American Society of Plastic Surgeons
For Medical Professionals

Buttock augmentation with fat grafting – aka the Brazilian butt lift

Buttock augmentation is one of the fastest growing cosmetic surgical procedures performed by board-certified plastic surgeons, according to 2016 Annual Statistics. Buttock augmentation with fat grafting—also known as a "Brazilian butt lift"—has increased 26% between 2016 and 2015, while augmentation with implants increased 18% over the same period.

Buttock augmentation with fat grafting

During this procedure, a surgeon removes fat from an area where it's not wanted—such as the abdomen or thighs—and places it into the buttocks. Essentially, this is a combination of liposuction AND buttock augmentation. While these numbers are not as high as those performed for breast augmentation, it does help to explain why it is one of the fastest growing cosmetic procedures today. In properly skilled hands, it is not just about increasing the size of the butt, but also about obtaining a shapelier butt, and recontouring the entire torso, including the waist, abdomen, and thighs.

As Dr. Sacha Obaid, a board-certified plastic surgeon and ASPS member states, "What we are seeing is that American culture is finally expanding its concept of beauty. Twenty years ago there was one way to be pretty in America and that was to be as skinny as possible. Now, we are finally starting to embrace that there are lots of ways to stand out, and one of the fastest growing ways is with a fuller, rounder butt!"

What is involved?

During your Brazilian butt lift procedure, a surgeon will harvest fat from areas where you have excess such as the abdomen, thighs, upper back (aka "bra rolls") or arms. The right spots are going to depend on each patient's individual needs. By removing fat from certain areas such as the abdomen and placing it into the buttocks, a surgeon can restore harmony to a patient's body, accentuate the waist, and re-contour the entire torso. The end result is typically a narrower waist, a shapelier buttock and hip, and a sexier figure. When a patient comes in for a Brazilian butt lift consultation, a surgeon should examine him or her from a 360-degree perspective, determining the best places for adding and subtracting fat in order to get the patient closer to his or her desired body. It is not a one-size-fits-all approach.

The butt in the spotlight

Though celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, Beyoncé, and Jennifer Lopez may have started the trend of emphasizing the buttocks, it has quickly spread across age and ethnic lines. Our Brazilian butt lift patients range significantly in age, and we have even seen patients in their 60's. Similarly, patient weight ranges vary widely. However, excellent results can by achieved regardless of age or body type.

Choose wisely

The specifics of a given patient's areas of liposuction, and the details of the buttock augmentation are based on the patient's desired versus existing body size and shape, areas of existing fat, and soft tissue quality. Preoperative visualization and surgical simulation with the Crisalix system may help with decision making. Any treatment plan should be based on a detailed discussion with equal input from both the patient and his or her surgeon. Patients should be sure to specifically look at before and after pictures of real patients who have had this surgery performed by the surgeon and evaluate their results. The most important aspect is to find a plastic surgeon with significant experience performing the procedure. We always recommend that a patient seek consultation in person with a qualified board-certified plastic surgeon, operating in a certified ambulatory surgery center or hospital operating room.

Risks and safety

As with any surgical procedure, there are associated risks. With regard to a Brazilian butt lift, patients should have some specific considerations:

  • Blood clots / pulmonary emboli: Blood clots in the legs can move to the heart or lungs and result in serious complications, including death. Patients should be evaluated for any pre-existing risk for forming blood clots, and appropriate prophylaxis should be performed.
  • Infection: Surgical infections are always a risk, especially in the setting of large-volume fat transfer like a Brazilian butt lift. It is important to use meticulous sterile technique, and all patients receive appropriate antibiotic prophylaxis.
  • Sensation changes: Any area that is operated on will swell and swelling can cause nerves to stop functioning or function poorly. Sometimes nerves even have to be cut in the course of the surgery. This results in numbness, which is usually temporary, but could in some cases remain permanently. Patients just need to be aware of this before surgery because there is no remedy if sensation or nerve function does not come back on its own. Sometimes this is the price you pay for beauty!
  • Poor wound healing/scarring: Wounds are closed nicely at the time of surgery, but if the stitches pop, the scar can widen or look bad. Thankfully the incisions for a Brazilian butt lift are very small, but there is still potential for scarring.
  • Contour irregularities: When we fat is moved from one area to another there is the potential to have some asymmetry. This means either excess fullness, or possible indentations and asymmetry between the buttocks. Your surgeon will have very specific instructions on activity level, position to sleep in, and compression garments. Follow his/her instructions for the best results!
  • Fat embolism: There is potential for the fat that is injected to get into the blood stream and travel to other organs (lungs, brain, etc.). This is more likely to happen if fat is injected into muscle, it is injected under unusually high pressures, or if very small cannulas are used. Talk to your surgeon about the technique he or she uses.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.


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