Fashionistas Turn to Surgery to Rid 'Boot Bulge'

PHOTO: Two women wearing boots stand in autumn leaves.Getty Images
Two women wearing boots stand in autumn leaves.

Temperatures are falling and fashionistas everywhere are putting away their strappy sandals and pulling out their knee-high boots.

For women whose larger calf size makes it impossible to zip up those tight-fitting boots, there's a plastic surgery procedure growing in popularity to fight that dreaded "boot bulge."

"It's definitely a thing," said Dr. Matthew Schulman, a board certified plastic surgeon on New York City's Upper East Side, "especially this time of year when some women aren't able to wear the boots they want."

That was the case for Sabrina, who lives in New York City and asked that her last name not be used.

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"I'm a fairly fit person, I always exercise. It wasn't an area I could fix on my own," she said. "I assumed that if you could have liposuction on your stomach, why not on your calves?" Sabrina had her surgery last year.

Schulman said that unhappiness with legs -- specifically from the knee down -- is common among his patients.

But it's a very difficult area to treat.

"If the woman is an avid bike rider or runner and it's all muscle, the procedure isn't possible. There has to be at least a little fat there to perform the procedure."

The patient is put under anesthesia for the procedure, which takes between an hour and hour and half, Schulman said.

"It's a tricky procedure," he said, "you're using microliposuction to take out very small amounts of fat."

The recovery time, too, is a factor. Schulman said it can take up to 10 months to be fully recovered from calf liposuction, though most women are about 85 percent recovered after four or five months. A woman who gets the procedure done this fall won't be in her tight fitting, knee-high boots until next year.

That's fine for Dyan, a woman from Long Island whose unhappy to be facing yet another boot season with calves too big to fit into the fashion-forward kind she wants to wear. "I've purchased $200 boots and taken them to a shoe maker to have an extra panel of leather sewn in but it doesn't look the same and I ended up throwing them out," she said. Dyan said she gained weight when her father passed away and while she's lost some, it's been mostly in her upper body.

"I'm determined to do this," she said. Dyan's planning her calf lipsocution for this fall.

If Dyan were to ask Sabrina, she'd get an enthusiastic endorsement for the operation. "I couldn't be happier," she said. "I got a few pairs of stretch Stuart Weitzmans."