Upper Body Lift (or Upper Back Lift) Sydney North Shore

An upper body lift aims to remove the upper back excess of skin and fat traditionally referred to as the back rolls.

This procedure is suitable for men and women who have lost a large amount of weight which could be either through diet and exercise or through bariatric surgery. The loose amount of skin and fat often interferes with their daily life, and exacerbates skin rashes and other skin conditions.

This may be performed as an independent procedure or more often combined with breast procedures for women or chest reduction procedures for men. To read more about

  • breast lift click here
  • breast reduction click here
  • breast augmentation click here
  • breast augmentation-mastopexy click here

Men and women seek upper body lift surgery to

  • Wear clothes that may otherwise reveal the loose skin or excess fat they find embarrassing
  • Wear swimwear they want to wear
  • Feel confident in social situations
  • Restore shape of their upper back after going through massive weight loss
  • Remove skin and fat that cannot be addressed through other means
  • Improve skin rashes and conditions that are exacerbated by the loose skin and do not improve through other means

The best candidates for upper body lift are men and women who:

  • Have already lost the weight they want to lose
  • Have been a stable weight for at least 6 months (ideally 12 months)
  • Are physically and mentally healthy
  • Have realistic expectations, and are willing to accept the scar of an upper body lift

An upper body lift may not be suitable for those who:

  • Have not lost the weight they want to lose
  • Have significant fluctuations in their weight
  • Are very overweight or obese (BMI >35) – ideally your BMI should be less than 30 for best results, but can still be considered for those BMI 30-35
  • Have multiple medical problems
  • Are actively smoking
  • Will not accept a long scar of an upper body lift

Those who can accept the trade-off of large scars for excision of skin and fat, can achieve remarkable outcomes from body lift surgery.

Patients who lose massive amounts of weight may consider other surgeries:

  • Women may consider Breast Surgery
    • Breast Augmentation
    • Breast lift/Reduction
    • Augmentation-Mastopexy
  • Arm lift
  • Thigh lift
  • Liposuction
  • Tummy tuck and lower body lift
  • Face and neck lift.

For more information on other procedures please read the other sections of this website.

At MODE, Dr Aggarwal will guide you through the planning of surgery and help decide which procedure is best suited to achieve your goals.

Procedure Snapshot
  • Anaesthetic: GA by accredited anaesthetist
  • Time: 2-3 hours
  • Duration of stay: 2-3 nights in hospital *can be longer
  • Hospital: At any of the private hospitals where Dr Aggarwal works.
  • Medicare/Health fund rebate: Yes for those who meet the following criteria (introduced in 2016):
    • Significant loss of weight equal to or greater than 5 BMI points
    • Skin condition exacerbated by loose skin and fat
    • Skin condition not resolving with 3 months of conservative therapy
  • In addition you need to have the appropriate level of health fund cover.
  • Recovery: Most people stay in hospital for a few nights. But this partially depends on what other surgery has been performed. Heavy lifting or exercise is disallowed for 8 weeks and strenuous exercise for 3 months. For 8 weeks you will be required to wear a binder (which is like a corset) over the upper trunk for men, and a compressive surgical bra for women (especially if breast surgery has been performed). You can shower after 48 hours provided there are not more than 2 drains in place.
  • Results: Can be a life changing operation and a massive reward for patients who have done well to lose massive amounts of weight. The difference the surgery can make to the upper body can be remarkable.

Cosmetic Concerns

  • This is a good mindset to have after undergoing massive weight loss, and it these patients who will do well from body lift surgery.
  • The scar from an upper body lift extends from the sides and around to the midline at the back. This removes the skin and fat excess in a vertical dimension.
  • At the front it is common to combine this procedure with surgery to address the chest. In men this is to remove excess skin from the front of the chest and reposition the nipple. In women it can be a host of breast surgery options.
  • If you have experienced massive weight loss – firstly congratulations are in order because you have already completed what is the toughest part of your transformation.
  • It is likely that you will need a range of procedures to complete your body transformation.
  • At Mode we recommend patients consider lower body lift first, and breast surgery for women. These are the most transforming and best ‘bang for buck’ procedures.
  • Patients who have had these may then return for arm lift, thigh lift, upper back lift, and facial cosmetic surgery.
  • This is a common request.
  • Most commonly an upper back lift is combined with chest procedures – breast surgery for females and chest reduction surgery for men.
  • This is a common request in patients who have lost massive weight loss
  • However lower back rolls will not be corrected with an upper body lift
  • The procedure required to correct this is a lower body lift. This usually needs to be performed as a separate stage as an upper and lower body lift pull tissues in opposite directions.
  • We would generally recommend patients to have a lower body lift procedure first. For more information please refer to the lower body lift section of our website.

Procedure Information

The procedure is performed under general anaesthesia given by an accredited anaesthetist in a fully accredited and licensed facility (usually one of the North Shore’s premier private hospitals). The procedure takes 2-3 hours and most patients will spend 2-3 nights in hospital

  • Patients with massive weight loss can have nutritional deficiencies
  • This is especially the case in patients who have undergone bariatric surgery and have experienced rapid weight loss
  • You are most likely to be sent for preoperative blood tests and sometimes a nutritional assessment before undergoing lower body lift surgery
  • A scar has to be placed from the sides of the chest and all the way around to the midline at the back. The exact position of this scar is changed in different patients depending on the amount of loose skin and fat.

  • The operation is performed with the patient lying on their belly – The incisions re made, tissues lower down are lifted and advanced.
  • The amount of skin to be removed is then calculated, and after it is removed, the incisions are closed. The wounds are closed over drains.
  • If surgery will be performed on the chest the patient is then turned for the second stage of surgery
  • In general 2 drains are used for upper body lift surgery.
  • Whilst in hospital the drain outputs are recorded, and the drains removed once fluid drainage is minimal.
  • It is not uncommon for patients to go home with a drain and see Dr Aggarwal or his staff in rooms to have the drain removed after discharge from hospital.
  • Dr Aggarwal will place waterproof dressings over the incisions.
  • You will be able to walk normally after the procedure, however when you walk or move you will need to do so slowly and carefully feeling the tension in the upper back.
  • You will be able to get all areas wet after 48 hours.
  • Swimming in a pool or beach is usually deferred for 2-3 weeks until all incisions are healed and all the drains are out.
  • You will be given a script for antibiotics by Dr Aggarwal which you must continue until all drains are removed. You will also be given appropriate pain relief medications.
  • When you go home it is best to have someone look after you as you recover.
  • While most sedentary activities can be resumed when you go home, you must lay low and not exert yourself. You will also not be allowed to do any heavy lifting or exercises for the first 8 weeks. During this period you will also be required to wear a binder or a surgical bra.
  • Dr Aggarwal will see regularly after your discharge from hospital.

Risks & Complications

Every surgery carries risks, and therefore one must consider if risks outweigh the benefits for your own personal situation. If they do then the surgery may be well worth it. Dr Aggarwal will discuss the pros and cons of surgery with you during your consultation.

  • Risks of anaesthetic – there are general risks of going under an anaesthetic such as stress on the heart and lungs, risk of reaction to anaesthetic drugs and risk of clotting in the legs. These risks are generally higher in patients undergoing lower body lift partially due to prolonged length of surgery.
  • Bleeding (2-5%) – any bleeding is controlled during surgery however unexpected bleeding can occur in the immediate postoperative period. If this occurs it will necessitate a return to theatre to control the bleeding.
  • Infection (2-%%) – this is rare. However you are given antibiotics during induction (when you are going to sleep), as well as a course of oral antibiotics after your surgery to keep this risk to a minimum.
  • Seroma (2-5%) – An upper body lift raises a large flap of skin which must then scar to the underlying fascia and muscles. This ‘injury’ causes the body to respond with accumulation of fluid, and there is a large potential space in which it can build up. Drains are inserted during surgery to remove the excess fluid that your body does not absorb. Drains are only removed when the fluid reduces. Keeping a binder or compression bra on after surgery, as well as reducing movement is also essential to avoiding the risk of a fluid collection. If a fluid collection develops after removal of drains it may need to be removed via a needle through the skin. The fluid is removed as if it accumulates there is a risk of it getting infected
  • Poor Wound Healing, wound separation (5-15%) –Wound issues are more common in body lift surgery due to the extent of scars, but also multiple areas of tension. These are more common in patients who are malnourished or have protein or other vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Usually wound issues resolve with dressings over several weeks.
  • Skin necrosis – this is rare in upper body lift. By lifting skin and fat, its blood supply is reduced. The risk of skin necrosis is higher in patients who smoke or are diabetic.
  • Asymmetrical scars and contours– This should be regarded as the norm in body lift given that all tissues are lax and floppy. There are natural asymmetries to the body and there can be a difference in how each side of the body behaves to surgery and skin tension, and can produce an asymmetry to the scars, albeit the aim is to get them as symmetrical as possible.
  • Hypertrophic or poor scars – How one’s body behaves to scarring is individual and largely genetic. Some types of skin are more prone to hypertrophic or keloid scarring, and some individuals and families are more prone to this. We will routinely advise you on how to improve the quality of scars over time. You should also discuss any history of abnormal scarring with Dr Aggarwal preoperatively.

Procedure FAQs

  • It is best to obtain a referral for upper body lift as it is possible to claim a Medicare rebate of approximately $73 for the consultation if you have a referral.
  • You should have documented in your referral the amount of weight lost, the reduction in your BMI, and skin rashes or other skin conditions that may have been exacerbated by the loose skin and fat. This is because as of 2016 there are strict criteria used by Medicare for this surgery.
  • A referral will therefore also allow you to claim a rebate for this procedure from Medicare/health funds, as long as you are appropriately insured.
  • You can see us at our main practice at Gordon, or at our other locations at Hornsby, Hunters Hill or Camperdown.
  • Please scroll to the bottom of the page to find out more information about these locations.
  • Any of the hospitals where Dr Aggarwal works – usually at Sydney Adventist Hospital, or Hunters Hill Private hospitals.
  • Cease fish oil, and other supplements such as Ginkgo, Ginseng.
  • Take protein supplements and multivitamins well in advance of your surgery, and any other supplements to correct nutritional deficiencies that may have been picked up before surgery.
  • Stop smoking well in advance of surgery – Dr Aggarwal does not offer upper body lift to patients who are actively smoking.
  • You will also be required to wear a binder for 8 weeks.
  • Light activity allowed at 4 weeks
  • Exercise allowed at 6-8 weeks, and heavy gym exercise deferred for 3 months.
  • Dr Aggarwal will provide you with the necessary scripts for antibiotics and pain relief. The antibiotics need to be continued until when the drains are out.
  • Not usually for the upper trunk.
  • However patients who undergo massive weight loss return for other surgeries such as arm lift, thigh lift, lower body lift, and facial cosmetic surgery.
  • It may be possible to undertake scar revision at any of the future surgeries
  • Yes
  • However we always encourage patients not to be away overseas shortly after having a procedure, so that we can closely follow your recovery and address any concerns that may arise
  • It is also unwise to undertake long haul flight after long operations as this significantly increases your risk of clots in the legs (DVT) and clots in the lungs (PE).
  • You may do gentle swimming in a pool or beach after 2-3 weeks once all wounds have healed and all the drains are out.
  • Heavier swimming (like doing laps) will need to be deferred for 3 months.
  • It is best to not drive for the first 1-2 weeks after upper body lift surgery.
  • No.
  • Patients who have lost significant amounts of weight need the loose skin and fat cut out.

Procedure Pricing

  • Upper body lift surgery attracts a Medicare/health insurance rebate for those who meet the following criteria (the rules changed in 2016):
    • Significant loss of weight equal to or greater than 5 BMI points
    • Skin condition exacerbated by loose skin and fat
    • Skin condition not resolving with 3 months of conservative therapy
  • A quote for this procedure will be provided to you after a consultation with Dr. Aggarwal. You can also call or email our office for our current indicative pricing
  • Please note that the above prices do not include
    • Preoperative consultation fees
    • Fees for other procedures such as liposuction, breast or face surgery.

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Mode Plastic Surgery

924 Pacific Highway

Gordon NSW 2072

Consulting time
Multiple options throughout the week


Chris O’Brien Lifehouse

Level 2, Clinic D

119-143 Missenden Road

Camperdown NSW 2050

Consulting time
Alternate Thursdays


Hunters Hill Clinic

Level 1, 6 Ryde Road

Hunters Hill NSW 2110

Consulting time
Once a month Thursday morning.


St Luke’s Private Hospital

18 Roslyn Street

Potts Point, NSW, 2011

Consulting time
One Friday each month.


Hornsby Medical Specialists

Suite 1 / 49 Palmerston Road

Hornsby NSW 2077


1300 80 9000


Suite 13, 924 Pacific Highway
Gordon NSW 2072, Australia

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