In the immortal words of Shakira, our hips don’t lie. But what if you are unhappy with the lie of your hip area? So-called ‘hip dips’ — indentations found along the side body below the hips and above the thighs — are natural and harmless, but we all seem to be obsessed with them. Google trend data shows that searches for the term (and it’s sister expression, ‘violin hips’) have soared this year. So, what’s driving the interest? We’re breaking down everything you need to know about hip dips and hear from two patients who chose different procedures to correct them.
What Causes Hip Dips
Hip dips or violin hips refer to the inward curves that sit just below the hip bone. Instead of the outer curvature of the hip being rounded, it’s indented. Hip dips are generally caused by the skin being tethered to a deep part of the thigh bone, and how visible they are depends on the width of the hips and the shape of the pelvis. For some, this indentation is barely noticeable. For others, it’s more prominent.
Despite living healthy and active lifestyles, people often find these dips won’t budge due to the anatomy of the indentations themselves. No matter how many times you do exercises that purport to target hip dips (think: squats, lunges, and deadlifts to increase muscle mass around the thighs and buttocks), those who are genetically predisposed to having them are unlikely to see much of a change because the lack of volume cannot be addressed.
Hip Dip Treatment Options
We said it before, but it bears repeating: Hip dips are natural, and there is no medical need to treat them. But, if they bother you, that doesn’t make them any less frustrating. Diet and exercise are unable to provide a whole lot of assistance, but there are some cosmetic procedures that can address the contour of the hips. With both non-surgical and surgical solutions available, we’re rounding up the most common hip dip treatment options.
1. Fillers for Hip Dips
- Average Cost: $800 to $1,000 per vial
- Downtime: No exercise for 24 hours
- Anesthesia: Local
The same fillers that you turn to for facial rejuvenation and contour can also be used to sculpt and volumize certain areas of the body, too. In the case of hips dips, providers can employ the filler to, well, fill out the indentations for a smoother, more streamlined silhouette (note: there are currently no fillers approved by United States Food and Drug Administration for hip augmentation, though some are used ‘off-label’ to improve hip contour). Sculptra®, a poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA) injectable, is often the go-to for addressing hip dips because it is considered a collagen stimulator (meaning it helps the skin rebuild collagen and, thus, improve volume loss).
Both on the face and body, a series of treatments (spaced about four to six weeks apart) are needed. For hip dip correction, six to 10 vials of Sculptra® may be needed per session, which, if you are doing the math, can quickly become costly. It should also be noted that results are not immediate — they gradually reveal themselves over the course of four to six months. The benefit of Sculptra®, however, is that those results can last two years or more.
There is no downtime associated with Sculptra® injections, though your provider will likely tell you to refrain from exercising for the first 24 hours. Beyond that, bruising and injection site pain are the most common side effects and generally resolve in a few days.
2. Fat Transfer for Hip Dips
- Average Cost: $8,000 to $10,000
- Downtime: 1 week off from work; resume normal activities around 4-weeks post-op
- Anesthesia: Local or general
If you are looking for a more natural alternative to filler and have areas of unwanted fat, fat transfer may provide an ideal solution for treating hip dips. Like a Brazilian butt lift (BBL), the procedure involves removing fat via liposuction from one area of the body (think: the low abdomen) and injecting it into another (in this case, the hips). The grafted fat needs time to become acclimated to its new location, and, during the first year, patients can expect to lose 30 to 50 percent of the tissue. It’s worth keeping that in mind when you’re considering how much fat to have transferred, and your surgeon will be able to give you advice tailored to your specific body.
The procedure is carried out either under local or general anesthesia, depending on the patient and provider. In either case, most people return home on the same day. Because more than one area of the body is involved (both the donor site and the hips), post-op discomfort can be experienced in multiple locations. Swelling and bruising are common. While the benefit of fat grafting (when compared to synthetic filler) is that there is no risk of the body rejecting it, a patient must have enough excess fat in order to be a candidate. Since hip dips are often most prominent on those with minimal body fat, the procedure isn’t always a viable solution.
3. Hip Implants for Hip Dips
- Average Cost: $8,000 - $10,000
- Downtime: 1-2 weeks off from work; resume normal activities 6-8 weeks post-op
- Anesthesia: General
The most invasive and permanent procedure to correct hip dips is hip implants. The implants are usually custom-molded for the patient and made of silicone. Unlike silicone breast implants, hip implants (like butt implants) are not filled with a liquid or gel solution. Instead, they are more solid, do not leak or rupture, and are designed to look and feel like natural muscle tissue. During the surgery, which is performed under general anesthesia, your surgeon will insert the implants through small incisions along the underwear line. Patients typically return home the same day.
Compared to the other hip dip solutions, implant recovery is the most involved. While you can likely return to work within one to two weeks, it will be six to eight weeks before all normal activities resume. Like buttock implants, you’ll need to avoid putting prolonged pressure on the treatment area and your mobility will be severely limited for the first seven to 14 days. Swelling and tenderness are the most common side effects. While results are immediate, you will fully heal over the course of three to six months.
To better understand what it’s like to treat hip dip concerns with the modalities outlined above, we spoke to two patients about their experiences. Sarah opted for hip implants after first testing fillers, while Joanne turned her abdominal liposuction into a fat transfer procedure to address her hips. Below, they share their stories.
Sarah, 36, Long Island, CA
An athlete since high school, Sarah* had always been frustrated by the appearance of her hip dips. Spending hours in the gym every week wasn’t helping, so she decided to seek treatment to help improve her self-confidence.
The AEDITION: Why did you decide to have fillers and then implants to address your hip dips?
Sarah: When I first looked into having a procedure for my hip dips, I wasn’t sure exactly what the options were.I hadn’t had any kind of cosmetic procedure before, and I was looking for something that would give me the option to give this new look a try without a huge financial investment and without tons of downtime. I was really happy with the results from fillers and wanted a more permanent option after a while. I spoke to my surgeon about more permanent remedies, and she suggested implants. We spoke about fat grafting, too, but I didn’t have enough fat for that. Although it’s surgery, so it’s more of a process and there’s a decent length of downtime, I think the procedure was worthwhile and completely addressed the issue I had with my hip area.
The AEDITION: What it was like to have fillers injected in your hip area?
Sarah: I hadn’t had any fillers or Botox® before, so it was something that made me a bit nervous. I explained that to my doctor and she suggested I take some CBD before the appointment, which helped me to relax a touch. During the appointment, we discussed my hopes for the results, and I asked a few questions about looking after the area post-injections and how much pain to expect. She applied some numbing cream and got to work once. Honestly, it wasn’t the most comfortable thing I’ve ever done, but, at the same time, I went back to have it done three more times so it wasn’t really that bad. I had some bruising after two of the sessions and seemed to be more sensitive on one side than the other. If someone is looking for a minimally invasive solution to hip dips, I can recommend the fillers based on my experience. The results were just what I was hoping for — the area looked streamlined and, in photos, my hips looked like they were naturally that shape.
The AEDITION: How was your experience with the hip implant surgery?
Sarah: The recovery process from surgery was exactly as my surgeon had told me to expect. I can’t sugarcoat it: It was painful and having to avoid sitting and sleeping on your hips is more of a problem than I first expected it to be. There was a decent amount of bruising, too. The discomfort and swelling mostly eased within four or five days. I was able to start going on long walks at 10-days post-surgery and gradually built back up to my normal activity over six weeks in total. Once the swelling went down, I was so happy to see the results — especially because I don’t need to keep having injections to keep up this fuller appearance! My biggest advice would be to get a complete list of things you can’t do after surgery when you first consult your surgeon. That will give you time to plan your life a bit to make sure everything is in place and you can just rest and recover.
Joanne, 41, Charleston, SC
Joanne* was initially consulting a surgeon about liposuction to address excess fat in her lower abdomen. During the consultation, she expressed concerns about her hips and was told that she would be a good candidate for a fat transfer procedure.
The AEDITION: How was your recovery from the fat transfer procedure?
Joanne: My recovery process was relatively smooth. I did have to stay in overnight after the procedure because I have a history of allergic reactions, so my anesthesiologist wanted to keep a closer eye on me just in case. It turned out that everything went well, and I was able to go home the following morning. After that, it was a case of resting and icing the area fat was removed from (my stomach) and the area the fat was transferred to. It was certainly less invasive than I had feared, and I was back working from home in less than a week.
The AEDITION: When did you see results from the procedure?
Joanne: I saw results pretty instantly after the swelling started going down. I would say it took a couple of months to see the full results, and I was so pleased with how everything was looking. I was surprised at how quickly the little scars healed, and I can barely see them at all now. I don’t think anyone else would notice them. They’re very tiny.
The AEDITION: Have the results lasted as you hoped?
Joanne: They have, but I had a surgeon who is a total realist! He explained how much the results would change over the months after surgery as my body adapted to the graft. We considered that when planning on how much fat to transfer, and I prefer the results now that some of the ‘fullness’ has gone. It was an amazing experience watching my body change over the months as it adapted, but things seem to have settled now and the graft area isn’t changing much anymore. I’m so happy with how smooth it looks.
Medically speaking, there is nothing wrong with hip dips. Aesthetically speaking, those with ‘violin hips’ may wish to address them. While fat transfer provides the most natural means of improving the contour of the hips, not everyone is a candidate. Hip implants and fillers (namely, Sculptra®) are alternatives, but it is important to consult with a board certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon who specializes in these sorts of treatments to ensure you receive the safest and most effective treatment plan for your specific needs.
*Patient's name has been changed
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