The pro's and con's of butt lifts explained.

Nora Nugent FRCSI (Plast)

Thinking about giving your derriere a lift? In part II of our look at buttock surgery, plastic surgeon Nora Nugent runs through the pro’s and cons’ of the different types of procedures.

Q. What types of procedures are performed in the UK?                   

A. There are three main types of buttock lift or gluteal augmentation surgery.

  • Brazilian Butt Lift: Brazilian Butt Lift (BBL) procedures have soared in popularity over the last few years, particularly in the Americas. A Brazilian Butt lift is when fat is transferred from another area of the body to the buttocks.  The fat is first obtained by liposuction from areas such as the back, tummy and waist areas.  Then the fat is washed and prepared for transfer.  Finally, the fat is injected into the buttocks to fill out and improve the shape.  Once healed, the transferred fat gives a soft natural feel to the buttock and a long lasting, natural result.  There is also the added advantage of liposuction to other areas to remove the fat!
  • Buttock Implants: Silicone implants are also used to enhance the shape and enlarge the buttock area. There are different sizes and shapes of implants available and they are placed into the buttock via an incision towards the edge of each buttock area.
  • Buttock Lift: A buttock lift is where the skin and fatty tissue of the buttock is lifted and reshaped surgically. This is typically done when someone has lost a lot of weight and is left with loose skin and loss of shape of the buttock area.  It can also be done to counteract loss of tissue shape with ageing, and gives a more youthful shape to the buttocks.


  • Non-Surgical Gluteal Enhancement: The non-surgical area continues to improve with skin tightening treatments such as radiofrequency treatments, cellulite treatments and selective non-surgical body contouring such as with techniques like CoolSculpting or cryolipolysis.  These treatments improve skin quality and can mildly alter shape. A series of treatments are usually needed and the effect is milder than with the surgical options.  They do not usually enlarge the buttock area.
  • Beware of other injection techniques as there have been numerous disasters reported when silicone gel or other substances have been injected directly into the gluteal area.


Q. What are the main pros and cons of surgical options vs. nonsurgical options.

In general the pros and cons of the surgical options and non-surgical options are the following:

Surgical Buttock EnhancementGreater effect

One time procedure usually

Long lasting result

Treats loose skin very effectively
Usually require general anaesthetic

Need a longer recovery time

Specific requirements during recovery e.g. avoiding sitting directly on your bottom (special cushions/lying off area

Time off work/exercise

Can be expensive

Risks of surgery greater than non-surgical risks
Non-Surgical Buttock EnhancementNo anaesthetic needed

Less or minimal downtime

Less expensive
Milder effect than surgical treatment

Limitations to what can be treated effectively e.g. amount of loose skin

Series of treatments may be required

Effect of some treatments may wear off quickly


Q. What are the potential risks of surgical vs. nonsurgical procedures?

A: While the majority of gluteal enhancement surgeries are done without a problem, all surgery carries a level of risk which needs to be carefully explained in advance.  With safe surgery and anaesthetic techniques, problems such as infection or bleeding or clots in leg veins can be minimised.

Specific to the BBL, scarring is minimal as both obtaining the fat to transfer and transferring the fat to the buttock area are done via very small (tiny) incisions.  The amount of fat that is retained long-term can vary and sometimes small areas of liquid can form in areas whrer the fat has not survived being transferred. This is called liponecrosis.

There is a very rare but very serious risk of the transferred fat getting into a blood vessel and travelling to the lungs. This is called a ‘fat embolism’ and it can cause serious problems.

With implants, the scar is bigger but usually placed as discretely as possible along the inner curve.  Whenever an implant is placed, it is always a possibility that it may need to be removed and/or replaced in the future.  By choosing a reasonable size (i.e. not too big!) and an experienced surgeon, the risk of this is lower.

A buttock lift improves shape and contour and tightens skin very effectively but comes at the cost of a significant scar.  For most, the improved shape outweighs the scar but again this is something that needs to be discussed with you in advance of the surgery.

Non-surgical techniques carry less risks although the risk of skin damage and irregularities under the skin is present for some techniques.  The main risk is disappointment in the result if you are expecting a dramatic change in your buttock size or appearance with a non-surgical treatment.  They can improve the surface of the skin and help with cellulite but will not give a significant change in size or shape to your buttocks. A series of treatments is also often needed to see a worthwhile change.


Q. What is the approximate cost of procedures.

A: The cost of buttock surgery will vary depending on which type of surgery you have and the extent of surgery required in your individual case.  Hospital and surgical fees also vary from location to location. A BBL would typically cost in the range of £6,000 – 10,000 as would a buttock lift and buttock implants.


Q. Do you perform these procedures?

A:  I offer Brazilian Butt Lifts and buttock lifts in my practice.  I do not offer buttock implants as I feel that the BBL gives a more natural result that is more comfortable for my patients.  BBL also avoids leaving permanent implants in place that may need to be removed in the future.

For my weight loss patients, a buttock lift with or without fat transfer is a very effective solution to their problem and the other techniques simply cannot properly treat extensive loose skin after significant weight loss.


Q. What should I do before surgery?

A: Ensuring that your nutrition is good, your weight stable, not smoking and planning well for your recovery afterwards are the best things that you can do to help your healing to go well.

I always advise to check that your surgeon is a fully qualified plastic surgeon on the specialist register in plastic surgery with the General Medical Council. 

A good start point is looking for a member of BAAPS or BAPRAS in your area. These are the two main professional organisations in the UK for fully accredited plastic surgeons and you can find their members on their websites.

Check also that the hospital or clinic is regulated and check what kind of  aftercare and follow up is included in your treatment.

Part I – butt lifts explained – click here.









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