A Brazilian butt lift (BBL) is a surgery where a doctor transfers fat from your belly, hips, lower back, or thighs to your buttocks. The result is more of an hourglass-shaped figure, with larger buttocks. It's not an actual "lift" because it doesn't try to raise your buttocks. Instead, it increases volume. A BBL can give you a smaller-looking waist if the fat comes from your belly or lower back.
It's a two-step procedure. Doctors remove the fat using liposuction. This is a cosmetic procedure that sucks out fat with a small plastic tube called a cannula. Then the fat is injected into the buttock area.
You might hear your doctor call this operation gluteal fat grafting, buttock augmentation with fat grafting, and safe subcutaneous buttock augmentation (SSBA). Some people have what's called a "skinny BBL" because they don't have enough fat on their bodies. The doctor may remove it from other areas of the body or have them gain weight before the procedure. If you don't have enough fat on your body, using fat from a donor is not a safe option.
A Brazilian butt lift can be risky and even fatal but is considered safer than other procedures to change how your buttocks look. In recent years, surgeons have changed the way they do it, to make it safer.
A BBL is a semi-permanent procedure. The results can last for years and even more than a decade. Maintaining your weight can help the results last.
Why People Get a Brazilian Butt Lift (BBL)
The BBL is popular with some people because it can enhance the shape and size of the buttocks without the use of implants. At the same time, it removes fat from your midsection, where you may not want it anyway.
How your buttocks look is mostly determined by genetics. As much as you tone the area by exercising, your buttocks still may appear flat. People get a BBL for a number of reasons, including to change how clothes fit, reduce fat pockets, balance their figure, or improve self-esteem.
If you want to change how your rear looks, you may choose this procedure because it's safer than getting implants, plus it gives you more natural-looking effects.
How Common Are Brazilian Butt Lifts (BBLs)?
BBLs are popular, and people keep getting them despite safety warnings. In the U.S., they're most common in Florida.
In 2020, doctors performed 21,823 BBLs. That is down from 28,076 in 2019, but the decrease could be because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the U.S., there were 61,387 butt augmentations (that includes BBLs and implants) in 2021, up 37% from the year before.
Who Can Get a Brazilian Butt Lift (BBL)?
You may be a good candidate for a Brazilian butt lift if you:
- Are in generally good health
- Have extra fat that can be transferred to the buttocks
- Want larger, rounder-looking buttocks
- Can avoid sitting on your butt for several weeks after surgery
- Can avoid sleeping on your back for several weeks after surgery
Brazilian Butt Lift (BBL) vs. Butt Implants
A buttock implant is a silicone object placed in the area to enhance it. It is different from a BBL, which uses fat from your own body to make your buttocks look larger and rounder.
Buttock implants may carry more risks than getting a BBL. You can get capsular contracture. This is when the scar tissue that forms around implants normally becomes too hard and starts to contract. In some cases, this can cause pain or problems with how the implant looks.
Implants also have a higher risk of infection after surgery. But buttock implants might be a good option for people who don't have enough extra fat to transfer for a successful Brazilian butt lift.
Brazilian Butt Lift Cost
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) reports that the average cost for a BBL is $4,807. This doesn't include other fees like anesthesia, facility costs, and post-surgery garments and medicines. Prices can vary widely for a variety of reasons, including where you live.
What Happens During a Brazilian Butt Lift (BBL) Surgery?
When you go in for BBL surgery, the doctor will give you anesthesia so you're not awake and won't feel any pain during the procedure.
The first part of the surgery involves liposuction. They'll attach a thin metal hose (cannula) to a suction device. Then they'll make small cuts in areas of your body where they want to take fat from. They'll put the cannula into the fat between your skin and muscle. Next, they suck out the fat.
After they remove the fat, they'll purify it by removing excess fluid so only fat cells go back in.
The second part of the procedure is putting the purified fat into your buttocks. The doctor will make small cuts around your buttock area. Then they'll inject the purified fat into your butt. Most of it will go into the upper area of your butt.
Finally, they'll stitch up areas where they made cuts.
They'll wrap up the affected areas with a compression band. This helps reduce bleeding. When you wake up, you may be groggy and sore.
Brazilian Butt Lift (BBL) Recovery
After getting a BBL, it is important to follow the recovery instructions from your doctor closely. If you don't, you risk killing the transferred fat cells. (Your body will absorb 20% to 40% of the injected fat as it heals.) Following directions after surgery can help you get the results you want.
Directly after surgery. You can expect bruising and swelling in the area where fat was removed with liposuction. It may be hard to move around for the first few days after the surgery, but it's important to get up and walk around. This will help with the overall recovery process. It will also help to prevent constipation that can be caused by some narcotic painkillers. You may also notice some bloody fluid leaking from the cuts your surgeon made. This is normal.
Pain relief. Your doctor may give you a prescription medicine, or you may opt for an over-the-counter pain reliever. The pain should ease up after 1 to 2 weeks.
Your compression garment. For 8 weeks after the surgery, you will likely need to wear a compression garment over the areas you had liposuction. This helps with the healing process. Any garment your surgeon gives you will typically have a cut-out for the buttocks. This prevents pressure on the newly inserted fat cells.
No sitting. After getting a BBL, it's very important to avoid sitting on your butt for at least 2 weeks – maybe up to 8 weeks. Sitting on your butt can kill the fat cells or leave indentations, leading to a less-than-desirable outcome.
If you do have to sit down, you must use a special pillow. Your doctor may provide one or recommend one to get. For the first 8 weeks, you should only sit on the pillow. You'll want to avoid sitting in the same position for long periods of time. This may affect how you work, especially if you are at a desk much of the day. You may opt for a standing desk so you can return to work sooner.
Sleep on your side or stomach. You should also sleep on your stomach or side for the first 8 weeks after surgery to avoid killing fat cells.
Your activity levels. For the first month after surgery, you shouldn't do much. You should particularly avoid any activity that involves bouncing. After a month, you can then begin lower-impact activities like walking.
After 2-3 months, you can usually resume any activities you enjoy, including high-impact ones. Always check in with your doctor before starting to add in activity.
Brazilian Butt Lift (BBL) Complications
Any surgery comes with risk. The risks of a Brazilian butt lift include fat being injected too deeply, leading to fat embolization. This is a condition where fat gets into your bloodstream and travels to your heart or lungs, blocking arteries or veins. Some other risks are:
- Infection after surgery
- Changes to skin sensation, including numbness
- Loose skin, particularly where liposuction was performed
- Skin discoloration
In recent years, medical professionals have raised awareness about the dangers of BBLs. One report had the death rate at one person dying for every 3,000 procedures done. That's many more than for any other cosmetic surgery. One way to make them safer is to inject the fat tissue above the gluteal muscle. This is important so the fat doesn't get into blood vessels and cause a fat embolization. This makes the operation technically challenging, which could be one reason for increased complications.
You can lower the risk of complications after a Brazilian butt lift by researching doctors thoroughly. Choose a board-certified surgeon who has done many successful BBLs. Ask for before-and-after pictures from your surgeon. Make sure the surgery will happen at an accredited surgery center or hospital.
How to Choose a Surgeon for a Brazilian Butt Lift (BBL)
If you're considering a BBL, you'll need to start by finding a surgeon. Because of the safety concerns, it's important to choose a board-certified plastic surgeon with experience in BBLs specifically. The doctor needs to understand the patient's anatomy and also has to have experience with liposuction and fat transfer.
Here are a few tips to find a good plastic surgeon:
- Find out how many procedures they've performed.
- Ask for before-and-after photos of patients they've worked on.
- See if they're certified by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery.
- Learn about where they perform surgeries, and if the facility is accredited.
- Consider how you feel around the staff and the doctor.
- Read online reviews from several reliable sources.
- Use search tools from the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery or ASPS.