A buttock lift is a cosmetic surgical procedure to improve the appearance of the buttocks. It's typically done as part of a belt lipectomy or lower body lift to contour the buttocks, groin, thighs and abdomen.

During a buttock lift, excess skin and fat are removed from the buttocks. The remaining skin is then repositioned to create a more toned look.

You might choose to have a buttock lift if your buttocks appear saggy due to weight loss, aging or genetics. A buttock lift can boost your body image.

As you get older, your skin changes and becomes looser. In addition to aging, sun damage, fluctuations in weight and genetic factors can contribute to poor skin elasticity. This can cause your buttocks, as well as other parts of your body, to sag.

A buttock lift is typically done in combination with other body contouring procedures. You might consider a buttock lift if you:

  • Have lost a significant amount of weight
  • Are overweight and haven't been able to lose a significant amount of weight through physical activity and changes in your diet
  • Have a normal weight, but want a dramatic improvement in the appearance of your lower body
  • Have a normal weight, but your skin won't contract after liposuction due to poor elasticity related to aging

Keep in mind that a buttock lift won't change your skin quality.

A buttock lift isn't for everyone. Your doctor might caution against a buttock lift if you:

  • Have a severe chronic condition, such as heart disease or diabetes
  • Plan to lose a significant amount of weight
  • Have a body mass index that's greater than 32
  • Are a smoker
  • Have an unstable mental health condition

A buttock lift poses various risks, including:

  • Fluid accumulation beneath the skin (seroma). Drainage tubes left in place after surgery can help reduce the risk of seroma. Your doctor might also remove fluid after surgery using a needle and syringe.
  • Poor wound healing. Sometimes areas along the incision line heal poorly or begin to separate. You might be given antibiotics if there is a wound healing problem.
  • Scarring. Incision scars from a buttock lift are permanent, but typically placed in areas that aren't easily visible.
  • Changes in skin sensation. During a buttock lift, the repositioning of your tissues can affect superficial sensory nerves. You'll likely feel some reduced sensation or numbness. This numbness usually diminishes in the months to year following the procedure.

Like any other type of major surgery, a buttock lift poses a risk of bleeding, infection and an adverse reaction to anesthesia.

Initially, you'll talk to a plastic surgeon about a buttock lift. During your first visit, your plastic surgeon will likely:

  • Review your medical history. Be prepared to answer questions about current and past medical conditions. Talk about any medications you are taking or have taken recently, as well as any surgeries you've had. If your desire for a buttock lift is related to weight loss, your doctor will likely ask detailed questions about your weight gain and loss, as well as your diet.
  • Do a physical exam. To determine your treatment options, the doctor will do blood tests and examine your buttocks, skin and lower body. The doctor might also take pictures of your buttocks for your medical record.
  • Discuss your expectations. Explain why you want a buttock lift and what you're hoping for in terms of appearance after the procedure. Make sure you understand the benefits and risks, including scarring.

Before a buttock lift you might also need to:

  • Stop smoking. Smoking decreases blood flow in the skin and can slow the healing process. Smoking can also significantly increase your risk of complications, such as delayed wound healing, wound separation and infection. If you smoke, your doctor will recommend that you stop smoking before surgery and during recovery.
  • Avoid certain medications. You'll likely need to avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements, which can increase bleeding.
  • Maintain a stable weight. Ideally, you'll maintain a stable weight for at least three months before having a buttock lift. If you're severely overweight, your doctor will recommend that you lose weight before the procedure. Significant weight loss after the procedure can diminish your results.
  • Take medication to prevent complications. Shortly before your buttock lift, you might need to begin taking an anticoagulant to prevent blood clotting.
  • Arrange for help during recovery. Make plans for someone to drive you home after surgery and stay with you as you begin to recover.

A buttock lift is done in a hospital or an outpatient surgical facility. During a buttock lift, you'll be comfortable with the aid of general anesthetic — which renders you unconscious.

A tube (catheter) will be placed into your bladder to collect urine. Your legs will be placed in devices called sequential compression boots, which are used to prevent blood clotting during and after surgery.

During the procedure

Your plastic surgeon will make an incision along the lower back, from hip to hip. The excess skin below the incision is pulled up, lifting the buttocks. The extra skin and fat is then removed.

During the procedure you'll be given an antibiotic to reduce the risk of infection. Special warming devices also will be used to help you maintain a normal body temperature.

The procedure typically takes two to three hours.

After the procedure

After a buttock lift, your incision will likely be covered with surgical dressing. One or more drains are typically placed under the wound and close to the incision line to drain any excess blood or fluid.

Members of your health care team will also help you walk as early as the first day after a buttock lift to help prevent the formation of blood clots.

You'll likely feel moderate pain, which will initially be controlled by intravenous pain medication. Drains might be left in place for one to three weeks after surgery. Your doctor or a member of your health care team will show you how to empty and care for your drains. You might need to continue taking an antibiotic and anticoagulant for 10 days after your buttock lift.

You'll wear a supportive garment for up to four weeks after your buttock lift. This will help prevent fluid buildup and provide support while you heal. Your doctor will explain how to care for your scar. Scar management might include use of silicone sheeting, scar cream and massage. The appearance of your scar will continue to improve over time.

For the first months after a buttock lift, you'll need to take care when moving -increasing your activity level slowly — and avoid positions that strain your incision line to prevent the re-opening of the wound. Your doctor will provide specific instructions. In addition, you'll need to schedule follow-up visits with your doctor over the course of the next year.

By removing excess skin and fat from your buttocks, a buttock lift can give you a more toned appearance.

Buttock lift results are usually long lasting. Keep in mind that maintaining a stable weight is crucial for retaining your results.

Aug. 21, 2013