Zwivel's Complete Guide to Bra-Line Back Lifts

Published: 05/22/17

The bra line back lift is a body contouring procedure that helps improve the appearance of loose skin, back fat, and bulges around the bra line.

While both sexes are liable to develop folds in the mid and lower back area, in women the condition can be especially evident because a brassiere will pull the skin tightly beneath it, with the folds seeming to surround the bra. Unfortunately, no amount of exercise will help rid you of loose skin after weight loss, which is also a common result of aging.

However, there is a straightforward, surgical solution to the issue. In women this procedure is known as a bra-line back lift, because the surgical scar is hidden beneath the bra strap.

Preparing for Surgery

The important thing to keep in mind is that this is a matter of excess skin, not one of obesity. The solutions for bulging backs due to fat are diet, exercise, and/or weight loss surgery.

A back-lift removes sagging skin after weight loss, with the results being immediate and striking; the back suddenly looks tighter and younger.

Your plastic surgeon will instruct you on how best to prepare for this surgery. Typically, patients are advised not to eat on the day of the operation in order to avoid complications with the anesthesia.

To reduce the chances of serious bleeding, the patient should avoid inflammatory medicines (e.g., aspirin, ibuprofen) for a few days prior to surgery.

Smokers are normally advised to quit smoking for as long as 30 days in advance. And, of course, if they’re able to comply with that advice they should not resume smoking after the surgery.

How Back-Lift Surgery Is Performed

The first stage of the procedure is to mark the incision lines. For this, the patient strips down to her bra and panties. Since the incisions are performed under the bra, the patient should wear one that she’ll want to use to hide the surgical scar.

The surgeon will mark the top and bottom of the bra and then remove it so the incision line can be traced. The exact placing of the line depends on the surgeon’s analysis of the patient’s skin, but typically it goes inside the lower half of the marked area, stretching from the base of the right breast across the whole of the back until it reaches the base of the left breast. This long cut allows for a full lift without distorting or tensing the remaining skin.

Once the incision line is drawn, the surgeon adds a few straight vertical lines to mark the points where the skin is to be sewn together. This procedure ensures that the skin below the incision will remain in the same relative position to the skin above the incision.

The patient is then instructed to lie prone on the operating table, where she will put under general anesthesia. The arms are free so that the surgeon can adjust them if necessary.

The surgeon checks the skin markings and alignment to make sure nothing is too loose or too tight. Before making the incision, some surgeons use lidocaine along the incision line to further numb the skin.

The first incision is made along the marked incision line. The skin is slowly raised and liposuction is often used to detach the skin from underlying fat. The amount of skin to be removed depends on the patient’s condition. Frequently a strip of skin several inches tall is removed along the entire width of the back.

Temporary staples align the skin and keep it in place while the surgeon carefully sews it back together. The sewing procedure requires considerable skill in order to provide firm alignment without creating tension along the scar line.

Once the incision is closed, the line is bandaged or taped. The entire procedure takes 60 - 90 minutes to complete. Usually no drain is needed, but on occasion the patient will return home with a drain in place. (Your surgeon will instruct you about removing it.)

RELATED: Flabby Upper Arms? Brachioplasty May Be Your Best Skin Tightening Option

Bra Line Back Lift Surgery Recovery

Wait at least 24 hours before taking a shower, and do not expect to return to work the first week following surgery.

Your back is likely to be bruised and painful for several days afterward. Apply an ice pack to painful areas. Some patients report the discomfort requires pain pills for as long as one week after the procedure, especially at night.

During the first week the scar remains bandaged and the patient should not engage in stretching, heavy lifting or strenuous exercise for another three or four weeks after surgery. Normal activities can resume once any potential discomfort has stopped and the back no longer feels tight.

Raise any questions or concerns you may have during follow-up visits to your surgeon.

How Much A Bra Line Back Lift Costs

Standard fees are between $8,000 and $10,000.

Insurance almost never covers this elective, cosmetic surgery. However, you may be able to arrange to pay for the procedure in installments over a given period of time, depending on your surgeon’s policies.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why might I consider this surgery?

Because you are troubled by skin folds on your back that create an unpleasing appearance.

Are the folds really just skin?

There is usually some fat present as well, but fat is not the source of the problem. You should be able to feel flab, not the usual, springy condition that indicates abundant fat.

What if my bulges contain fat as well?

Fat removal is another issue and treated differently. Fat can be sucked out (liposuction), or killed by freezing (CoolSculpting), or dissolved (Kybella). It is best to have the fat reduced before considering a back lift.

What alternative treatments are available?

In the old days these folds could be hidden beneath a tight, whale-bone corset, but that solution is out of touch with modern lifestyles. Some people choose to wear loose clothing that renders their body shapeless, but most people who have gone to the trouble of losing weight like to show off their bodies a bit.

There are no pills or alternative surgical solutions that can remove the extra fat and give shape to your back.

What risks do I face?

Surgery always carries some risk, but back lifts do not expose any major internal organs and are not considered dangerous.

The procedure is usually performed under general anesthesia and that does pose some risk; however, back lifts don’t take long to complete and complications from general anesthesia are higher in lengthier operations. Typically, complications are brought under control quickly. Death from a general anesthesia is very rare.

I have tattoos on my back. How will they be affected?

Naturally, any tattoos on the removed skin will be lost, but the care taken to align the skin should prevent any surviving tattoos from becoming misshapen.

Will I be able to lie on my back?

During the first weeks after surgery you may feel discomfort lying on your back, but that will pass. It is best to sleep on your side for the first three or four weeks following surgery.

Will I be permanently scarred?

The surgery leaves a long thin scar across the patient’s back. It fades with time, but does not disappear. In women, this scar is usually hidden beneath the bra.

Will the folds return?

The key issue is diet. If you can maintain your weight your back should remain firm.