Despite the risk, the Brazilian butt lift trend persists

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Key results

  • The Brazilian Butt Lift (BBL), inspired by social media, is one of the fastest growing beauty treatments in the world.
  • BBL uses fat transfer technology to remove fat cells from body parts and inject them into the buttocks to create a fuller appearance.
  • In recent years, death rates from BBL have declined among board-certified plastic surgeons, but some surgeons can practice without the proper qualifications or training.

Mila's family in the Middle East has always praised round hips and a narrow waist. According to her, her own body did not live up to these ideals and was consumed by insecurity.

"I was depressed," Mila, whose name was changed for privacy reasons, told Get Meds Info. "I was not satisfied with myself and who I was becoming, and there was nothing I could do about it."

Mila lives in California and her family is from Afghanistan.

'There are belly dancers in our culture, and they are naturally exuberant, and everyone loves them for it; they admire him, ”says Mila. But there is another aspect of my culture: "There is no surgery." If you were born with this, great. If not, then this is your loss. You do not have it ".

And in Mila's eyes this was not the case.

Mila adds that diet and exercise have proven useless against biology. When the unplanned weight gain caused her self-esteem to decline, she decided that the desired shape could only be achieved by surgery.

So she sought advice on a Brazilian butt lift (BBL) procedure in Beverly Hills without informing her family.

BBL is one of the fastest growing beauty treatments, thanks to social media influencers, and is known for its ability to reshape a person's body so that their buttocks appear larger. But the procedure can be expensive and risky. A 2017 study from the Cosmetic Surgery Education and Research Foundation (ASERF) found that about 1 in 6,000 BBLs ended in death. ASERF reported that after recommending safer surgical techniques, the risk of death dropped to 1 in 14,952.

What is BBL?

The Brazilian Butt Lift (BBL) or Butt Lift is a routine cosmetic procedure that uses liposuction and fat transfer technologies to shrink a person's waist and enlarge the buttock.

Specifically, the surgeon will use liposuction to remove fat from one or more parts of the patient's body (around the abdomen, thighs, or thighs) and then process the fat to remove debris and dead cells before injecting it into the buttock. of the patient. square.

When Mila finally revealed her plan to her parents, she was about to leave for the operation. To his surprise, they supported his decision. Her father, whom Mila described as "old school," offered to drive her to a meeting and built gadgets to help her feel comfortable afterward.

"I'll take you," Mila remembers her father's words. "And I think he really said, 'Don't make yourself look like Kim Kardashian."

He has yet to tell his large family about his transformation. But almost three months after the operation, she feels confident and happy in her own skin.

"I just fit into my culture," he adds. "Now I am that voluptuous, curvy body."

BBL's growing popularity

Saul Lahidjani, MD, a senior plastic surgeon at the Beverly Hills Institute of Plastic Surgery who performed Mila's BBL, began using BBL in his practice about eight years ago, primarily due to the influence of social media and advancements in the fat transfer technology.

"This is a social media and TV phenomenon," Lanhijani told Get Meds Info. 'A lot more people are asking for this and they want to look like an hourglass. Curvature, waist, hips ".

The general appearance of the BBL is a smaller waist and a larger buttock, but the magnitude of these changes depends on the person's natural body. "You have to see the canvas that you start from, where you can take this body," says Lanhijani.

Johnny Franco, MD, FACS, an Austin-based plastic surgeon and a member of the Realself advisory board, says that social media influencers pretty much dictate what patients look for on BBL.

According to Franco, the current trend is to have a big butt that does not fit your body. People who want this look can be asked for an "athletic BBL" or a "slim BBL."

"The vast majority of them are just trying to improve the way they already have, they are not trying to change who they are," adds Franco.

To determine what body type the patient needs and how realistic it is during surgery, ask patients to bring 'wish photos' for consultation. In the past four to five years, fewer patients have brought in photos of celebrities like Kim Kardashian, who was suspected but not confirmed to have a BBL . More and more people were showing him photos of influencers on social media or their "Instagram hobbies."

"Lean" when you have fat

Unlike butt implants, which are generally made from synthetic materials like silicone, BBLs use the patient's own fat, which surgeons say could lead to a more natural result.

Butt implants generally need to be removed or replaced every 10 years. But the fat cells that are transferred to the BBL remain in that area for three months after surgery, Lanhijani says. Fat can still change in size if a person loses or gains weight, but it remains in the same place.

How much does BBL cost?

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons , in 2020, the average cost of a BBL is $ 4,807. People who want more extreme results may have to undergo multiple surgeries, further adding to the cost.

BBLs can be life threatening. If fat is misplaced within or below the muscle area, it can cause pulmonary adipose tissue thromboembolism (PFE) , in which fat cells enter the circulatory system and the heart and lungs, which can lead to immediate death.

In 2017, BBL had a significantly higher death rate than any other cosmetic surgery of the time. A year later, ASERF issued recommendations to improve the safety of surgery, including warnings to place fat only on the skin layer and not on the muscles.

Although the death rate has since declined among BBLs performed by board-certified plastic surgeons, some surgeons are able to practice without proper training or qualifications, according to Vox .

Are there alternatives to BBL?

Due to safety risks, some experts have not recommended surgery or suggested non-surgical alternatives to buttock augmentation.

Inside Bodybuilding Certified Personal Trainer Jack Craig says his clients often try to sculpt their bodies to meet today's beauty standards. He recommends focusing on glute building exercises using techniques like squats, deadlifts, thighs, and glute bridges rather than doing BBL.

"The great thing about growing your glutes naturally is that the results are easy and profitable to maintain," says Craig. "What's more, the health risk is probably very low."

But sometimes training is not enough. Several doctors advised Mile to diet and exercise without realizing her fears.

"It was so painful to leave other consultations feeling judged," she says.

Johnny Franco, MD, FACS

If people are not in a good mood, if they are not doing it for the right reasons, it can lead to frustration and frustration.

– Johnny Franco, MD, FACS

Emotional red flags for BBL

Franco says he and his team use initial consultations to look for red flags when patients may be searching for BBL for "the wrong reasons."

"Sometimes we have patients after a difficult breakup or divorce," says Franco. 'Sometimes the feeling comes up:' I need to change so that someone else loves me. '

He often asks patients about their motivation for BBL during consultations to make sure they are realistic about their surgery.

Some patients may have problems with body dysmorphic disorder , a condition in which a person is dissatisfied with their body and does not see their body the way others see it.

Studies have shown that body dysmorphic disorder is more common in patients who have undergone cosmetic surgery than in the general population.

"If people are not in a good mood, if they are not doing it for the right reasons, it can lead to frustration and disappointment," says Franco.

BBL Trend can be here for a long time

Franco doesn't think BBL is leaving anytime soon.

"The idea of improving the form and improving the figures will not disappear," says Franco. 'Fat transfer is just one tool that we will only improve in terms of how to make it predictable, safe and successful. I think we will continue to do more in the future. "

For Mila, the rise in popularity of BBL is encouraging. The BBL standardization will give you the opportunity to own your operation and proudly reveal your new body to your large family.

'Nobody wants to live a fake life, ”Mila says, adding that she is very interested in sharing her experiences with her community.

"I know there are other girls who are going through the same thing as me," she adds. "I hope this happens soon."

What does this mean to you

BBL is an increasingly popular butt augmentation cosmetic surgery. Some people have good experience with this procedure, but it carries a safety risk. If you plan to have a BBL, consult with your surgeon about the risks and set realistic expectations.

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