With celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Nicki Minaj showing off their shapely behinds, it’s no wonder that the Brazilian Butt Lift is rising in popularity, with the incidence of butt augmentation using fat grafting rising by 26% in 2016 alone.

Here in South Africa, like much of the Western world, the focus has always been on the size and the shape of the breasts, with breast augmentation being one of the most popular and most requested procedures. However, in Brazil, the focus is very much on the opposite, with a beautiful, pert bottom being much more highly prized than large breasts. It makes sense, then, that the ‘Father of the Butt Lift’, Ivo Pitanguy, is Brazilian.

Brazilian Butt LiftBrazilian Butt Lift before-after

Image by Dr Constantino Mendieta

This fascination with a full, rounded derriere is spreading, and the popularity of the Brazilian Butt Lift is increasing, some of which is as a result of the hype surrounding well-endowed celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Nicki Minaj. Interestingly, the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons dubbed 2015 as ‘the year of the rear’ and the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery named the Brazilian Butt Lift as one of the fastest growing cosmetic procedures in 2016.

But what exactly is a Brazilian Butt Lift?

The Brazilian Butt Lift (also known as buttock fat grafting) is a procedure that involves the removal of excess fat from one part of your body by means of gentle liposuction. This fat is then purified and injected into other areas of the body to enhance them. In this case, fat is injected into the buttocks, but it can also be injected into the breasts or the face to enhance your cheeks or fill out hollows underneath your eyes.

Since the procedure involves utilising your own fat stores, many refer to this as ‘natural plastic surgery’. Many plastic surgeons are opting for fat grafting procedures over implants, as it is a more bio-compatible method. The chances of your body rejecting the tissue are zero, since the fat cells are from your own body.

That said, there are several procedures available to patients who are interested in enhancing the size and shape of their buttocks:

  • Implants. This can be done in one of two ways: sub-muscular (the implant is placed underneath the muscle) or sub-fascial (the implant is placed under the fascia).
  • Auto-augmentation. In the case of patients who have undergone massive weight loss.
  • Fat grafting. This is the most popular option, and is also known as a Brazilian Butt Lift.
Which procedure is right for me?

Implants are the best option for patients who have a small frame with little fat, or for patients with a moderate frame that don’t have enough fat. The most common complication for patients getting implants is wound dehiscence, which is when a wound ruptures along the incision. The risk of wound dehiscence is highest for those with a large frame, with the chance of wound dehiscence rising from 12% for those with a small frame to 80% for patients with an extra-large frame. In these instances, fat grafting would be the best options.

The procedure

The surgeon begins by extracting fat cells from excess deposits in your thighs, abdomen, or your lower back via liposuction. Your surgeon will process and purify the fat, before transferring it into the buttocks with syringes and cannulas. This process involves a lot of moving around and can take a considerable amount of time.

What to expect during your recovery time

Recovering from the Brazilian Butt Lift can be more demanding than many other liposuction procedures. Along with tenderness, bruising, and swelling in the areas used to harvest the fat cells, you can also expect swelling and bruising of your buttocks.

It’s vital to keep pressure off your buttocks for at least 8 weeks after getting a Brazilian Butt Lift. You won’t be allowed to sit at all for 10 days after the procedure. You’ll then need to sit with a pillow underneath the upper part of your legs until 8 weeks post-op. You can use a modified chair as an alternative. You’ll also need to sleep on your stomach for the first two weeks.

You’ll need to wear a compression garment for 4 – 6 weeks. This will help to minimise swelling and encourage the skin to retract. It will also ensure that the areas where the fat was harvested heal properly.

You’ll be able to show off the final results after about 6 months.

What are the complications?

There are a number of risks that you’ll need to take into consideration. These include hematomas, seromas and oil cysts, fat necrosis, and infections which are relatively straight forward to sort out. Since fat is naturally absorbed into the body, you may find that some fat is absorbed unevenly. This could lead to an asymmetrical end result that may require additional injection sessions to even things out.

With that in mind, it’s always best to set up a consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon. This will give you the opportunity to chat through your options and your candidacy. One thing is for sure: when this procedure is done on the right candidate by a highly skilled and qualified surgeon, the results are spectacular!