Butt Lift Surgery Procedure, Complications, and Results

What is a butt lift? Known as gluteoplasty, this surgery 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.

Woman wearing jeans checking her body in the mirror
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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. It may also improve the appearance of cellulite. Its goal is to return the body to a more normal appearance after the 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?

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 the 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. If you smoke, you may be asked by your surgeon to stop in advance of surgery.

Recovery and Downtime

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. Most patients can return to work after two weeks, provided there is not a lot of extended sitting. Strenuous or extended activity should be avoided until at least four to six 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, or excessive bleeding.


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. The geographical area where you have surgery also factors into the cost. 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, 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 affect the elasticity of the facial skin, so a facelift, neck lift, or brow lift may be desired as well.

Seeing Your Results

It will take two to three weeks of recovery before you can resume normal activities. In some cases, the swelling will remain for weeks or even months. 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.

The Procedure

  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.
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Article Sources
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  1. American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery . Buttock lift.

Additional Reading
  • 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.