“BBL” is short for Brazilian butt lift, a surgical procedure performed under general anesthesia to increase the size and improve the shape of the buttocks.
The BBL is most often done by women, but men may also have the procedure.
The BBL procedure involves two primary steps, each of which comes with risks that patients should be well aware of.
In the first portion of the procedure, excess fatty tissue is removed from parts of the body (usually the flanks, abdomen, and inner and outer thighs) so that it may then be purified and injected into the buttocks. During this first part of the BBL procedure, the fat is removed through liposuction.
The injection of the harvested healthy fat into the buttocks is then done as a secondary step but during the same surgical session.
Between the two steps, what is accomplished is that one or more areas of the body that previously had a small excess of stubborn fat will now have less of it, and the buttocks—which were previously smaller than the patient desired—will have a newfound fullness and an increased size and projection.
Done well, the results of the surgery can look incredible.
BBL purpose and benefits
Women who chose to have a BBL (Brazilian butt lift) usually desire to do so in order to:
- Reduce or correct the appearance or “hip dips,” wherein the hips are marked by indentation or contour irregularities due to the loss of fatty tissue over time.
- Alter or improve the shape and contours of their lower body.
- Improve the look of their body after giving birth to one or more children, in which case the BBL may be just one part of a “mommy makeover.”
- Enlarge their buttocks
- Create a more sensual and attractive appearance to their shape and projection of the buttocks
BBL cautions and caveats
BBLs are best done by plastic surgeons who are board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, as the procedure is inherently dangerous.
BBL surgery has an extremely high mortality rate (death rate) due to the nature of the procedure.
Death can occur during the liposuction portion of the surgery if important internal organs are punctured with the liposuction cannula while it is being used to extract healthy fat from the patient’s abdomen.
It would take a very poorly trained, inexperienced, or rather unaware surgeon to accidentally puncture organs, though this occurrence is not unheard of and remains a grave danger.
Death may also occur if the healthy fat that has been harvested through liposuction is then injected into the wrong part of the patient’s buttocks. Fat injected into the buttocks during a BBL should not be injected into or under the buttock muscles, but should instead be injected into layers of the existing fatty tissue.
(In June of 2022, following the death of more than 20 BBL patients, Florida’s medical board issued an order, valid for 90 days until its next review, limiting surgeons to doing no more than 3 BBL surgeries per day to avoid “surgeon fatigue.” Part of that order also requires the use of ultrasound technology that allows surgeons to better see exactly where they are injecting fat. Incorrectly injected fat may reach the lungs or heart and cause death.)
Shortcomings of the BBL
BBL surgery is the best way to increase the size of the buttocks, but the procedure is not without its shortcomings.
- BBL surgery does not lift the buttocks, it only enlarges them.
- BBL surgery is dangerous or deadly if performed by inexperienced surgeons
- Between 30 and 70 percent of the healthy fat injected into the buttocks will not survive the procedure. It will be reabsorbed by the body and disappear.
- BBL surgery may not firm up the buttocks, but only enlarge them. It is fat being injected, after all.
- The BBL’s extreme popularity has encouraged surgeons who are very poorly trained and/or are not board-certified, to give the surgery a go. Poor training, pumping patient numbers, and a high potential for complications makes the BBL the most dangerous and deadly plastic surgery–if done by an unskilled surgeon.
- BBL patients will not be able to sit down normally on their butt for about a month after surgery. Doing so risks increased death/reabsorption of the injected fatty tissue.
Barring the above complications and caveats, BBL surgery remains a much better alternative than butt implants, for most patients. Done well, BBL surgery is far less likely to result in infections and complications than silicone butt implants are, and is far more effective at enhancing the buttocks (permanently) than shapewear clothing is.
For its many shortcomings, the BBL still remains one of the most popular plastic surgical procedures performed in the U.S. and abroad as of 2022.
Minor patients (persons under the age of 18) should not undergo Brazilian butt lift surgery. Plastic surgical procedures on such patients is usually restricted to procedures necessary to reduce bullying from classmates (such as ear surgery) and/or surgeries to correct conditions that are causing or contributing to medical conditions, such as the pain and discomfort caused by extremely large breasts on a small frame. Breast augmentation surgery on minors is likewise not usually performed until after a patient reaches the age of 18 or 21.