Understanding the Risks of the Brazilian Butt Lift

In this blog, we’ll cover:

  • What a Brazilian Butt Lift is
  • What the BBL surgery entails
  • The risks involved with the procedure
  • Alternative aesthetic procedures to consider for similar results

The Brazilian Butt Lift, or BBL, is has been a trendy aesthetic procedure that, if done correctly, produces volume in the buttocks area through surgical fat grafting. Although this surgery has been popularized among celebrities and influencers, its associated complications and high death rates are less often discussed. Which begs the question:

Is a rounder rear worth the butt lift risks?

On The Skin Report podcast, Dr. Simran Sethi, an Internal Medicine doctor and Founder of RenewMD medical spas and Skin by Dr. Sethi, discusses this highly debated aesthetic procedure. She shares information on the surgery, safety considerations, and alternative approaches that achieve similar results.

The BBL Procedure

To get the complete picture regarding the BBL procedure, you should first be aware of what this surgery entails.

The BBL process involves fat grafting to enhance the appearance of the buttock. Fat grafting is the process of transferring fat from another part of the body onto the gluteal area to increase its volume and provide a lifted effect. This fat is usually taken from the abdomen.

BBLs usually rely on the patient having tight to moderately tight skin in the buttocks area and enough fat tissue in another part of the body to be transferred. However, a BBL can also be performed with implants, but this is less popular amongst plastic surgeons due to the additional risks involved with this method.

BBL Risks and Safety Considerations

While many people have had positive experiences with their BBL procedures, not all patients are so lucky. As with all surgeries, the BBL comes with significant risks that should be thoroughly assessed and considered before someone decides to undergo this procedure.

The BBL is considered risky as far as aesthetic procedures go, as it carries an almost 16 times greater risk of death compared to other plastic surgeries. According to the Journal of Aesthetic Surgery, buttock augmentation with fat, or a BBL, has the highest death rate compared with other aesthetic procedures at 1 in 3448.

So what about the BBL process makes it so hazardous?

All cases where a BBL has resulted in death were caused by a complication called a pulmonary fat embolism. This condition involves fat finding its way into the bloodstream and traveling into the heart and lungs. This fat droplet can interfere with oxygen exchange, leading to death in certain situations.

Pulmonary fat embolisms are common in gluteal fat grafting procedures like BBLs. However, not all BBLs carry the same high risk of this condition. Pulmonary fat embolisms are more likely to occur with specific surgical approaches to BBLs, where fat is grafted into the area by injection directly into the gluteal muscle.

The other BBL fat grafting method occurs when fat is injected under the skin but above the muscle. This approach is not associated with an increased risk of pulmonary fat embolism as the fat will not be injected into the muscle, and surgeons are less likely to accidentally break into a blood vessel and inject fat into a vein.

Finally, another type of BBL procedure is performed by injecting implants or silicone fillers into the buttock. Fortunately, this option is less commonly utilized, as injectable silicone for body contouring is highly unsafe. Not only are implants and silicone fillers permanent, they can move throughout the body and can cause infections, pain, injuries, permanent disfigurement, scarring and fat embolisms. For these reasons, this method is not approved by the FDA.

Alternatives to the Brazilian Butt Lift

Brazilian Butt Lifts can come with a significant likelihood of experiencing risks and complications. For this reason, many people choose to steer clear of this precarious procedure.

But what about those seeking a safer way to get their dream derrière? Luckily, there are a few alternate options that people can undergo to volumize their behinds!

Traditional Butt Lifts
Traditional butt lifts address the loss of volume and sagging of the gluteal area, making them ideal for addressing changes due to aging or weight loss. However, unlike the BBL, a traditional butt lift won’t add volume to the area.

Traditional butt lifts involve surgery and cutting, so scarring and scar pigmentation will occur in skin types IV and greater. These incisions are significant in size, so patients with darker skin tones will likely see considerable scarring.

Body Sculpting
Non-surgical body sculpting is a much less invasive option for people looking to enhance their bottoms without going under the knife! There are body sculpting options that reduce fat and help stimulate muscle, such as the HIFEM or the EmSculpt. This can leave patients with a more toned and lifted appearance.

For more information about nonsurgical body sculpting, check out Season 1, Episode 35 of The Skin Report podcast, where Dr. Sethi describes the best options available.

Diet and Exercise
Of course, diet and exercise are essential to maintaining the appearance of our skin and bodies. For this reason, patients who undergo body sculpting procedures are encouraged to practice a healthy diet and exercise regimen to maintain the results of their procedures.

Additionally, pairing a body sculpting procedure with a protein-rich diet and targeted exercise can provide drastic improvements to the gluteal area, which can help patients to achieve their goals without going under the knife!

There are significant risks associated with Brazilian Butt Lifts – but are there any circumstances where these procedures are safe? Tune in to Season 1, Episode 36 of The Skin Report podcast to hear more about the safety of this procedure and what factors patients should look for in a plastic surgeon if they decide to get a BBL.