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The End of the BBL Era? What’s Next for Body Contouring?

by | Apr 6, 2023 | Body

What is a BBL?

The Brazilian Butt Lift is a cosmetic enhancement procedure which uses the patient’s fat to enhance the buttocks while simultaneously shaping the lower body. The excess fat is typically removed from areas such as the hips, lower abdomen, and thighs, and then redistributed to the buttocks area to create a fuller, rounder butt. Using one’s own fat as opposed to implants can help achieve a more natural look and feel with minimal scarring. Patients seek a BBL to correct a flat or sagging butt by adding shape and volume to enhance the body. The BBL can also help people achieve an hourglass figure with attractive curves, adding overall symmetry and proportionality in one procedure.

Recovery and Aftercare

The recovery period for a BBL typically takes about 6 weeks, although the full results of the procedure may not be fully realized until 6 months post-op. This is because not all injected fat survives. During the first few weeks of healing, about 35% of the fat is absorbed by the body, meaning the volume depletes to the correct size. Thus, a patient is to avoid putting any pressure on the fat grafted area during the recovery period. For about two weeks the patient cannot sit or put direct pressure on the buttocks, and must sleep on their side or back.

After the surgery, the patient will need to wear a compression garment on their lower body. A patient can expect to experience bruising and swelling, with temporary but moderate pain. After about 3 months the full results are seen with the curves taking shape, and this is a more lasting indicator. The results of a BBL typically last about 5 years, but can last even longer depending on the patients age, diet, and lifestyle.

Risks and how we address them

One of the primary benefits of a BBL is that the procedure uses only the patient’s fat through the fat grafting technique, rather than employing implants. This not only gives the results a more natural look and feel, but also minimizes the risk of the body rejecting its own fat as a foreign object, which would bring on negative reactions. 

However, the BBL procedure comes with an array of risks in the area of injection. The buttocks have a lot of blood vessels, some of which are quite large, that drain into the inferior cava and subsequently the heart. This makes the area of fat injection risky because the fat can be introduced into the venous system instead of the intended destination, clogging arteries as it enters the bloodstream. This is known as fat embolism, and can lead to disastrous health issues if the fat enters and obstructs blood vessels to the heart and lungs. Thus, the BBL proposes a higher mortality rate compared to other plastic surgery procedures. 

In order to account for these risks, doctors are taking precautionary measures to ensure that their techniques allow for the safest injections and procedures possible. One such technique employed here is fat transfer directed by ultrasound. This mitigates the risk of potentially injecting fat into the blood vessels by allowing the surgeon to see exactly where the tip of their cannula is via ultrasound while injecting the purified fat into the patient’s buttocks. Thus, surgeons avoid dangerous zones, gaining effective visualization into the gluteal anatomy and even more control over exactly where the fat is directed.

How is the BBL Changing?

As signified by the drastic change of Kim Kardashian’s shape, the curvy hourglass figure of the BBL era may be on its way out. Many other celebrities have also admitted to reducing their BBLs, in favor of a smaller frame. The change may be partially due to the increased knowledge of the dangers of the BBL before the large efforts to improve techniques and reduce these risks. Even so, it seems that a shift to skinny BBLs is on the rise, a trend towards patients desiring a more natural, proportionate look.

Many women are now seeking out more muscular, athletic buttocks through the Brazilian butt lift procedure. The anatomical build of an athletic woman’s buttocks differs in that it is perky rather than protruding, with toned, rounded glutes in proportion to the thighs and quads. Rather than a large, bubble-shaped buttocks with the dramatic increase in volume, patients may seek out a rounder, heart-shaped BBL which favors gentle curves with a perky buttocks.

The New BBL

The athletic BBL is a reinvented Brazilian butt lift that seeks to emphasize a toned athletic rather than large buttocks. This focuses an emphasis on the silhouette of the patient and their buttocks, not the size. An athletic BBL is well suited towards those with a smaller or more muscular frame seeking subtle results. Thus, the fat grafting process is altered with these differences in mind because less fat is needed for the procedure. For example, fat may be removed from the waist only to fill in hip dips, giving the patient a subtle hourglass shape. In comparison to the traditional BBL, fat is removed from the waist, abdomen, and thighs to be injected to the back of the patient for a more protruding buttocks.

Similar and Related Procedures

In addition to the shift away from the traditional BBL, patients are also seeking out other procedures in conjunction with the brazilian butt lift. One such procedure is hi definition liposuction, a liposuction assisted by ultrasound energy to easily remove fat and provide a toned, contoured body. This procedure liquifies the fat before removal to reduce the pulling associated with traditional liposuction. The ultrasound also helps tone and tighten the skin to give more definition. Normal lipo, on the other hand, simply removes fat but does not eliminate potential sagging if the skin laxity is diminished. Thus, when Hi-def liposuction is paired with an athletic BBL, the advantages can be seen in an overall fit and defined look. 

Another procedure commonly completed with a BBL is the tummy tuck, which removes excess skin and fat from the abdomen. Thus, the stomach area can be flattened and tightened with the fat used for the BBL to create an even more sculpted look. Combining the BBL and a breast augmentation is another way patients may seek to achieve the hourglass look. In a breast augmentation, a patient may receive a fat transfer as well, or use implants to enhance the size of their breasts. The simultaneous enhancement of the breast area with that of the lower buttock region can give patients an accentuated curvy figure. 

Patients looking for a less dramatic butt enhancement may find interest in non-surgical BBLs, which employ dermal fillers to add volume and lift the buttocks. The results are much more subtle than a traditional BBL, but can be a quick alternative with effective, long lasting results.

If you are interested in receiving a Brazilian Butt Lift, or even just curious if the procedure may be right for you, feel free to call us at (310) 273-3007 with any questions you have. While the BBL era may be a trend changing with the times, we encourage you to discuss your options with us so we can help you find a procedure that best suits your body and desires. We will be happy to assist you and provide guidance to various treatment options, whether it concerns eyebrow divots or any procedure you are considering!

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How many years have you been a practicing plastic surgeon?

My first year out of residency was in 2005

Describe your philosophy and approach to cosmetic enhancement and treatment of patients

Philosophy: Superior advice predicated upon evidence-based medicine, innovative insight, and efficient execution.

Treatment goals: Create a natural-appearing, balanced aesthetic enhancement that complements the patient’s unique features.

What’s most important to you when treating patients?

Comfort and security: We strive to achieve the ultimate customer experience. In surgery, much like professional sports, talent typically prevails. Championships however, are won by the teams who subscribe to organizational excellence. Accordingly, with good surgical planning and sound judgment, the majority of routine surgeries follow fairly predictable outcomes. Hence, customer service makes the experience complete. That’s what ultimately differentiates you as a surgeon from the masses. And that is our goal: to exceed our clients expectations.

What does a consultation with you entail?

Initially, patient information is gathered including photographs, salient medical history, and aesthetic goals. Next, I perform a comprehensive consultation utilizing videos and interactive patient education software. Following the consultation, the patient reviews the surgical procedure, peri-operative plans, and financials with the surgical consultant.

What steps does your office take to augment comfort?

We offer several features to augment comfort: A VIP waiting area, complimentary beverage menu, and Wi-Fi connectivity, and complementary usage of iPads.

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