Kim Kardashian. Jennifer Lopez. Nicki Minaj.
All undeniable icons of this generation—and not just for their career success. Along with their fame, they have helped to bring about a generation obsessed with big butts—the new ideal body type. Other social media influencers and Instagram models have capitalized on this trend, encouraging women to seek out a fuller figures and bigger behinds, often through cosmetic surgery.
The popularity of butt augmentation has skyrocketed, says Dr. Gary Vela, a plastic surgeon with Belcara Health. “Since 2000, we have seen a 250 percent increase in popularity. There was even a drastic 26 percent increase from 2015 to 2016,” he says. No surprise, Vela credits the boom in big-sized booties to social media — especially growing interest in Brazilian butt lifts.
Brazilian butt lifts, commonly referred to as BBLs, have reached peak popularity right along with social media mentions. When a patient receives a BBL, a surgeon takes fat from other areas of their body, such as their hips, arms and stomach, and injects it into the deep muscle in their buttock area. The result is a larger buttocks, and smaller waist and hip area.
More and more surgeons are attempting to perform BBLs, despite the shockingly high mortality rate associated with the procedure.
“The rate of mortality with this procedure is the highest of any cosmetic plastic surgery procedure,” Vela says.
Recently, the Multi-Society Task Force for Safety in Gluteal Fat Grafting said that complications from BBLs may be killing as many as 1 in 3,000 people. In comparison, abdominal plastic surgery has a mortality rate of about 1 in 13,000, Vela says.
Many of these procedures are conducted by untrained or non-board-certified surgeons. They inject fat too far into the skin, entering muscle, and causing fatalities. Last year, the task force concluded that fat injections into the deep muscle “should be avoided.”
The practice is risky because injecting fat into the muscle can cause fat to travel to the heart, leading to death, Vela explains.
Luckily, there are other ways to achieve a lifted and shapely figure. Butt implants and liposuction are just some of the safer options available for patients. Dr. Vela stresses, however, that patients should only have procedures done by board-certified and professional doctors. Additionally, he suggests that patients and doctors have conversations about expectations. While other procedures might not provide the exact same look or feel as a BBLs, safety trumps all.
“Patients and doctors need to be open with each other about the expectations for the procedure,” he says. “Sometimes it may take more than one appointment to get the look the patient desires, but it will be ultimately safer.”
Exercise is also another option for individuals who would like to lift their buttocks area without surgical help.
“When both parties are happy and the procedure is safe, that is the best case scenario and what we strive for with each patient,” Vela says.
Read more about gluteal fat grafting at nih.gov.
And now, off to do some squats …