Upper Body Lift Sydney

An Upper Body Lift or Bra Lipectomy is an operation performed to address excess skin rolls and associated fat, in the upper and middle part of the back around the bra strap area.

These areas of excess skin can be mild to severe for individuals that have undergone significant weight loss. A Bra Lipectomy scar pattern varies depending on the severity of the excess skin. However, the scar pattern typically extends from the back, through to the front of the chest wall, under the bust area.  This scar pattern is near circumferential or fully circumferential.

For individuals that have lost a significant amount of weight, the primary concern is often the excess skin left behind, which carries permanent functional and aesthetic concerns. Therefore, a Bra Lipectomy essentially tailors this area by removing the excess skin, creating far more functional and aesthetic form.

A Bra Lipectomy would typically involve a scar at the level of a bra strap that is circumferential, or near circumferential.

Within the field of Plastic Surgery, the term ‘Bra Lipectomy’ can be interchangeable with many other surgical terms. Furthermore, other surgical procedures exist that are similar to a Bra Lipectomy with slight variations in the scar pattern. It is important to identify the descriptive surgical terms and their associated technical differences. Some of the other commonly used terms for the Bra Lipectomy, and other operations that are similar to a bra lipectomy include:

  • BRA LINE BACK LIFT – this name reflects the surgery, and therefore the scar pattern, which is isolated to the back region, with no scar extending to the front of the chest.
  • UPPER BACK LIFT – this is very similar to the Bra Line Back Lift procedure.
  • UPPER BODY LIFT – this would involve a circumferential scar, similar to a Bra Lipectomy. Indeed, an Upper Body Lift procedure would simply be another way of describing a Bra Lipectomy. Therefore, as per a Bra Lipectomy, this surgery would address problems involving the back, sides of the chest wall and upper abdominal region.
  • UPPER TRUNCOPLASTY – this procedure is identical to an upper Body Lift but a more formal term, albeit more difficult for the non-medical person to understand.
  • REVERSE TUMMY TUCK (Abdominoplasty) – the scar pattern is isolated to the upper abdominal wall and lower chest region and lifts the abdominal wall skin. The scar does not extend to the back and is essentially the front half of an upper body lift.


In the following video Dr Dona explains the basic reconstructive surgical principles of a Bra Lipectomy. This video was taken immediately prior to surgery after Dr Dona had made his tentative surgical markings. These markings serve as a guide for how much skin (and associated fatty tissue) Dr Dona intends on removing.

After images are generally shown between 3-6 months post-surgery.

All these patients shown had a Bra Lipectomy combined with an OPEN BOOK TUMMY TUCK™ (Abdominoplasty)

The outcomes shown are only relevant for these patients and are not a guarantee that you will have similar results, even if you have a similar body type or shape. Results may vary due to many factors including an individual’s genetics and lifestyle.

The Surgery

Upper Body Lift Surgical Procedure

After massive weight loss, all parts of the body are affected by excess skin, with some areas more problematic than others. It is uncommon for excess skin to be isolated to a single region of the body. Therefore, the reconstructive decision process must be tailored to address everyone’s specific concerns. As such, the surgery (and its associated scars), are dictated by the issues that need addressing. The areas of concern that need to be assessed when determining the precise surgical pattern include:

  • The back: upper, mid and lower.
  • Sides of the chest wall and underarm region.
  • Upper abdominal wall and lower chest region.

Assessing these areas will establish the optimal surgical plan (and associated scars), to achieve a positive functional and aesthetic outcome. The potential scar patterns include:

  • A scar pattern that will run along the bra line, in the upper back region.
  • A scar pattern that extends from the back to the sides of the chest.
  • A scar pattern that extends from back to the upper abdominal wall along the lower breast fold – a near circumferential or a fully circumferential scar pattern.

The above Bra Lipectomy variations will be discussed with Dr Dona and a surgical plan will be created to address your unique circumstances.



A Bra Lipectomy procedure, along with any other post-weight loss procedure, require an individualised surgical plan. Individuals that have experienced massive weight loss, will experience excess skin and tissue, in varying degrees and areas of the body, with the most common areas of concern being the arms, breast, back, tummy and thighs – therefore it is not uncommon for these patients to request and require surgery in these areas.

Some operations that are often combined with a Bra Lipectomy include various extended Tummy Tucks (Abdominoplasty), including Fleur-De-Lis Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty) or Dr Dona’s OPEN BOOK TUMMY TUCK™ (Abdominoplasty).

A Bra Lipectomy can also be combined with Breast Reductions and Arm Reductions (Brachioplasty).

Ultimately the patient’s general health, logistics and finances are all considered in determining what is the appropriate surgical pathway to take to address all areas of concern. Typically, more than one operation is required in a staged manner to ensure a safe and effective pathway to address all areas of concern.


Where is a Bra Lipectomy performed?

A Bra Lipectomy is performed in a Private Hospital, under General Anaesthetic.

Can I walk around when I get home after surgery?

When you return home, you will be encouraged to be up and as mobile as possible. However, you always want to listen to your body and mobilise within a range that is comfortable for you.

How much swelling can I expect after surgery?

You are placed in a garment immediately after surgery, that will help to manage your swelling. You will need to wear your garment for at least six weeks. You can expect to see a significant reduction in the initial swelling within the first two weeks following your surgery. In addition, it is not uncommon to see a slight difference in the swelling from one side to the other.

When can I go for a swim after surgery?

We will advise you to refrain from bathing or swimming until at least three weeks following your surgery.

How do I sleep after surgery?

There is no set sleeping position that is advised following your surgery – you can sleep in any position(s) that you are most comfortable in. However, you may find that sleeping on your back to be the most comfortable for the first few weeks.

What happens at my first clinic appointment?

Leave your dressings intact until your first post-operative appointment. Generally speaking, your first appointment will be scheduled no later than the day following your hospital discharge. Within your first post-operative appointment, one of our friendly and caring post-operative nurses will inspect your wounds and administer light therapy treatment, aimed at optimizing your recovery. Our post-operative nurses will continue to see you, at least three times per week for the following few weeks, and of course, will be available to answer any questions in-between your in-clinic appointments.

Going to the toilet after a Bra Lipectomy (Bloating and Constipation)

It is very common after surgery to experience bloating and constipation. This is because you have just had surgery and therefore you will be less mobile. In addition, you will be administered strong pain medication which causes slowing of the bowels. You will be encouraged to consume plenty of fluids, maintain a high-fiber diet, along with some gentle laxatives (such as Movicol), to help restore your normal bowel habits.

You will be given Movicol whilst in hospital and are encouraged to continue with the above measures at home until your normal bowel habits return.

Reducing the risk of blood clots (DVT’s) 

Every hospital patient, especially surgical patients, will be at increased risk of developing DVT’s in their legs. Therefore, we undertake a number of measures to reduce this risk which include:

    • A special massage device that will be fitted on both legs to help promote blood flow and minimise the chance of any clots developing in your leg veins.
    • Whilst you are in hospital you will be encouraged to do simple foot exercise such as tapping your feet or wriggling your toes. This is designed to activate your calf muscles and encourage blood flow and is another vital measure to help reduce the risk of blood clots.
    • In addition to this, you will be given an injection, once per day, of a blood thinner called Clexane. Clexane will also help minimise DVT’s from forming.
    • You may be required to give yourself an injection of Clexane once per day, for the first three weeks after you leave the Private Hospital – this will further reduce the risk of DVT’s.
    • Mobilising regularly and remaining well hydrated state at all times is also recommended.

When can I start driving again after a Bra Lipectomy?

You should not consider driving for the first two weeks after surgery. After this time, you should only drive if you feel safe doing so.

When can I go back to work?

You will be able to return to a light office or a desk role at approximately two weeks post-surgery. Light hospitality work may be possible at four weeks post-surgery. Any employment that involves heavy lifting or straining must be avoided for six weeks.

When can I return to doing my normal activities and training after a Bra Lipectomy?

At six weeks post-surgery, you can gradually return to normal training and physical activities. Consider the first six weeks after surgery as RECOVERY, and after six weeks, consider all activities as REHABILITATION. Undertake any physical activities that you wish to do and be guided by your comfort and strength, which will slowly improve.

When can I start having sex after a Bra Lipectomy?

You can return to sexual activity at any stage with the following understanding:

  • You should avoid any activities that increase your heart rate and blood pressure during the first couple of weeks, as this can increase the risk of swelling or bleeding problems.
  • Your wounds or adjacent surgical area should not be firmly handled or vigorously manipulated for the first six weeks.
  • If you engage in sexual activity during the first six weeks, you need to take on a very passive role.
  • Remember that you should not undertake any physical activities where you need to strain, exert, or even stretch your upper body muscles for the first six weeks.

When can I expect to see my final surgical results after a Bra Lipectomy?

It will take at least six months before you are feeling “normal” and able to do all the things you could before surgery. It will be at this stage that we assess your final surgical results. However, the scars will take at least 12-24 months before they have matured.

How many hours does a Bra Lipectomy surgery take?

A Bra Lipectomy can take anywhere from three to five hours.

How much pain can I expect after a Bra Lipectomy?

Pain is subjective which means that everyone has a different experience after surgery, from moderate to significant discomfort. You may experience localised pain at the site of your incisions, but also nerve pain (shooting pains and burning). To ensure that you are kept as comfortable as possible, you will be provided with pain medication during your stay in the Private Hospital, and when you return home. Your specialist anaesthetic doctor, along with providing your general anaesthetic for the surgery, will also look after your pain management needs.

How many days do I need to be in hospital after a bra lipectomy?

Most patients will spend at least two days in Private Hospital and will be medically fit to return home at this stage. Although, some of our patients will benefit from another day or two in hospital.

What happens during your stay in the Private Hospital?

    • You will wake up from your surgery in a hospital bed, with the head of the bed elevated.
    • Two plastic tubes or drains are usually placed adjacent to your wounds on your left and right side.
    • Whilst you are in hospital, you will also have a catheter in your bladder, so you don’t have to worry about getting up and trying to go to the toilet.
    • You will have at least one drip in place, to provide you with intravenous fluids, the required pain medication and IV antibiotics.
    • All your wounds will be covered using waterproof dressings. Your wounds are stitched using several layers of internal dissolving sutures. You may have some visible sutures – these will be removed at your one-week post-operative appointment.
    • You may experience different sensations and feelings in the arms including numbness, pins and needles, shooting pains, tightness or burning sensations – most of these will gradually resolve over the first six weeks.
    • Your nurse or physiotherapist will help you out of your bed the day following your surgery.
    • Usually, the second day post-op, your drains, drips, and catheter will be removed.
    • After everything has been removed, you will be able to have a shower with assistance.
    • When you leave the hospital, you will be given pain medications and antibiotics – please take them as prescribed.

Will I need help at home after surgery?

It is recommended that you have someone with you at home for at least the first week for general day-to-day care.

Potential Complications


More information on general potential complications can be found on our site. LEARN MORE 

Whenever someone is having an anaesthetic, no matter what it’s for, then things can potentially go wrong. That is why no surgery should be considered “minor”. Of course, whilst the chances of the following potential problems occurring are extremely small, you still need to know about then:

  • Anaesthetic issues – Which can affect heart, lungs or cause a stroke(s).
  • Allergic reactions – This can be very mild to life threatening.
  • Clots
    • Superficial vein clots, which is a complication of the cannula or drip that’s placed in your vein.
    • Deep vein clots – these can potentially spread to the lung and be life threatening. We do several things during surgery and after surgery whilst you’re in hospital to minimise the risk of you developing these.
  • Wound problems – Such as infection and breakdown.
  • Bleeding – Early or late onset.
  • Death – Whilst the chances of this is exceeding rare, any of the previous issues can result in this devastating complication.

All these potential problems are standard for any operation, although some operations and some patients have an increased risk of developing them.

Other specific potential complications may include:

  • Asymmetry– Differences between the right and left sides or unevenness of the skin.
  • Swelling– Swelling after Bra Lipectomy surgery is normal. However, in some cases, the swelling may take several months to resolve.
  • Loss of Sensation– You may experience a loss of sensation around the scars and whilst some of this may return, often at times, it will be permanent.
  • Scars – May appear to be worse during the first six months of healing. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for bra lipectomy scars to become quite thick and dark – hypertrophic or even keloid scar formation.
  • Circulation– Circulation may be poor in some areas of the skin around the surgical area. This may lead to a loss of skin and a wound that needs to be dressed until healed. These wounds may require further surgery until fully healed.
  • Seromas– A seroma is where fluid builds up under the wound. If this occurs, it may need to be drained with a needle.
  • Further surgery – Fine Tuning – It’s not uncommon for any large body contouring surgery patient to require further surgery to “fine tune” the results.

A simple analogy to help explain why patients may require more than one operation is dressmaking. With dressmaking, once its “done” you often need to have a second fitting for some minor adjustments to make it fit just right.

Bra lipectomy surgery is of course many times more complex than dressmaking. The skin and tissues are not static and rigid objects. They swell, they stretch, they shrink, they sag etc. In addition to this, the underlying body is also changing.

So as a surgeon Dr Dona is reconstructing everything that’s 3D and not static, whilst at the same time making sure that he doesn’t push things too far and make it too tight and increase the risk of wounds not healing and breaking down – complications!

With all this in mind, after everything settles and swelling starts to settle and things “relax” into position, it’s normal for things to be nowhere near as tight as they initially were. Therefore, it’s not uncommon for patients to require further surgery to “fine tune” the results, just like you would for a second fitting of a tailor-made dress. This is especially the case in quite large reconstructions.

So, you should not undertake any surgery, especially these larger surgeries, if you’re not prepared or willing to have further surgery, and the potential time off and costs involved.

Find out more


Learn more about our procedures or schedule a one-on-one consultation at our Sydney clinic

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