Back lifts – an important procedure for weight loss patients

Post-bariatric body contouring is an area of special interest for me. Through my interactions with weight loss patients in the office, and on, I sense that the treatment of loose skin in the mid back area is not understood all that well.  I do have a page on the site dedicated to this topic, but I will expand on that with this blog post, and hopefully answer any lingering questions.
Weight loss often results in the development of loose excess skin that accumulates in to folds and rolls that disrupt a person’s normal body shape. It’s common to have skin laxity in the lateral chest and mid back area.  This can result in one or more transversely oriented folds that extend from the breast around to the back. In more severe cases, this redundant skin can extend inferiorly where it also effects the contour of the waist, lower back and hips. Patients often complain that their bra doesn’t fit well.
The removal of excess skin from these areas requires a Back Lift (also referred to as an ‘upper body lift’). In a woman, the intended scar position mirrors the position of the bra strap. In a man, the incision parallels the textural lines in the skin. Excess skin is removed in a vertical direction. This will tighten the back and the lateral chest. In addition, there may be improvement in the contour of the hips and lumbar area as well. A back lift can be done as a stand alone procedure, but it is more commonly combined with a breast reduction, breast lift or correction of gynecomastia. A Lower body lift does not include a back lift. However, these 2 operations are often complimentary and they can be performed in any order.
In my own practice, the back lift procedure is less common than abdominal contouring procedures, about as common as arm lifts and more common than thigh lifts. Following a back lift, the level of discomfort is similar to that of a breast lift and less than an abdominoplasty. If drains are required, they are usually removed within a few days. A post-operative bra or compression garment is beneficial for about 3-4 weeks.
In summary, a back lift is a relatively less known body contouring procedure that can be very impactful for a large subset of weight loss patients.