Is a Body Lift After Weight Loss Covered by Insurance? Plus 5 Other Questions You Have About Post-Weight Loss Plastic Surgery

Losing a significant amount of weight is a huge feat that deserves to be celebrated—congratulations on all of your hard work! While we’re sure you’re enjoying your success, it’s normal to feel a bit defeated if excess skin is keeping you from feeling confident at your new weight.

It’s common to experience areas of heavy, drooping skin after massive weight loss, which can make you feel both physically and emotionally uncomfortable. Many choose to have body lift surgery, also called post-weight loss plastic surgery, at La Jolla Cosmetic in San Diego to restore a more normal contour to the body while reducing discomfort.

If you’ve been considering a body lift, read on for answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we receive here at LJC.

Though heavy, excess skin left behind after weight loss can be considered a medical condition due to discomfort and increased risk for skin conditions, most insurance providers do not cover body lift surgery.

1. How much does body lift surgery cost in San Diego?

A body lift in San Diego typically costs between $20,000 to $25,000. It’s important to understand that the final cost of your post-weight loss surgery can vary greatly depending on how much skin needs to be removed, what areas are being lifted, and how many procedures you need.

Procedure Fee Range
Body Lift $20,000–$25,000

There are a few different types of lifting procedures that weight loss patients typically benefit from, depending on where they have sagging skin. The cost of an arm lift typically ranges between $13,500 to $16,000 and the thigh lift is typically $14,500 to $24,000. The breast lift cost at our San Diego practice ranges from $10,500 to $12,500.

The best way to get a more specific understanding of how much your post-weight loss skin lifting procedures will cost is to schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our board-certified plastic surgeons. After they’ve listened to your concerns and you’ve worked out a plan together, we’ll prepare a detailed fee quote.

2. Is a body lift after weight loss covered by insurance?

Though heavy, excess skin left behind after weight loss can be considered a medical condition due to discomfort and increased risk for skin conditions, most insurance providers do not cover body lift surgery.

That being said, some insurance carriers do offer partial coverage of body lift expenses if you meet certain criteria. Below are examples of criteria cited by insurance companies:

  • You lost at least 100 pounds.
  • You have held a stable weight for at least six months.
  • You had bariatric surgery, and it was performed at least one year ago.
  • You have documented skin disorders resulting directly from excess skin.
  • Your primary physician has recommended a body lifting procedure.

Typically, breast reduction and panniculectomy (removal of “skin apron” on lower abdomen) are the most likely to be covered by insurance. However, these procedures may still be deemed unnecessary or may not provide all of the lifting required to achieve optimal results.

If insurance won’t help you cover the cost of your procedure, there are options for fitting procedures into your budget. There are a number of reputable, third-party plastic surgery financing companies that can help you make comfortable monthly payments.

3. How much weight do I need to lose before a body lift?

Before surgery, you should be at or near a stable, healthy body weight. If you intend to lose more weight and have your surgery too soon, it can impact your results, leaving you with more skin. Additionally, risks associated with having surgery of any kind are greatly increased if you are carrying too much excess weight.

Before and after post-weight loss surgery on the abdomen and thighs
A real LJC patient shows off their dramatic results after a body lift. See more body lift before and after photos »

4. What is recovery like after a lower body lift?

Body lift surgery can be one of the most uncomfortable procedures because of the substantial amount of skin removal and lifting required. After surgery, you’ll likely be with an aftercare nurse for a day or two for expert, round-the-clock care. The nurse can stay with you at your home, or you may choose to go to an aftercare facility that caters to post-op patients. Due to special health issues, a small fraction of patients may need to spend a few days in the hospital immediately after surgery.

Once you’re back at home, your next phase of healing will begin. You’ll have drains to make sure there is no fluid buildup around your incisions and compression garments to keep you comfortable, minimize swelling, and protect your incisions. You will need dedicated help around the house for a week or so while you rest—overexertion can strain your incisions and cause pain, so it’s important to plan the necessary downtime to recover.

Brief periods of walking will be recommended to ensure proper circulation, though much of your time will be spent lying down with your favorite book or Netflix show. You’ll be prescribed pain medication to help keep you comfortable for the first week or two. Depending on your healing progress, stitches may be removed around two weeks after surgery, though lower body lift incisions can take four weeks or longer to fully heal.

Once your drains have been removed, moving around will be easier. Expect to be out of work for about three weeks, depending on the nature of your job.

Exercise will need to be avoided for at least 8 weeks (or until you get the green light from your surgeon). You can slowly start resuming other normal activities (light housework, driving, etc.) around the 4 – 6 week mark. It’s critical that you follow your surgeon’s instructions and wait until they give you the go-ahead to begin activities.

5. How long does swelling last after a body lift?

While you’ll start to see swelling going down after a few weeks (compression garments and your drains will help), it’s normal for some swelling to last for a few months before your final results begin to take shape.

We urge you to avoid supplements or products to reduce swelling unless your surgeon has specifically recommended them.

6. What will my scars look like after body lift surgery?

To achieve dramatic lifting, body lift incisions can be quite long. That being said, the appearance of the scars will fade over the course of about a year, and, when possible, incisions are placed where they can be hidden by clothing.

Typically, our body lift surgery patients are so thrilled with their results that the light scars are a small price to pay. In fact, a study published in 2020 found that body contouring surgery after massive weight loss notably improves patients’ lives. We talk more about the health and emotional benefits of achieving your goal weight and following it up with post-weight loss surgery in our related blog post.

To help your scars heal as nicely as possible and fade over time, it’s important to follow your surgeon’s aftercare instructions to a T.

More body lift questions? We’re here to help.

If you have any questions about body lifts, want more information about surgery or recovery, or simply want to explore your options, please contact us online or call (858) 452-1981 today to schedule a free consult. Our board-certified plastic surgeons have years of experience helping patients like you feel more comfortable and confident. Our plastic surgery center and medical spa near San Diego welcomes people from Oceanside, Escondido, and throughout Southern California.