Brazilian Butt Lift (BBL) surgery exploded—no pun intended—sometime around 2016 and the procedure became known for a curvier, more exaggerated aesthetic. The popular procedure involves the transfer of fat from one area of the body to the buttocks to create a shapelier, lifted look. While the results can be dramatic, it’s important to understand the surgery’s risks, benefits, and recovery options before deciding whether to have it. After all, it does have a higher risk of mortality compared to other cosmetic procedures, but surgeons have worked hard to come up with safer techniques. If you are considering a BBL, here are five things to know about what to expect.
The Average BBL Patient Is in Their 30s
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, BBL is most performed on women aged 30 to 39, followed by women aged 20 to 29. The procedure is also more popular among Hispanic and African American women than Caucasians.
Not All the Fat Will Last
The benefits of BBL can be significant for patients who desire a more prominent, shapely buttocks. However, not all the fat injected will survive. According to some studies, the average amount of fat that survives after a BBL procedure is around 60-80 percent, Louisville, KY board certified plastic surgeon Chet Mays, MD tells us. “A lot of times with gluteal augmentation I’ll put the fat back in to create that three-dimensional contour. So, it’s not just what you take away with liposuction, but what you add back. This has changed a lot of plastic surgery in the last few years. We’re not just throwing everything away; we’re using it in other parts of the body.”
You Can’t Ignore the Risks
Like all surgeries, BBL comes with some degree of risk. Some of the potential risks associated with BBL include infection, bleeding, fat embolism, and asymmetry. To minimize these risks, it’s crucial to choose a board-certified plastic surgeon with extensive experience in performing BBL surgeries.
“A fat embolism happens when fat particles enter the bloodstream, blocking blood flow and causing damage to the lungs and other organs and can be fatal,” explains Miami plastic surgeon Adam Rubinstein, MD. “Surgeons should use proper injection techniques, like injecting fat above the muscle with a larger cannula to avoid puncturing large blood.”
In state of Florida, certain measures have been put into place to help minimize risk, like the three BBL a day rule that limits the amount of BBL surgeries a surgeon can perform each day to three. “I think the limits make sense,” says Dr. Rubinstein. “Are they necessary for well-trained surgeons doing good work? No, but government must regulate for the masses, not for the most qualified.”
Healing Time Means Less Sitting
Healing from a BBL can vary depending on the individual patient and the extent of the surgery. In general, patients can expect to experience some swelling, bruising, and discomfort for several weeks after surgery. During this time, patients will need to avoid sitting or lying directly on their buttocks to allow for proper healing.
Dr. Rubinstein believes lymphatic massage facilitates healing and uses a robotic compression therapy system, called Ballancer Pro, before and after the procedure. “You can kind of condition and milk out at the edema before you have your surgery, and then afterwards, you can do the same thing to get rid of that swelling of body limbs that occurs due to a build-up of fluid within the tissues.”
There are BBL Alternatives
While BBL is a highly effective way to enhance the appearance of the buttocks, it is not the only option available. Other procedures, such as butt implants and dermal fillers like Sculptra, can also be used to add volume and contour to the buttocks. “Butt implants are similar to breast augmentation implants but formulated and shaped specifically for the buttocks,” says New York plastic surgeon Roman Rayham, MD. “We can also do a procedure that lifts and tightens the skin without adding anything back in. We can also use liposuction to contour the body and enhance the butt.”