beauty

In case you're wondering, here's everything that's involved in a Brazilian Butt Lift.

Whether you want to thank the curves of the Kardashians, Nicki Minaj, social media or a combo of all three, there's no denying our culture currently has a big obsession with one thing: Bums. 

While some will argue that the butt fad has been a thing ever since Jennifer Lopez hit the scene, there's no denying that sculpting and enhancing your bum through the magic of cosmetic surgery has become bigger and more popular than ever.

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Video via Mamamia.

According to the annual report by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, while nearly every cosmetic procedure was less popular in 2020 than 2019 (cause, global pandemic), butt implants were on the rise. 

INTERESTING. While many of us were sitting on our bums, some of us were busy getting bigger ones.

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And while procedures like anti-wrinkle injections (down 13 per cent) and breast implants (down 33 per cent) saw a drop, butt implants (the silicone type) increased by a whopping 22 per cent. 

But, it's not all about silicone implants anymore. 

Thanks to the ever evolving technologies and techniques in plastic surgery, you can now increase the size and shape of your bum with fat injections (or fat grafting) - which is a process known as the 'Brazilian Butt Lift' (BBL).

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The same ASPS report shared that in the US, close to 22,000 people had butt augmentation via the BBL fat grafting technique in 2020, compared to around 1,200 people who had silicone butt implants. 

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That's... a lot of bigger bums.

And it's not just in the US that the BBL procedure is booming. In Australia, it's one of the fastest growing segments.

Recently, reality star Cathy Evans from Married At First Sight documented her "mini BBL" procedure on Instagram, proving just how 'normal' these kinds of surgical procedures have become.

In an Instagram post that showed her recovering on the bed stomach down, the 28-year-old wrote: "Those who said ‘it’s not that bad’, ‘it’s a piece of cake’, were lying through their teeth!" 

Image: Instagram/@summertanx 

In another Instagram post she said, "I’m super swollen right now so my face looks quite f**ked and I can only sleep on my stomach. My neck is killing so I can’t really do anything about this discomfort but I’m getting by. I am in quite a bit of pain and very limited in movement and I’m very wet from the leaking."

Sounds... intense.

Image: Instagram/@summertanx 

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Her surgeon, Dr Joseph Waelchli, also shared her surgical treatment on Instagram, posting a video detailing the full procedure and how he wanted to create "an improved buttock and hip shape", before posting before and after photos of Cathy’s results shortly after.

Image: Instagram/@drjosephwaelchl 

Image: Instagram/@drjosephwaelchli

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Image: Instagram/@drjosephwaelchli 

However, along with being one of the fastest growing procedures in the world, the BBL procedure is also reported to be one of the most dangerous procedures, with a mounting number of deaths associated with the staggering rise. 

To find out more about the ins and outs of this increasingly popular cosmetic procedure, we spoke to cosmetic surgeon Dr Hud Obaidi, the liposuction and fat transfer specialist at Cosmetic Avenue, and asked him everything we need to know about the Brazilian Butt Lift.

What is a Brazilian Butt Lift?

"A Brazilian Butt Lift is a cosmetic procedure that adds fullness to the buttocks which is accomplished by using liposuction to harvest fat from specific areas of the body and then injecting it into the buttocks," explains Dr Obaidi.

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So, basically the procedure uses a combination of liposuction and fat-grafting to add volume, defined curves, and a lift to the bum. In effect, it's pretty much a two-for-one kind of deal - removing fat from places where you don’t want it and injecting it where you do. 

Why has the Brazilian Butt Lift become so popular?

In 2021, Instagram and other social media platforms are absolutely swamped with people who have a Kardashian-esque derriere. 

Big bums mean big business, and according to Dr Obaidi, "BBL is the fastest-growing cosmetic surgery in the world." 

And there's no doubt the influence of celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez and Cardi B, alongside a surplus of filtered imagery on social media has contributed to the recent popularity of BBL.

But, just how popular is the procedure?

"The number of butt lifts performed globally has grown by 77.6 per cent, according to a recent survey by the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery," said Dr Obaidi.

What does the procedure involve? 

"Usually, a general anesthesia is used for a BBL surgery. It is a day surgery procedure usually taking approximately two to three hours. It all depends on the amount of the fat that is being harvested," said Dr Obaidi.

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A BBL starts with "power assisted" liposuction, where a surgeon will harvest fat out of specific areas of the body - such as the abdomen or lower back.

"Then, the harvested fat is washed and injected under the skin with specific technique until the desired size and shape has been achieved."

The liposuction and fat grafting process usually involves a few very small incisions, that are closed up with stitches at the end.

Who is a good candidate for a BBL?

According to Dr Obaidi, "The most important consideration is to ensure there is enough fat to harvest."

Some patients may not have enough excess body fat for a BBL procedure, which means they may not suitable for the procedure. 

"If you do not have enough fat to harvest, you may not be a good candidate for BBL. Also, it is necessary to have healthy skin laxity on the buttocks."

Obviously your cosmetic surgeon will look at your fat stores and other areas for grafting before giving you the go ahead.

"The right candidates for the Brazilian Butt Lift will be assessed during the consultation."

What's the recovery like?

"After the procedure you will have some overall discomfort and swelling. Patients should wear a specific garment for six weeks and try their best to not sit down for at least two weeks." 

The fat takes time to settle, and sometimes not all of the fat injection into the buttocks 'takes'. To optimise the amount of fat that survives in the body, Dr Obaidi said the patient must refrain from putting too much pressure on their buttocks.

"After this time they can sit down on a special pillow provided by the cosmetic avenue to shift their weight pressure on their thighs rather than the buttocks, which will improve the fat survival rate," he explains.

"We also recommend patients to start lymphatic drainage massage after seven days which can help with recovery."

Why do we see so many complications associated with BBL?

While it's known as one of the most popular surgical procedures in the world, the Brazilian Butt Lift is also known as the most dangerous - and it has been shrouded in controversy.

In 2017, an aesthetic task force reported that BBLs have the highest death rate of any aesthetic procedure, with a 1 in 3,000 mortality rate. Three per cent of plastic surgeons who performed the procedure had a patient die.

However, a recent survey published in 2020 in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal, has shown this rate has now been reduced to 1 in 14,952, when performed by a board-certified plastic surgeon.

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"All surgeries have complications and risks involved," said Dr Obaidi. "Due to the popularity of this procedure we see more complications, however a Brazilian Butt Lift may carry fewer risks compared to other surgeries, such as silicone buttock implants."

While the data shows BBL is trending in a positive direction and the death rate has improved (when performed by highly trained plastic surgeons), it's important to realise that there are still some inherent risks and complications associated with the procedure.

So, what kind of risks are we talking about?

According to Dr Obaidi, side effects such as pain and scarring are some of the most common risks associated with BBL. He also said sometimes your buttocks can fail to "take up" the grafted fat, meaning the dream butt does not survive. 

"A certain amount of the fat injected is broken down and absorbed by the body. Some patients may need an additional touch up procedure," said Dr Obaidi.

However, it's not just about the quantity of fat. There are some additional, more serious, risks involved with the injection of the fat.

If the fat is injected too deep or in the wrong area, fat droplets can enter the bloodstream and cause some serious issues, such as pulmonary embolism - which is a blood clot in the lungs. This is often not reversible or treatable. 

"There are specific risks associated with BBL which include: fat fibrosis (hard lumps under the skin), fat necrosis (the fat does not survive in specific areas), skin damage, infection and fat embolism - which can travel to the heart and lungs and can also cause death if the surgeon does not adopt the right technique," said Dr Obaidi.

What should a patient do before considering this procedure?

Dr Obaidi stresses the importance of doing your research before committing to any surgery, saying it is crucial to make sure your surgeon is experienced in this field of aesthetic surgery.

"The patient should research well and familiarise themselves with the surgery and side effects before considering BBL. They should consider an expert surgeon with experience in BBL to avoid having serious side effects such as a fat embolism."

It's also important to keep in mind that a Brazilian Butt Lift isn't the only option for a perkier bum - there's a selection of TGA-approved devices on the market that offer noticeable results, without the surgery and risks.

What's your thoughts on the Brazilian Butt Lift procedure? Share with us in the comment section below.

Feature image: Getty