You have worked very hard to get rid of all the excess weight. Unfortunately, your skin becomes loose especially when you lose weight. Luckily, there is a way to reduce excess skin and achieve a newly contoured body with body lift surgery. It is a life-changing surgery and involves an extensive recovery period. It is important to be aware of the ins and outs of the recovery phase so you can take care of yourself properly.
Dr Carmen Munteanu is a Specialist Plastic Surgeon, post weight loss surgery and body lift expert in Melbourne, Australia. Here are her best tips and advice for recovery after bodylift surgery.
Download Dr Carmen’s Guide to Excess Skin Reduction Surgery
Dr Carmen’s SIX Recovery Best Practices
Post-surgery is always a time for investing in your own healing, this will give you faster more effective result –less swelling or pain, better movement, and more effective scar reduction.
- Swelling is very normal; this will cause difficulty with muscle movements and general stiffness when walking
- Daily showering is OK during the hospital stay once the drain tubes have been removed. Showers should always be brief and warm (but not hot).
- Scar minimisation tapes encouraged for 2 – 4 months then change to silicone cream or tape.
- Driving is discouraged for up to 3 weeks post-surgery. Often due to several factors – pain or stiffness, use of strong painkillers, lack of concentration and strength.
- Gentle short walks can commence 7 days post op, as tolerated. Distance should be no longer that 15 minutes unless advised by the clinic. Walks can be daily or even twice daily, again as tolerated, this will also depend on how sore or swollen you feel.
- Wear your Support Garments – Dr Carmen firmly believes in fitted shapewear post-surgery and is insistent that it is worn for the first 6 months post op, both night and day. If you want a better result – wear your garments.
Recovery Timeline of Body Lift Surgery
Here is an in-depth guide to body lift surgery timeline:
Weeks 1 to 2 Post Body Lift Surgery
The first week is the most crucial phase of your entire recovery period. Aim at resting as much as possible during the first week. With that being said, it is also important to move around the house for about ten to fifteen minutes to prevent blood clotting. Start slow and by the end of week two, you will be able to manage gentle fifteen minute walks.
It is common to experience extreme swelling and bruising for the initial two weeks. Don’t worry as it will reduce by the end of the second week. You can use a cold compress to minimize swelling. You must wear a compression garment at all times during the first month. It greatly helps with swelling.
In certain cases, the surgeon will use surgical drains to get rid of excess fluid. Dr Carmen usually has the drains removed before you l;eave hospital but you might be asked to come in for a follow-up appointment to remove the drainage tubes if required.
Weeks 3 to 4 Post Body Lift Surgery
By this time, your swelling and bruising will subside significantly and you will slowly start to see the results of your surgery. You can reduce the time you are wearing a compression garment for.
Continue with daily walking. You can return to your work by the fourth week if it is not physically intensive. If you work a desk job, stand up and walk around your office for a five-minutes.
Week Five to Six Post Body Lift Surgery
You will be ecstatic during this time because you will slowly start to see the results of your surgery. Your swelling will be gone and incisions will be healed fully. At this point, your surgeon will get you started on the scar removal options such as silicone sheets and topical treatments. By the end of week six, you can start with your exercise routine. Avoid lifting extremely heavy weights without having a prior discussion with your surgeon.
How to Prepare for the Body Lift Surgery?
The key to a smooth body lift recovery lies in preparation. The prep starts way before the surgery and is equally important as the surgery itself. Here is a list of instructions you need to follow before getting the surgery done:
- Quit smoking six weeks before the surgery to promote faster healing.
- Do not take blood-thinning medications a few weeks before the surgery as they can risk bleeding and bruising during and post-surgery.
- Make sure you are keeping yourself hydrated. Aim at drinking two to three litres of water a day.
- Your surgeon might ask you to lose a bit more weight or make lifestyle alterations to give you the best possible outcome. If that is the case, follow your surgeon’s instructions religiously
- Arrange for someone to drive you home post-surgery. You will not be allowed to drive for a week or two after body lift.
- You will need someone to help you around the house for the first week after the body lift procedure. Arrange in advance.
- Prep your home; buy the groceries in advance, prepare your recovery room, keep all the important things nearby.
- Meal prep is the key. Prepare healthy, nutritious and low sodium meals ahead of time and freeze them.
- Take out a few sets of comfortable clothing items. If you don’t own enough comfy clothes, you might want to shop.
- Prepare your hospital bag in advance so that you don’t miss anything. Make sure to include comfortable clothes, slippers, chargers, toiletries, snacks, post-surgery garment, a water bottle and a night suit.
- Get all the lab tests required by your surgeon in advance. Keep an extra copy at hand.
- Ask your surgeon about the emergency contact numbers and resources in case of an emergency post-surgery. Give them to a family member, a friend, paste them around your house.
Best Tips for Aftercare and Recovery after Body Lift Surgery
Now that you are fully aware of how the recovery timeline will look like and things you need to do in advance, it’s time to look at a few post body lift instructions.
As soon as the anaesthesia wears off, you will immediately start to experience pain. Pain can be controlled easily with the help of pain killers prescribed by your surgeon. However, you might feel nauseous for a couple of days. Take the meds regularly and drink ginger lemon tea to feel better.
Sleep on your back with your head and feet in an elevated position. Simply stack a pillow or two underneath your legs and head. Pay special attention while getting out of bed. Do not role over. Firstly sit up with the help of your elbows and heels and then get out of the bed. Taking these two points into consideration will ensure that you don’t put excessive strain on your incisions.
Your swelling will get worse before it will get better. You must wear a compression garment at all times for as long as possible. The garment will help reducing the swelling. Dr Carmen insists that you wear your support garments day and night for up to six months after surgery for best body lift results.
You can also use a cold compress to reduce swelling. Be careful not to ice burn your skin.
Aim at sleeping 8 hours a night with several naps throughout the day. After the first two to three days, do a little bit of walking around the house. However, do not exhaust yourself. You must take three to four weeks off from work so you can fully focus on your recovery.
You are what you eat even when you are healing. So, aim at eating a healthy diet accompanied by a lot of water. You must include lean proteins, vegetables, whole grains and fruits. Include a lot of fibre to avoid constipation. Take special care to avoid excessive salt intake as it can lead to water retention and swelling.
Your surgeon will prescribe you a handful of pain killers and anti-biotics. Take these medications on time without fail if you wish to have a smooth and pain-free recovery. Anti-biotics reduces the risks of infections.
7. Follow Up Appointments
Most patients become lazy after the surgery and usually don’t go to the surgeon after the first follow up visit. Do not make this mistake as your surgeon checks your incisions/stitches, swelling to make sure you are healing at the right pace. The surgeon might alter your medications based on how well you are recovering.
It is best to avoid showering for the first three days. You can take a sponge bath instead. After that, you can opt for a quick shower. Just try to keep the temperature moderate and dry your body afterwards. You should avoid baths till your incisions are fully healed as they can risk infections. It is important to keep your body clean and dry to prevent infections.
You need to avoid all kinds of strenuous activities for four to six weeks after the surgery. With that being said, you must aim at walking lightly around the house for a couple of minutes every day to avoid blood clotting. Do not lift heavy weights for four to six weeks.
10. Other Things to Avoid
- Do not drive for seven to fourteen days after the surgery.
- Smoking and drinking should also be avoided for six weeks.
- Skip on baths, saunas, and swimming pools for six weeks post-surgery.
- Do not take blood-thinning medication and herbal supplements for four to six weeks after the surgery.
- Do not wear tight, uncomfortable clothes. Opt for loose, comfortable and breathable options that are easy to take on and off.
- Do not hurry to go back to work unless you feel ready. You have spent all that time, energy and money on the surgery. It’s time to be a little patient.
- Do not eat sodium-rich foods because they will worsen the swelling. Drink loads of water to flush out the toxins.
- Do not self-medicate while you are healing from the surgery. Always discuss all your problems and concerns with your surgeon before trying to take any medications on your own.
- Do not hesitate to contact your surgeon if you feel something is not working well. If you are experiencing excessive pain, swelling on one side of the body, bleeding, puss coming out of your incisions or anything unusual. Make use of the emergency contact resources your surgeon has given you.
- Do not skip on a compression garment. It is necessary for reducing your swelling.
Bodylift Recovery FAQs – Questions & Answers
Here is a list of frequently asked questions we get regarding a body lift surgery.
How long does it take to recover from a full-body lift?
- It will take you about six to eight weeks to recover from a full-body lift.
How painful is a body lift?
- You will not experience any pain during the surgery because it will be performed under general anaesthesia. You will experience mild to moderate pain during the first few days of recovery. Don’t worry as your surgeon will prescribe you pain killers to counter pain.
What can I expect after a lower body lift?
- You will need to take a certain time off from work. You might have to restrict your physical activities for a period of six to eight weeks. The swelling will be more pronounced during the first few days of recovery and will gradually lessen over time.
What do you wear after a body lift?
- Wear a compression garment for six weeks after the surgery. On top of that, wear loose comfortable clothing that is easy to take on and off.
When can I drive after a lower body lift?
- Do not drive for at least two weeks after the surgery or till your surgeon gives you a go.
How do you sleep after a lower body lift?
- You must sleep on your back and keep your head and legs alleviated. You can stack one to two pillows for alleviating your head and legs.
How do you prepare for a lower body lift?
- Here is how you can prepare for a lower body lift:
- Get all the lab tests done required by your body lift surgeon.
- You might need to alter your current medications.
- Quit smoking and drinking, a few weeks before the surgery.
- Do not take any blood-thinning medications for two weeks before the surgery.
- Aim at eating a healthy diet and drink loads of water.
How long does swelling last after a lower lift?
- It is important to remember that swelling will get worse before it gets better. However, most of the swelling will subside by the two-week marker.
How do you get out of bed after a body lift?
- Use your elbows to raise your upper body along with your legs to get your body in a sitting position. Once you are sitting, drag yourself to the edge of the bed and get out of bed.
Further Reading about Body Procedures with Dr Carmen
- Read Dr Carmen’s Blog about Compression Garments after Body Lift
- Read Dr Carmen’s Blog about How Can I Reduce Swelling and Bruising After Body Lift Surgery
- Read Dr Carmen’s Blog about How to Reduce Scars after Body Lift Surgery