Upper and Lower Back Lift

When a patient has lost a great amount of weight, whether due to bariatric surgery or successful weight loss, they can be discouraged because their skin didn’t seem to get the memo. Their skin is loose, sagging, and it won’t shrink down over the person’s new slimmer contours.

A back lift with Dr. Eric Schaffer is the answer. Dr. Schaffer uses his board-certified surgical skills, training, and expertise when performing upper and lower back lifts to address this loose, sagging skin. These procedures finish the job, making the patient feel more confident and excited about their new body moving forward.

What is a Back Lift?

A back lift is a surgical procedure whose goal is to remove excess skin and underlying fat and match the patient’s skin and support tissues to a slimmer overall aesthetic. Back lifts are typically necessary when a patient has lost a great deal of weight, but their skin has stretched to a degree that it cannot tighten down.

What is an Upper Lift?

An upper back lift targets folds of loose skin and fatty areas on the mid to upper back. These areas aren’t defined: they can vary with the patient, sometimes wrapping onto the sides or even the upper abdomen. Dr. Schaffer often combines upper back lifts with breast lifts or upper abdominoplasty procedures.
Another option is for Dr. Schaffer to extend the incisions made with an arm lift to allow him to also remove sagging tissue from the side of the chest. This also tightens the skin across the upper back.

What is a Lower Back Lift?

A lower back lift is often performed as an extended tummy tuck. Here, Dr. Schaffer extends the tummy tuck incision, which usually runs from hipbone to hipbone, to wrap around the outer flanks. This is also known as an outer thigh lift or buttock lift. In some cases, he may take the incision around the entire circumference, so he can remove an entire ring of loose, sagging skin.

What are the benefits of a back lift?

When a person has lost a large amount of weight through bariatric surgery or truly disciplined weight loss it can be quite deflating to see what’s left. It’s as if your skin is the wrong size, sagging, hanging, and looking horrible. It makes you wonder if losing the weight was even worth it. A back lift with Dr. Schaffer finishes the job. With these surgeries, Dr. Schaffer is able to remove loose, sagging skin. He’s able to tighten underlying support muscles where needed. And he can remove pockets of stubborn fat that lingered despite the weight loss.

The effect of these procedures is to match the patient’s skin to their new slim contour. This can feel like the last piece of the puzzle, and it can be an awesome confidence booster for patients. No longer are back lift patients reticent about exposing their body. That wasn’t the case when loose, hanging skin was there for all to see. Weight loss surgery coupled with a back lift can change everything for a patient. Suddenly it’s fun to buy new clothes in those crazy new small sizes. Suddenly it’s fun to put on a swimsuit and hit the pool. Life feels much different, full of new possibilities, and that’s an awesome thing!

Who is a candidate for Back Lift Surgery?

If you’ve experienced massive weight loss through natural means or bariatric surgery, you’re likely left with loose sagging skin. This can also be the case following a pregnancy that involved a large weight gain.

If you’re discouraged by this loose skin around your arms, chest, and waist, a back lift is a great option. If you have “back rolls”, rolls of fat around the edges of your lower back, a back lift can get rid of those. To be a candidate for these surgeries with Dr. Schaffer, your new lower weight has to have been stable for at least six months. You should not need or desire to lose any more weight (that will only create more looseness). The six-month timeframe allows your skin to shrink as much as possible. Plus, it ensures that your weight and nutrition are stable and enduring.

 Candidates need to be in overall good health. Patients with heart disease and diabetes are not likely to be good candidates, as there is just too much risk involved with the surgery, anesthesia, and recovery.

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How is a Back Lift performed?

For the upper back lift, Dr. Schaffer will first mark the potential incision points. These will typically stretch from the bottom of the right breast all the way around the back to the bottom of the left breast. The goal is to position the incision in such a way that it can be hidden by most bras or swimsuit tops. He will then make the actual incision, removing excess skin. He stretches the skin to eliminate wrinkles and folds and then reattaches it along the incision line. If the patient also has some pockets of remaining fat, he will use liposuction to remove these. 

For the lower back lift, Dr. Schaffer will typically take the incision from abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) and simply extend it around the flanks and possibly around the entire circumference. He will then remove excess skin and pull the remaining skin up and anchor it with deep sutures. He may include a second incision along the inner groin where the thigh meets the pubic area if specific tightening of the inner thighs is necessary. As with upper back lift, liposuction could be included if necessary.

Can I combine a Back Lift with another procedure such as a Brazilian Butt Lift?

When considering the possibility of combining surgeries, you do need to consider the extent of this surgery and your recovery. Recovery after back lift surgery is not a simple proposition. Still, patients often opt to include a Brazilian Butt Lift with their back lift procedure. This allows Dr. Schaffer to take pockets of unwanted fat, remove the fat with liposuction, purify the fat, and then inject it back into the buttocks (particularly the upper buttocks) to add volume and shape.

As for other cosmetic procedures, lower back lifts invariably also include a tummy tuck, as patients don’t only have sagging on their back. Breast lifts with or without augmentation are also a common part of upper body lifts.

If you’d like to combine procedures, this is something to discuss with Dr. Schaffer during your consultation.

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Will a Back Lift procedure be performed before or after Bariatric Surgery?

These procedures must be done after the patient has had bariatric surgery or otherwise lost a great deal of weight. As mentioned above, the patient’s weight needs to be stable for at least six months. There can’t be any additional weight that the patient wants to lose.

Buttock /Back Lift – Before & After


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What is recovery like after a Back Lift?

A back lift is a major surgical procedure, maybe two if both upper and lower areas are addressed. Patients typically will spend one to three nights in the hospital following surgery. Drains are placed beneath the skin to remove excess blood and serum and usually remain in place for one to two weeks. A compression garment will need to be worn to provide support, reduce swelling, and help the body adjust to its new slimmer contour. Any lifting and strenuous activity will need to be avoided for about four to six weeks. Full results can take up to one year to show themselves, as the body continues to adapt.

When planning for your recovery, you’ll need to plan to be fully immobile for the first few days. You won’t be able to lift anything more than a bag of sugar. Climbing stairs will be out of the question for a couple weeks at least. It’s best to create a recovery nest somewhere downstairs if you have a two-story home. You’ll need help around the house for at least two weeks.

We’ll discuss all of this in detail, but these are involved recoveries and you need to expect that. The good news? It’s only a single recovery for multiple surgeries, and you’ll love the end result when you are fully recovered.


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Getting a Back Lift is a big decision and it is important to become fully informed. Dr. Eric Schaffer, a San Antonio breast specialist, will answer any questions that you may have about the procedure. To learn more contact us at 210-227-3223 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Eric Schaffer at his practice in San Antonio, TX.

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