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Butt Lift Surgery (Gluteoplasty): What You Need to Know

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Updated April 20, 2009

What Is Butt Lift Surgery:

Butt lift surgery (gluteoplasty) lifts and tightens the skin of the buttocks. Excess skin is removed and the surrounding tissue repositioned to create a more youthful and pleasing body contour. This procedure is not to be confused with a brazilian butt lift, which adds volume to the buttocks using injections of the patient’s own fat to increase projection and create a lifting effect.

The downside of a butt lift is that it may flatten out the buttocks too much. In this case, a butt lift may be performed in conjunction with fat grafting or other augmentation methods including the use of the patient’s own extra skin.

Who Can Benefit From a Butt Lift:

Butt lift surgery is usually performed on those with large amounts of loose, hanging skin on the buttocks and back of the upper thighs. It may also improve the appearance of cellulite. Its goal is to return the body to a more normal appearance after loss of skin elasticity due to extreme weight loss or age-related changes.

Although small amounts of fat can be removed along with your excess skin, a butt lift is not intended to remove significant fat deposits. You should be stable at or near your ideal weight before considering a butt lift.

Who Is a Good Candidate for a Butt Lift:

The best candidates for a butt lift are non-smokers who are in generally good health and maintain a stable weight through a commitment to a healthy diet and lifestyle. It is also important for the patient to have a positive outlook and realistic expectations about outcome.

Pre-Operative Considerations:

Your surgeon will usually order pre-op lab tests to confirm your health status. He or she may also require that you adjust, cease, or begin taking certain medications in the week or two before your surgery, including avoiding aspirin, many anti-inflammatory drugs, and herbal supplements, for two weeks prior to surgery. If you smoke, you may be asked by your surgeon to stop in advance of surgery.

Recovery and Downtime:

You are advised not to sit for a week following the procedure. Most patients can return to work after 2 weeks, provided there is not a lot of extended sitting. Strenuous activity or extended should be avoided until at least 4 to 6 weeks have passed. It is important that your incisions are not subjected to excessive force, abrasion, or motion during this time.

As with all surgery, it is important to understand that these guidelines can vary widely based on the patient’s personal health, the techniques used, and other variable factors surrounding the surgery. Any severe pain should be reported to your doctor.

Risks and Complications:

Risks and possible complications include:

  • unfavorable scarring
  • excessive bleeding or hematoma
  • skin or fat necrosis (tissue death)
  • poor wound healing or wound separation
  • blood clots
  • anesthesia risks
  • deep vein thrombosis
  • cardiac and pulmonary complications
  • persistent edema (swelling) or fluid accumulation
  • persistent pain
  • temporary or permanent change/loss of skin sensation
  • asymmetry or otherwise unsatisfactory aesthetic results requiring revisional surgery
  • recurrent looseness or sagging of skin

Call your surgeon immediately if you have chest pain, shortness of breath, unusual heartbeats, excessive bleeding.

Costs:

The average total cost of a butt lift varies from $4,000 to $15,000. The discrepancies in cost have to do with the complexity of the procedure, your surgeon’s skills, qualifications, and reputation, and on the geographical area. (For example, in the U.S., costs tend to be higher in the northeast and the west.) Total costs include your surgeon’s fee, anesthesia fees, facility fees, lab fees, and medications.

Complementary Procedures:

Butt lift surgery is often done in conjunction with other surgeries to enhance the patient’s results. Often, other body contouring procedures may be desirable, such as a breast lift, tummy tuck, thigh lift, arm lift, or liposuction. If you have loose hanging skin in multiple areas from the waist down, you may want to consider a procedure known as a belt lipectomy, or body lift. Extreme weight loss can also effect the elasticity of the facial skin, so a face lift, neck lift, or brow lift may be desired as well.

Seeing Your Results:

Most swelling should subside within the first 4 to 6 weeks, although your final result may not be fully realized until up to one year following your procedure. Your body contours should be permanently improved provided you do not lose or gain a significant amount of weight. However, age and gravity will eventually cause some loss of firmness.

Your surgeon will strive to place the scar as inconspicuously as possible, so that it will be hidden underneath your chosen bathing suit style. Although they are permanent, scars will improve over time, continuing to flatten and fade for up to two years.

How It's Done:

  1. Anesthesia Is Administered

    Medications are given for your comfort during the surgical procedure. Often, general anesthesia is given so that you will be asleep throughout the procedure. However, a butt lift may also be performed using a combination of local anesthesia and intravenous sedation. Your surgeon will recommend the best choice for you.

  2. Incisions Are Made

    Although the butt lift incision most often excises an ellipse of skin on the upper portion of the buttocks (within the bikini line), incision patterns can vary depending on the amount and location of excess skin and fat. You and your surgeon will determine beforehand which incision technique will work best for your needs.

  3. Excess Skin Is Removed and Repositioned

    After your surgeon makes the incisions, the excess skin is surgically removed. The remaining skin is then pulled to its new position.

  4. Incisions Are Closed

    Incisions are closed with sutures, and are usually given additional support with surgical tape and skin adhesive (tissue glue). Dressings or bandages are applied to the incisions, and there may be small tubes temporarily placed under the skin to help drain any excess blood or fluid.

  5. Post-Op Care and Instructions

    After surgery, you will be taken to a recovery area where you will be monitored by surgical staff. Although butt lifts may in some cases be performed on an outpatient basis, your surgeon may determine that you require an overnight hospital stay. At the very least, you will need to have someone stay with you for the first 24 hours.

See plastic surgery before and after photos.

Sources:

Body Contouring Surgery in a Massive Weight Loss Patient: An Overview; Shrivastava P, Aggarwal A, Khazanchi RK. Indian Journal of Plastic Surgery 2008;41:114-29.

Cosmetic Surgery National Data Bank, American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery; 2008 Annual Report.

Interview with board certified Baltimore-based plastic surgeon, Ricardo Rodriguez, MD; conducted on March 24, 2009.

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