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Regular checkups for skin cancer can save your life. These 10 conditions merit a visit to the dermatologist.

Buttock Lift


Hedy Marks, MPH

What is a buttock lift?

A buttock lift, or butt lift, is the surgical lifting and tightening of the skin of the buttocks. Most people have a buttock lift for cosmetic reasons to improve the appearance of the buttocks. A buttock lift involves removing excess skin and repositioning tissues to lift and shape the buttocks.

A buttock lift is a common but major surgery that has risks and potential complications. You may have less invasive treatment options. Consider getting a second opinion about all your treatment choices before having a buttock lift. 

Other procedures that may be performed 

Your doctor may recommend other procedures in addition to a buttock lift to enhance the appearance of your buttocks or other areas. This is common for sagging or loose skin that results from significant weight loss. Other procedures may include:

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  • Abdominoplasty, or tummy tuck, to remove excess skin from the stomach area

  • Belt lipectomy, or body lift, to remove loose, hanging skin from the waist down. This often includes a buttock lift.

  • Breast surgery to lift sagging breasts

  • Buttock augmentation, sometimes called a Brazilian butt lift, using implants or fat injections to add fullness and roundness to the buttocks

  • Facial plastic surgeries, such as facelift, neck lift, or brow lift, to tighten sagging skin and create a more youthful appearance

  • Liposuction to remove excess fat

  • Thigh or arm lift to remove sagging skin on the thighs and arms

Why is a buttock lift performed?

Your doctor may recommend a buttock lift to tighten and lift low, flat, or unevenly shaped buttocks. A buttock lift can also remove loose, sagging skin on the buttocks that result from significant weight loss or aging. 

Your doctor may only consider a buttock lift for you if other treatment options with less risk of complications have failed. Other options include diet and exercise. Ask your doctor about all of your treatment options and consider getting a second opinion before deciding on a buttock lift.

Who performs a buttock lift?

A plastic surgeon performs a buttock lift. A plastic surgeon is a specialist in aesthetic and reconstructive surgery. 

How is a buttock lift performed?

Your buttock life will be performed in a hospital, surgeon's office, or outpatient surgery setting. Your surgeon will make incisions in certain areas of the buttocks based on the amount and location of the excess skin. 

An ellipse shaped incision on the upper portion of the buttock below the bikini line is most common type of incision. Your surgeon may use a "butt wedge" incision at the crease of the buttock if you have minor sagging. 

Your surgeon will remove excess tissues and pull the remaining skin to its new position. The incisions are closed with stitches, surgical tape, or skin adhesives. Your surgeon may place small drains under the skin to drain excess blood or fluid. 

A buttock lift is usually an outpatient procedure. Your doctor will advise you on which procedure is best for you and if you need to stay in the hospital based on your diagnosis, age, medical history, general health, and possibly your personal preference. Learn about the different buttock lift procedures and ask why your surgeon will use a particular type for you.

Types of anesthesia that may be used

Your surgeon will perform a buttock lift using either general anesthesia or regional anesthesia, depending on the specific procedure. 

  • General anesthesia is a combination of intravenous (IV) medications and gases that put you in a deep sleep. You are unaware of the procedure and will not feel any pain.

  • Regional anesthesia is also known as a nerve block. It involves injecting an anesthetic around certain nerves to numb a large area of the body. To numb a smaller area, your doctor injects the anesthetic in the skin and tissues around the procedure area (local anesthesia). You will likely have sedation with regional anesthesia to keep you relaxed and comfortable.

What to expect the day of your buttock lift

The day of your surgery, you can expect to:

  • Talk with a preoperative nurse. The nurse will perform an exam and ensure that all needed tests are in order. The nurse can also answer questions and will make sure you understand and sign the surgical consent form.

  • Remove all clothing and jewelry and dress in a hospital gown. It is a good idea to leave all jewelry and valuables at home or with a family member. Your care team will give you blankets for modesty and warmth.

  • Talk with the anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist about your medical history and the type of anesthesia you will have.

  • A surgical team member will start an IV.

  • The anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist will start your anesthesia.

  • A tube may be placed in your windpipe to protect and control breathing during general anesthesia. You will not feel or remember this or the surgery as they happen.

  • The surgical team will monitor your vital signs and other critical body functions. This occurs throughout the procedure and your recovery until you are alert, breathing effectively, and your vital signs are stable.

What are the risks and potential complications of a buttock lift?

As with all surgeries, a buttock lift involves risks and possible complications. Complications may become serious and life threatening in some cases. Complications can develop during surgery or recovery.

General risks of surgery 

The general risks of surgery include: 

  • Anesthesia reaction, such as an allergic reaction and problems with breathing

  • Bleeding, which can lead to shock

  • Blood clot, in particular a deep vein thrombosis that develops in the leg or pelvis. A blood clot can travel to your lungs, heart or brain and cause a pulmonary embolism, heart attack, or stroke.

  • Infection and septicemia, which is the spread of a local infection to the blood

Potential complications of buttock lift surgery

Complications of buttock lift surgery are uncommon but include:

  • Asymmetric or flattened buttocks

  • Hematoma, or bleeding under the skin that results in an accumulation of blood under the skin

  • Pain, swelling, fluid accumulation, and unfavorable scarring

  • Poor wound healing 

  • Recurrent loosening of the skin requiring additional surgery 

  • Skin or tissue death

  • Temporary or permanent change in skin sensation

Reducing your risk of complications

You can reduce the risk of some complications by following your treatment plan and: 

  • Following activity, dietary and lifestyle restrictions and recommendations before your procedure and during recovery

  • Informing your doctor or radiologist if you are nursing or if there is any possibility that you may be pregnant

  • Notifying your doctor immediately of any concerns such as bleeding, fever, increase in pain, or wound redness and swelling

  • Sleeping on your stomach and not sitting for one week after surgery. When your doctor allows sitting, he or she may recommend sitting on a cushion or inflatable ring.

  • Taking your medications exactly as directed

  • Telling all members of your care team if you have any allergies

How do I prepare for my buttock lift?

You are an important member of your own healthcare team. The steps you take before surgery can improve your comfort and outcome after surgery. 

You can prepare for a buttock lift by:

  • Answering all questions about your medical history, allergies, and medications. This includes prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, herbal treatments, and vitamins. It is a good idea to carry a current list of your medical conditions, medications, and allergies at all times.

  • Getting preoperative testing as directed. Testing will vary depending on your age, health, and specific procedure. Preoperative testing may include blood tests and other tests as needed.

  • Losing excess weight before the surgery through a healthy diet and exercise plan

  • Not eating or drinking before surgery as directed. Your surgery may be cancelled if you eat or drink too close to the start of surgery because you can choke on stomach contents during anesthesia.

  • Stopping smoking as soon as possible. Even quitting for just a few days can be beneficial and help the healing process.

  • Taking or stopping medications exactly as directed. This may include not taking aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and blood thinners. Your doctor will give you instructions for taking your specific medications and supplements.

Questions to ask your doctor

Facing surgery can be stressful. It is common for patients to forget some of their questions during a doctor’s office visit. You may also think of other questions after your appointment. Contact your doctor with concerns and questions before surgery and between appointments. 

It is also a good idea to bring a list of questions to your appointments. Questions can include:

  • Am I a good candidate for buttock lift surgery? Are there other treatment options?

  • How will you perform the procedure?

  • How long will the surgery take? When can I go home?

  • What restrictions will I have after the surgery? When can I return to work and other activities?

  • When can I shower after buttock lift surgery? How should I care for my incisions?

  • When can I sit or lie on my back? Will I need to use any special cushioning?

  • How will I look after surgery?

  • What kind of assistance will I need at home?

  • How do I take my medications?

  • How will you treat my pain?

  • When should I follow up with you?

  • How should I contact you? Ask for numbers to call during and after regular hours.

What can I expect after my buttock lift?

Knowing what to expect after buttock lift surgery can help make your road to recovery as smooth as possible. 

How long will it take to recover?

Most people stay in the surgeon’s office, surgical center, or hospital for a few hours after a buttock lift. You will stay in the recovery room after surgery until you are alert, breathing effectively, and your vital signs are stable.

You will be drowsy from sedation or anesthesia, so you will need a friend or family member to drive you home and stay with you the first night.

You may be wearing a compression garment similar to a girdle when you awake from surgery. The compression garment helps reduce swelling and aids the shrinking and tightening of the skin. 

You will likely have swelling and bruising following buttock lift surgery. Your buttocks may feel tight and sore for a few days. Bruising and swelling should subside within two to three weeks. You may need to avoid strenuous activity for as long as three months. 

Recovery after surgery is a gradual process. Recovery time varies depending on the procedure, your general health, your age, and other factors. Most people return to work two weeks after surgery, as long as there are not periods of extended sitting. Full recovery takes four to six months.

Will I feel pain?

Pain control is important for healing and a smooth recovery. There will be discomfort after your surgery. Your doctor and care team will treat your pain so you are comfortable and can get the rest you need. Call your doctor if your pain gets worse or changes in any way because it may be a sign of a complication.

When should I call my doctor?

It is important to keep your follow-up appointments after a buttock lift. Contact your doctor for questions and concerns between appointments. Call your doctor right away or seek immediate medical care if you have:

  • Bleeding

  • Breathing problems such as shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, labored breathing, or wheezing

  • Change in alertness, such as passing out, unresponsiveness, or confusion

  • Chest pain, chest tightness, chest pressure, or palpitations

  • Fever. A low-grade fever (lower than 101 degrees Fahrenheit) is common for a couple of days after surgery. It is not necessarily a sign of a surgical infection. However, you should follow your doctor's specific instructions about when to call for a fever.

  • Inability to urinate or have a bowel movement

  • Leg pain, redness or swelling, especially in the calf, which may indicate a blood clot

  • Pain that is not controlled by your pain medication

  • Unexpected drainage, pus, redness or swelling from your incision

How might a buttock lift affect my everyday life?

A buttock lift may give you increased satisfaction with your appearance and increase your self-confidence. Many surgeons caution that it is important to be realistic about how much a buttock lift may improve your self-image. Ask your surgeon what a buttock lift can and cannot do for your overall appearance and self-image. 

Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Sep 3, 2016

© 2017 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

View Sources

Medical References

  1. Body Lift. American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
  2. Buttock Lift. Cleveland Clinic.
  3. Thigh/Buttock Lift. Palo Alto Medical Foundation.
  4. Buttocks Lift (Gluteoplasty). Cooper University Health Care.
  5. Butt Lift Procedure. Ricardo L. Rodriguez, MD.
  6. Gluteoplasty-Butt Lift.
  7. Buttock Lift. Armando Soto, MD, FACS.

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