess skin causes recurrent problems.

    When you come in for your consultation visit, we’ll be better able to discuss fees in detail with you. Our staff will also review the financing options available and help with insurance approval paperwork.

  • Is a body lift covered by insurance?

    • In most cases, body lift surgery isn’t covered by insurance. However, some carriers offer partial coverage for just the removal of excess abdominal skin and fat (called a panniculectomy) when it causes recurrent skin problems or other issues. It’s always best to discuss coverage questions with your insurance carrier.
  • Do I need a referral to your office?

    • If you’re exploring options for insurance coverage, you may need to request a referral from your primary care doctor, depending on your health insurance plan. Check with your carrier to see if medical coverage is an option for you and, if so, whether a referral is required.
  • What are the risks of body lift surgery?

    • As with any surgery, body lifts do pose some risks. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, risks include:

        • Anesthesia complications

        • Bleeding

        • Fat tissue death (necrosis)

        • Fluid accumulation (seroma)

        • Imperfect or asymmetrical results

        • Infection

        • Numbness or changes in skin sensation

        • Persistent pain or swelling

        • Poor wound healing

        • Poor scarring

        • Possibility of revision surgery

        • Skin loss, discoloration, or looseness

        • Sutures that surface through the skin

  • How should I prepare for surgery?

    • Before surgery, you may be asked to get blood tests and take or adjust medications. If you smoke, quitting will help you heal faster and better avoid complications.

    You’ll also need to arrange for transportation to and from the surgery and for someone to stay with you the night after the surgery.

    For more information visit Patient Resources or Preparing for Surgery.