What is the Brazilian butt lift? A Beverly Hills plastic surgeon explains

In today’s fitness-focused, Instagram-obsessed day and age, a toned derriere seems to be more desirable than ever.

Beyond the gym, some hopefuls are going so far as to go under the knife to achieve a Kardashian-worthy bum. According to a report from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), buttock augmentation with fat grafting has been one of the fastest-growing surgical procedures in recent years, with over 24,000 procedures performed by ASPS-member surgeons certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) in 2018.

Beyond the gym, some hopefuls are going under the knife to achieve a Kardashian-worthy bum.

Beyond the gym, some hopefuls are going under the knife to achieve a Kardashian-worthy bum. (iStock)

With warmer weather and skimpier styles ahead, Dr. Charles Galanis of Galanis Plastic Surgery in Beverly Hills, Calif., spoke to Fox News about the procedure informally known as the Brazilian butt lift, debunking myths and revealing whether or not he thinks the trend is here to stay.

Galanis is a plastic and reconstructive surgeon who is double board-certified in surgery by the American Board of Surgery and in plastic surgery by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). He completed his residency at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in general surgery and further trained at the University of California, Los Angeles’ highly competitive plastic and reconstructive surgery program. Galanis has written over 20 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, and his research has been presented at various medical conferences.

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FOX NEWS: What is the Brazilian butt lift, or BBL? How is it performed?

DR. CHARLES GALANIS: The Brazilian butt lift (BBL) procedure is a surgery during which fat is removed from one part or parts of the body – like the abdomen, lower back, etc. – and transferred to the buttocks to enhance the size and shape.

Interestingly enough, the origin of the term has nothing to do with Brazil. In 1996, an American surgeon televised the procedure with a patient who happened to be Brazilian. The term "Brazilian butt lift" stuck.

FOX: What are the benefits?

Galanis: Patients can achieve a fuller derriere without the use of a foreign material or implant. They also have the added benefit of reducing fat and contouring other areas. It can basically be seen as two procedures in one.

A "before" image (left) and an "after" image (right) of a Brazilian butt lift.

A "before" image (left) and an "after" image (right) of a Brazilian butt lift. (Galanis Plastic Surgery)

FOX: After the procedure, what is the recovery process like?

Galanis: Patients can expect about one to two weeks of downtime.  Pain medicine is typically required for at least a few days after the surgery. Each surgeon will have his or her own protocols regarding sitting restrictions, but generally speaking, patients will have to avoid sitting altogether or sit using a specialized pillow for two to four weeks. Swelling will resolve over four to six weeks.

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FOX: Are there any unique risks inherent to the surgery?

Galanis: All surgeries come with risks. The most noteworthy concern regarding the BBL specifically is the risk of death from fat embolism, when fat is unintentionally injected into blood vessels.

Preliminary studies have showed alarmingly high mortality rates, prompting the creation of a task force of plastic surgeons to investigate the issue and contribute general safety guidelines. It was determined that injecting fat under the skin (i.e. subcutaneously) but not in the muscle can avoid this devastating complication.

Consequentially, the procedure is now generally considered safe when performed by properly trained and experienced surgeons.

FOX: How much can the BBL cost?

Galanis: As with all plastic surgery, costs will vary widely based on geographic location, number of areas treated — and, therefore, time required in the operating room — surgeon experience and surgeon demand.

FOX: How long will a Brazilian butt lift last, on average?

Galanis: A patient should expect the benefits of the procedure to be permanent in the sense that the changes to their body will not reverse themselves. That being said, over time with aging and with any weight changes a patient may experience, the results may change. This is true for virtually all aesthetic surgeries of the body.

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FOX: What do you think inspired the BBL’s current popularity?

Galanis: History has shown time and time again that the beauty ideal shifts. One such shift that grew dramatically over the last decade was a curvaceous shape highlighted by a full, round bottom. Certainly celebrities and social media influences have played a significant role in this evolving beauty trend.

FOX: In your opinion, when did the BBL become popular?

Galanis: The procedure has exploded over the past five to ten years exhibiting growth rates higher than just about every other surgery according to statistics released by the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. 

In today’s fitness-focused, Instagram-obsessed day and age, a tight and toned derriere is more desirable than ever.

In today’s fitness-focused, Instagram-obsessed day and age, a tight and toned derriere is more desirable than ever. (iStock)

FOX: Do you predict that the BBL will stay hot through the next few years, or fade out of fashion?

Galanis: I don't think the procedure itself is going anywhere. What will and probably already is changing is the goal buttock size. Whereas many women were initially looking for dramatic augmentation, more and more women are now interested in something a little more discreet.

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FOX: Are there any myths or misconceptions about the BBL?

Galanis: I would say one misconception about BBL surgery is one that is commonly attributed to a lot of plastic surgery: That it looks fake.  To the contrary. With modern technologies and techniques, should the patient desire it, we are able to achieve results that leave patients happy without alerting the entire room that the patient had plastic surgery.

FOX: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our audience?

Galanis: The importance of finding a qualified provider for this procedure cannot be overestimated. It starts with finding a plastic surgeon board-certified by the ABPS.