Purpose of BBL Surgery

A Brazilian butt lift cosmetically alters buttock shape and size

There are several reasons people opt to have a Brazilian butt lift (BBL)—an elective surgery involving the transfer of fat from one part of the body to the buttocks to contour its shape and enhance its size. Some may undergo the procedure to fit better in their clothes, for example. Others may want more balanced proportions.

Whatever one's personal reasons for having BBL surgery, the procedure offers two key benefits that are universal to all: The end result is more natural-looking than with butt implant surgery, and BBL is associated with far less risk of infection.

In this article, you'll learn some reasons why people opt for a BBL, who is considered a good candidate, how to have realistic expectations of the procedure, and what you need to do to prepare.

What Happens During a BBL?

During BBL surgery, a plastic surgeon uses liposuction to collect fat from an area such as the hips, abdomen, or thighs. After it is purified, the fat is injected into the butt cheeks to contour and enhance their size.

Some of the transferred fat cells won't survive, so your surgeon might choose to inject some extra fat to account for this loss. Once the swelling goes down and the new fat cells integrate, you'll get a glimpse of the full results.

Reasons to Have a BBL

Potential Benefits of a Brazilian Butt Lift (BBL)

Verywell / Jessica Olah

The shape of your body is largely determined by a combination of genetics and lifestyle. Everyone has a natural tendency to store fat a little bit differently, and your skeletal structure plays a big role in your overall silhouette.

Changes like pregnancy or weight lifting can alter the natural shape a person is born with (to an extent).

The BBL is an elective cosmetic procedure, meaning it is not essential to your health and is done for aesthetic purposes only. For those who work out and eat well but remain unhappy with the shape of their bodies, a BBL can create a look that's otherwise impossible to achieve through lifestyle changes alone.

Men or women may choose to have a BBL for a variety of reasons such as:

  • Balancing proportions between the upper and lower body
  • Achieving an hourglass shape
  • A desire for buttocks augmentation without implants
  • Improving the fit of clothing
  • Minimizing areas of fat in other parts of the body
  • Filling in areas of cellulite or dips in the hips and/or buttock(s)

Seek out a board-certified plastic surgeon to ensure the safest and best results for any cosmetic procedure.

Are You a Candidate for BBL Surgery?

BBL surgery depends on adequate fat stores in other areas of the body to provide sufficient donor tissue for a successful BBL.

The best candidates for a BBL are those who plan to maintain their current weight. Gaining or losing weight after a body contouring procedure such as BBL can lead to undesired changes in your overall physique.

If you're planning to become pregnant or undergo weight loss surgery like a gastric bypass, it's best to wait until you've reached a stable weight before getting a BBL.

As with any procedure, it's ideal to be as physically healthy as possible before your BBL surgery. Getting regular exercise, eating well, and having a positive mental outlook can improve your chances of having a healthy recovery.

Other Options

People who have sagging skin or who are very thin may not be good candidates for a BBL. Although a BBL can fill out the area, it doesn't lift excess skin.

An experienced plastic surgeon will be able to recommend alternative procedures to achieve your desired results (such as a body lift surgery). If you have very low body fat, it may be difficult for your surgeon to find adequate fat stores to harvest for transfer during your BBL operation. In this case, your healthcare provider may recommend implants instead.

You'll be able to review all of your options in a consultation with your surgeon before scheduling a BBL.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

A BBL can reshape areas of the body, which may help boost your self-esteem. However, no cosmetic procedure can heal deep underlying insecurities, including those associated with eating disorders or depression.

If you suspect that mental or emotional issues are fueling your desire for a BBL or other cosmetic procedures, it's best to consult a psychotherapist before making any decisions about plastic surgery.

A mental condition called body dysmorphic disorder causes people to believe that their body needs to be "fixed" when, in reality, they are unable to see themselves as the rest of the world sees them. People with body dysmorphic disorder often believe they possess physical flaws that aren't noticeable to others.

Studies show that the prevalence of body dysmorphic disorder is higher in cosmetic surgery patients (10%) than in the general population (2.4%).

Generally, plastic surgeons are not trained in diagnosing body dysmorphic disorder or other psychological or psychiatric conditions. Furthermore, a psychiatric evaluation is not a required prerequisite to surgery.

In 90% of cases, patients may invest time, money, and risk their safety with cosmetic procedures only to find their emotional symptoms are worsened or unchanged.

Managing Expectations

It's important to have realistic expectations about what a BBL can and cannot achieve. Your surgeon should work with you to ensure that the results you seek (e.g., a more rounded appearance, a more athletic profile) are indeed possible given your body type.

Be vocal about your reasons for having the surgery and your desired outcome, and ask all of the questions that you have. It helps to have these discussions with images both you and the surgeon can speak to.

Instead of looking to celebrities for inspiration, it's better to reference real patients who share a similar starting point as yourself. Ask your surgeon to see real before-and-after photos from their practice. Though every individual's results are different, this can at least give you an idea of the possibilities.

Note: It's impossible to know for sure how a BBL will change your body until after you have fully healed from the surgery.

Before the Surgery

You will need to schedule medical clearance and lab testing. Your surgeon will advise you on the specifics of your required pre-operative labs and testing. These will include tests to ensure that your heart and lungs are strong enough to handle anesthesia.

Before you go under the knife, your surgeon will want to ensure that you're in good shape to recover quickly after the procedure. You'll begin preparations for surgery about three to four weeks before your scheduled BBL. If you're a smoker, it's best to quit at least four weeks before the BBL surgery for optimal wound healing.

BBLs are typically done as outpatient procedures either under general anesthesia, intravenous (IV) sedation, or local anesthesia.

If you have a genetic bleeding disorder or an autoimmune disease that could impair your recovery, your surgeon will want to take special precautions or suggest a less invasive procedure to ensure your safety.

A Word From Verywell

A BBL can provide satisfying results for the right candidate. If you're physically healthy, financially capable of affording your BBL procedure, and mentally prepared to take on the process, having a BBL can contribute to positive changes in your self-image and confidence.

Only you can decide what's best for your body. After researching the BBL procedure and speaking to a qualified surgeon, it's up to you to decide whether a BBL is right for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What does a BBL look like?

    Every body shape is different and so is every BBL. In general, the goal of a BBL is to add fullness to the buttocks, enhance its curvature, and improve the overall shape and symmetry of your rear.

  • Does your butt look better immediately after a Brazilian butt lift?

    No. The buttocks can be swollen for several weeks, and can take months before the final results of your BBL are apparent. Some people require more than one BBL surgery to get the results they want.

  • What are the risks of having BBL surgery?

    All surgery carries risks. For a Brazilian butt lift, the risks can include:

    • Blood clot or pulmonary embolism
    • Infection
    • Changes in nerve sensations around the site of surgery
    • Scarring 
    • Wounds healing poorly
    • Fat embolism
  • How much does a Brazilian butt lift cost?

    On average, plastic surgeons charge $4,807 for a Brazilian butt lift, also known as a buttock augmentation with fat grafting. This does not include anesthesia, hospital fees, or other expenses that might be charged for the procedure.

7 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Board of Cosmetic Surgery. Brazillian butt lift.

  2. Joseph AW, Ishii L, Joseph SS, et al. Prevalence of body dysmorphic disorder and surgeon diagnostic accuracy in facial plastic and oculoplastic surgery clinics. JAMA Facial Plast Surg. 2017;19(4):269-274. doi:10.1001/jamafacial.2016.1535

  3. Clay RA. Beauty in the eye of the beholder. American Psychological Association.

  4. The Naderi Center. Pre-operative instructions for BBL (Brazilian butt lift).

  5. American Board of Cosmetic Surgery. Brazilian butt lift.

  6. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Buttock augmentation with fat grafting – aka the Brazilian butt lift.

  7. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. How much does buttock enhancement cost?

By Anastasia Climan, RDN, CD-N
Anastasia, RDN, CD-N, is a writer and award-winning healthy lifestyle coach who specializes in transforming complex medical concepts into accessible health content.