Also known as butt lift or gluteoplasty
Excess skin and fat from aging, heredity factors, or after dramatic weight loss in the gluteal area can be drastically improved with a buttock lift. Not to be confused with a “Brazilian butt lift,” which adds volume using fat transfer, this procedure involves only removing skin and fat through surgical excision and liposuction. Every year, thousands of people undergo successful buttock-lift surgery and are pleased with the results.
When to Consider a Buttock Lift
- If you have loose, sagging skin and extra fat in your buttocks
- If you recently experienced dramatic weight loss and are close to your ideal weight
- If your gluteal area makes you feel self-conscious
- If the excess skin and fat make you uncomfortable or cause mobility problems
There are many techniques and approaches, but generally:
- Your surgeon will make an incision at the top of the buttocks, in the hips, groin, or under the buttock cheeks to remove excess skin and pull the remaining skin taut.
- Liposuction may be used to further contour the buttock area or thighs to achieve a balanced look.
- Any incisions are sutured and closed in layers to ensure that the skin remains tight.
- Drains and dressings are placed and usually a compression garment or girdle is worn to reduce swelling and tighten the skin.
Your plastic surgeon will provide you with preoperative instructions, answer any questions you may have, take a detailed medical history, and perform a physical exam to determine your fitness for surgery.
In advance of your procedure, your surgeon will ask you to:
- Stopping smoking before undergoing surgery to promote better healing.
- Avoid taking aspirin, certain anti-inflammatory drugs, and some herbal medications that can cause increased bleeding.
- Regardless of the type of surgery to be performed, hydration is very important before and after surgery for safe recovery.
Buttock lift is usually performed on an outpatient basis. Be sure to arrange for someone to drive you home after surgery and to stay with you at least the first night following surgery.
What can I expect on the day of buttock-lift surgery?
Your buttock-lift surgery may be performed in an accredited hospital, free-standing ambulatory facility, or office-based surgical suite. Most buttock lift procedures take at least three to six hours to complete but may take longer.
You will receive medications to keep you comfortable during the surgical procedure. Local anesthesia combined with sedation may be an option but general anesthesia is more commonly used for this procedure. An anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist will be present to administer sedatives or general anesthesia and assist in monitoring you during surgery. After you are asleep, a breathing tube will be placed in your mouth to ensure that your airway is secure during position changes involved in the buttock lift procedure.
For your safety during the surgery, various monitors will be used to check your heart, blood pressure, pulse, and the amount of oxygen circulating in your blood.
Your plastic surgeon will follow the surgical plan discussed with you before surgery. Once the operation has begun, he or she may decide to combine various techniques or change a technique to ensure the best result. It is important that you feel comfortable and trust your doctor to make these decisions.
When you wake up, you may find the following:
- Surgical drains have been placed to remove fluid that accumulates within the incisions.
- You are wearing a compression garment, which controls swelling, supports the suspended tissues and smoothes and flattens the skin. This garment may be placed at the time of surgery or later.
After surgery, you will be taken into a recovery area, where you will continue to be closely monitored.
You may go home on the day of surgery with skilled nursing help or spend two or three days in an aftercare center with a nurse, or in the hospital, unless you and your plastic surgeon have made other plans for your immediate postoperative recovery Under no circumstances will you be permitted to go home alone or stay home without another adult present. * * Follow your doctor's recommendation in relation to this decision.
Before leaving for home, you (or someone looking after you) should feel comfortable emptying and resetting your drains.
Depending on the quality of your skin, how much excess there is to remove, and your body shape, your surgeon will determine what options are open to you. If there is a large amount of skin to remove, you may consider having a lower body lift, which would help remove skin around the stomach, buttock, thighs, and hips. If removing the skin will result in a loss of volume to the buttock, a buttock augmentation might be appropriate following a buttock lift.
It's important to choose your surgeon based on:
- Education, training, and certification
- Experience with butt lift surgery
- Your comfort level with him or her
Members of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery are experienced and qualified to perform your aesthetic procedure. Learn how to Select a Surgeon.
After finding a board-certified plastic surgeon in your area who is experienced in performing buttock lifts, you will need to make an office appointment for your consultation. Generally, because of the in-depth nature of the consultation, there is a cost associated with the initial visit, which is sometimes deducted from the price of the procedure.
During your initial consultation, you will have the opportunity to discuss your cosmetic goals. Your surgeon will evaluate you as a candidate for a buttock lift and clarify what this procedure can do for you. Once the surgeon understands your goals, he or she may suggest additional or related procedures. It is important to be completely honest during the consultation. It's a good idea to be fully prepared to answer these questions:
- Do you have any medical conditions or drug allergies? Are you being treated for any medical conditions?
- Have you had any previous surgeries?
- What are your current medications and vitamin and herbal supplements?
- What is your current use of alcohol, tobacco, and recreational drugs?
- What is your history with any noninvasive cosmetic procedures?
- What outcome do you expect from the surgery? What is your chief motivation in undergoing a buttock lift?
Your surgeon may also:
- Ask you to look in a mirror and point out exactly what you would like to see improved
- Take photos for your medical record and use computer imaging to demonstrate the improvements you can expect
- Evaluate your health status, including preexisting health conditions or risk factors
- Evaluate the elasticity of your skin
- Discuss your options and recommend a course of treatment
- Discuss likely outcomes, including risks or potential complications
- Discuss the type of anesthesia that will be used
Based on your goals, physical characteristics, and the surgeon's years of training and experience, your surgeon will share recommendations and information with you, including:
- An approach to your surgery, including the type of procedure or combination of procedures
- The outcomes that you can anticipate
- Your financial investment in the procedure
- Associated risks and complications
- Options for anesthesia and surgery location
- What you need to prepare for your surgery
- What you can expect to experience after surgery
- Show before-and-after photos of cases similar to yours and answer any questions
For a general list of questions to ask your surgeon about his background, to find out about plastic surgery safety, and to plan your procedure, visit the Planning Toolkit.
We developed these questions to help you:
- Make the most informed and intelligent decisions about your procedure
- Confirm that you have the right surgeon for your procedure
- Make your initial consultation as rewarding as possible
- Understand your options, potential outcomes, and risks
It is important for you to take an active role in your surgery, so please use this list of questions as a starting point for your initial consultation:
- Am I a good candidate for a buttock lift?
- Are the results I am seeking reasonable and realistic?
- Do you have before-and-after photos I can look at for the procedure I am undergoing?
- Will my scars be visible? Where will my scars be located?
- What kind of anesthesia do you recommend for me?
- What will be the costs associated with my surgery?
- What will you expect of me to get the best results?
- What kind of recovery period can I expect, and when can I resume normal activities?
- What are the risks and complications associated with my procedure?
- How are complications handled?
- What are my options if the cosmetic outcome of my surgery does not meet the goals we agreed on?
Your surgeon will discuss how long it will be before you can return to your normal level of activity and work. After surgery, you and your caregiver will receive detailed instructions about your postsurgical care, including information about:
- Drains, if they have been placed
- Normal symptoms you will experience
- Any potential signs of complications
See options for short-term recovery locations in Aftercare and Recovery (Planning Toolkit).
Immediately after your buttock lift
Generally, you can expect to be bandaged and wearing compression garments, and you may have some surgical drains in place. Once you learn how to take care of your drains, feel comfortable walking and moving, and are comfortable with oral pain medications, you will be discharged.
- When the anesthesia wears off, you may have some pain. If the pain is extreme or long-lasting, contact your physician. You will also have some redness and swelling after the surgery. In some cases, the swelling will remain for weeks or even months. Contact your physician to determine if your pain, redness, and swelling is normal or a sign of a problem.
- Make sure you continue to have lots of help at home − this cannot be stressed enough. You'll be tempted to try to help around the house soon after surgery, but you won't feel like yourself for at least two weeks, and you still should not do anything strenuous, including lifting, for four to six weeks. If you have small children, arrange for someone else to be totally in charge of their care for two weeks.
- Ask your surgeon how to sit and sleep, including the use of pillows, to minimize the tension on your incisions, reduce pain, and facilitate a thinner scar.
- Drains, which also control swelling, are placed to remove fluid that accumulates within the incisions. Your doctor will ask you to measure the amount of fluid in your drains daily. Once the output falls low enough, your drains will be removed in your doctor's office. Drains typically remain in place two to three weeks, but may be left longer.
Recovery time frame after a buttock lift
Buttock-lift surgery is quite extensive and will require two to three weeks of recovery before you can resume normal activities. Full healing will take several months. Being in good health, not smoking, and having help after surgery will increase the speed of healing, improve your results, and prevent complications.
Results from buttock lifts are very long-lasting. As with most surgery, weight fluctuations, pregnancy, and aging will take a toll on the body and the results of your buttock lift. If you maintain a healthy lifestyle and avoid stretching the skin by weight gain, you can enjoy a youthful contour for a long time.
Maintain a relationship with your aesthetic plastic surgeon
For safety, as well as the most beautiful and healthy outcome, it's important to return to your plastic surgeon's office for follow-up evaluation at prescribed times and whenever you notice any changes in your buttock lift. Do not hesitate to contact your surgeon when you have any questions or concerns.
The cost of a buttock lift varies from doctor to doctor and from one geographic area to another. Generally speaking, insurance companies will not pay for a buttock lift. Many surgeons offer patient financing plans to make the procedure more affordable.
These numbers only reflect the physician/surgeon fees last year and do not include fees for the surgical facility, anesthesia, medical tests, prescriptions, surgical garments, or other miscellaneous costs related to buttock lift.
Choose your surgeon based on quality, training, and experience—not cost.
See why ASAPS members are widely recognized for upholding the highest standards in the area of aesthetic plastic surgery by viewing their basic credentials, training, and certifications.
Fortunately, significant complications from buttock-lift surgery are infrequent. Your specific risks will be discussed during your consultation.
All surgical procedures have some degree of risk. Some of the potential complications of all surgeries are:
- Adverse reaction to anesthesia
- Hematoma or seroma (an accumulation of blood or fluid under the skin that may require removal)
- Infection and bleeding
- Changes in sensation
- Allergic reactions
- Damage to underlying structures
- Unsatisfactory results that may necessitate additional procedures
You can help minimize certain risks by following the advice and instructions of your board-certified plastic surgeon, both before and after your buttock-lift surgery.This article was originally published for Smart Beauty Guide and was legally licensed