A Brazilian butt lift (BBL) is a cosmetic surgery procedure that provides a larger shape and size to the buttocks. The desire to have a larger backside has often been inspired by celebrities, including Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez, who proudly show off their booty at red carpet events and other public gatherings A 2020 survey by the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery showed that the number of butt lifts performed around the world had grown by 77.6% since 2015. Even though BBL surgery has grown in popularity, there are still some concerns about the procedure and its safety. In order to learn if a BBL operation is a safe procedure (or not), it is important to understand how it is performed as well as how it was created.
The origin of the Brazilian butt lift goes back to 1964. Ivo Pitanguy, a Brazilian plastic surgeon, published a paper focused on buttock lift surgery that removed unwanted tissue and skin in order to lessen the appearance of sagging skin. The surgery was not able to add any additional fullness or shape to the butt.
In 1969, Bartels et al documented what is considered to be the first butt augmentation surgery. The procedure made use of a silicone breast implant in order to correct a left buttock that was suffering from atrophy. It was not until 1973 that Cocke and Ricketson were able to document the first case of a cosmetic butt augmentation surgery.
The growth in popularity of liposuction in the 1980s and 1990s resulted in surgeons considering the idea of taking the fat that was removed during liposuction and placing it elsewhere in the body. This idea resulted in the creation of the Brazilian butt lift.
During a BBL procedure, the surgeon uses liposuction to remove fat from another area on the body of the patient (including areas such as the thighs and stomach). The patient needs to have enough excess fat that can be removed in order for the doctor to be able to perform the surgery.
The fat is removed via liposuction and then purified and processed before it is injected back into the body of the patient (in the buttocks). The injected fat settles into the buttocks and provides the desired hourglass shape to the backside.
Once the surgery is performed, and the patient heads home for the recovery period, the patient is required to not sit directly on the butt for a minimum of three weeks. The patient is also not allowed to lay on their back during this time period.
Instead, the patient is allowed to use a special BBL pillow which is designed to elevate the butt while still providing necessary support to the thighs. There are also some patients who will need to wear a special garment that helps to reduce the amount of swelling experienced after the procedure.
There is some concern that arises from the performance of the actual surgery. As recently as 2018, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons released an estimate that the death rate from the performance of Brazilian butt lifts was 1 in 3000. The Society also stated this rate is “a rate of death far greater than any other cosmetic surgery.”
It has also been concluded that deaths from a Brazilian butt lift gone wrong are more than likely caused by damage to the blood vessels during surgery. This damage allows fat to enter into the bloodstream and cause a blood vessel blockage. In turn, this can result in a fat embolism which can prove fatal to a patient.
Steps are being taken to improve safety standards when it comes to having a BBL. In August of 2018, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons created the Task Force for Safety in Gluteal Fat Grafting. The Task Force was created to conduct research into BBL surgery and to form stricter guidelines for the procedure.
There have also been some signs of improvement in the overall BBL death rate. A 2020 study by the Aesthetic Surgery Education and Research Foundation showed an estimated rate of around 1 in 14,952 (if the surgery was performed by a board-certified surgeon).
According to the president of the Aesthetic Surgery Education and Research Foundation, “We have been working to educate surgeons in hopes of improving the BBL mortality rate. We felt it was our responsibility to follow up and see if we’d made an impact – and it turns out, we have.”
Even with the improvements in the overall death rate of patients, there continues to be some concerns when it comes to patients having a Brazilian butt lift. Patients are advised to address any concerns or worries that have about the procedure with their doctor during the consultation appointment. They should also ask to see photos of actual patients treated by the doctor in order to view the type of results they can expect to see after the Brazilian butt lift is performed.