Brazilian Buttlift: separating fact from fiction

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Brazilian buttlifting is the hot cosmetic procedure du jour.  It has obtained an almost mythical status in pop culture thanks largely due to Kim Kardashian and the expansion of Latin culture into western culture.  According to the ASPS, procedures involving the BUTT have increased 252% since 2000.  There are three ways to improve the aesthetics of the butt:  with fat (BBL), with silicone implants similar to breast augmentation, and through buttock lifting via skin removal.  This article focuses on the use of fat.

So what is a Brazilian Buttlift and how does it work?  First of all, let’s start with the name.  This may come as a shock but it actually has nothing to do with Brazil nor was it invented in Brazil.  In 1996, Dr. Leonard Grossman, M.D. performed liposuction and subsequent fat transfer to the buttocks live on television, and the patient just happened to be from Brazil. The show was titled “Building the Brazilian Butt.”  The nickname stuck and the rest is history.

A BBL is two procedures wrapped in one.  Liposuction is used to remove fat from areas of excess.  The fat is then re-injected into the buttocks.  Most surgeons inject this fat both below the gluteus maximus muscle (submuscular) and just beneath the skin (subcutaneous) to fill and expand the buttocks.  Like breast implantation, there is no real lift (like a mastopexy) or actual buttock lift where skin is removed.  The increased volume can, in some cases, create some semblance of a “lift.”

Who are the ideal candidates for a BBL?  Like liposuction, the skin elasticity of the areas of fat harvest needs to be good to avoid contour irregularities and worsened skin laxity.  I find that women who have had multiple babies or significant weight changes are not ideal candidates.  I almost always combine fat grafting with a tummy tuck or abdominoplasty.  If you look carefully at before and after pictures of BBLs online, surgeons will rarely show a frontal or anterior view of the abdomen, but simply side or posterior views.  This is because the skin is often deformed with contour irregularities.  I perform a lot of tummy tucks to fix bad BBL results for this reason.  Another thing to keep is mind is that overaggressive liposuction and subsequent overstuffing of the butt can lead to ugly results in the long run.  I have seen many a skinny girl with wrinkly, damaged skin and bulbous butts that are too big for their frames.  Like breast implants that are too big, an overstuffed butt will sag and drop and morph into the dreaded Walmart butt with subsequent aging.  I have yet to see a long-term study or pictures of BBL patients.  There is a reason for this. 

A BBL is a great procedure when used on the right patients and performed in a conservative manner.  Please don’t chase some cartoonish, overinflated result.  You will regret it. 

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Charlotte Plastic Surgeon