Brazilian Butt Lift Surgery: Overview

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A Brazilian butt lift (BBL) is a type of gluteoplasty—a cosmetic surgery performed to enhance the appearance of the buttocks. It involves transferring fat from an area such as the hips or midsection to the buttocks to make it fuller and rounder. This procedure will not "lift" loose, sagging skin on the buttocks despite its name.

Many considering a butt augmentation procedure turn to a Brazilian butt lift because the result looks more natural than other options, such as butt implants or injections. There is also a lower risk of infection due to using your own fat vs. a man-made material.

This article will review the procedure of the BBL, its potential complications, and how to prepare for the procedure.

Woman holding her buttocks

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What Is a Brazilian Butt Lift?

A Brazilian butt lift is an elective plastic surgery done for cosmetic reasons. It is done on an outpatient basis in a surgical center by a plastic surgeon.

The surgery is performed under general anesthesia (you are unconscious) or local anesthesia (you are numbed from the waist down and put into a light sleep).

Liposuction is performed to remove excess fat from the abdomen, the sides of the midsection, thigh, or lower back. The collected fat is then processed and injected into specific parts of the buttocks to enhance its size and shape. There are no implants involved in this surgical procedure.

A Brazilian butt lift is not covered by insurance as a cosmetic surgery. The average total cost of a BBL ranges from $4,000 to $15,000 and includes your surgeon’s fee, anesthesia fees, facility fees, lab fees, and medications.

Various Surgical Techniques

Due to the increasing number of BBL surgeries performed every year and the risk of a rare but very serious complication called a pulmonary fat embolism—when injected fat enters the buttock (gluteal) veins and travels to the lungs—plastic surgeons are constantly evaluating their surgical techniques.

BBL techniques may vary in fat processing, location of buttock incision sites, and how and where the fat is injected: subcutaneously (under the skin) or intramuscularly (into the muscle).

To minimize the risk of a pulmonary fat embolism, professional societies like the Aesthetic Surgery Education and Research Foundation (ASERF) have devised a set of recommendations for performing a BBL.

Some of these recommendations include:

  • Avoid injecting fat into the deep muscle.
  • Use a single-hole injection cannula (a thin tube holding the fat) measuring more than 4 millimeters in diameter.
  • Avoid the downward direction of injecting fat into the buttocks

Contraindications

Contraindications to a Brazilian butt lift surgery include:

  • Lack of excess fat that can be harvested
  • Chronic health conditions that increase risk of infection or poor healing
  • Smoking
  • Unrealistic expectations

Potential Risks

Besides the known risks of anesthesia and the general risks of all surgeries (e.g., bleeding and infection), specific risks associated with a Brazilian butt lift include:

  • Seroma (fluid collection beneath the skin)
  • Undercorrection (too little fat is harvested or injected into the buttocks)
  • Fat necrosis (death of fat resulting in small, firm lumps beneath the skin)
  • Scarring
  • Sciatic nerve injury
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
  • Fat embolism

Pulmonary fat embolism is the most deadly complication of BBL surgery. Reports suggest the mortality rate due to this complication may be as high as 1 in 3,000.

Purpose of Brazilian Butt Lift Surgery

Shapelessness of the buttocks may occur from poor tissue elasticity as a result of aging, pregnancy, and weight fluctuations. Genetic factors also play a role. A BBL can alter the contour of the buttocks to address this if desired.

With a fuller, rounder buttocks from a BBL, you may:

  • Have a curvier figure; notice that your clothes fit better
  • See an improvement in the balance between your upper and lower body
  • Experience a boost in your self-confidence, if this was an area of concern for you

Individuals who are good candidates for a Brazilian butt lift include those who:

  • Have good skin tone in the hips and buttocks
  • Are at a healthy weight
  • Have excess fat stores available for harvesting and transferring
  • Willing to maintain a healthy lifestyle
  • Have realistic expectations

If your surgeon deems you a good candidate for a BBL, and you decide to move forward with surgery, you will need to undergo medical clearance from your primary care healthcare provider. This usually entails undergoing basic laboratory studies like a complete blood count (CBC) and basic metabolic panel (BMP), and an electrocardiogram (ECG).

How to Prepare

Being sure to take all the recommended steps to prepare for the BBL is an important part of the process. Each surgeon may have specific instructions for preparation, but the following are some of the most common.

One of the most important steps to prepare is to quit smoking weeks before the surgery if you are a cigarette smoker. Cigarette smoking can make healing after the procedure much more difficult and risky.

Food and Drink

Following a healthy diet overall is beneficial in preparation for surgery.

You will likely be instructed to avoid eating or drinking anything after midnight on the eve of your surgery.

Medications

Stop taking certain medications and herbal supplements that may thin your blood two weeks before surgery (e.g., nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, aspirin, vitamin E, and fish oil).

What to Bring

There will be things you may need to have available at home to make help your recovery, such as

  • Donut cushion to sit on
  • Healthy snack
  • Easy to prepare meals
  • Comfortable, loose-fitting clothes

Bring any requested paperwork to the surgical center on the day of surgery. They will likely provide you with a list of documents to bring but often include the following:

  • Driver's license
  • Insurance card
  • List of medications you are taking
  • List of any allergies you may have

Wearing loose, comfortable clothes to the surgical center will be helpful after surgery.

As this surgery will require anesthesia, you will need to have someone drive you home.

Do not bring any valuables with you on the day of surgery, and leave jewelry at home.

What to Expect on the Day of Surgery

Before the Surgery

After you arrive at the surgical center and sign in, you will be taken back to the pre-operative area. There, you will change into a hospital gown.

The nursing staff will place an IV into your arm and obtain vital signs (oxygen saturation, temperature, blood pressure, heart rate). You will also likely have to be weighed on a scale.

Labs such as blood counts, kidney function, or a pregnancy test may be needed. These may be done just before the surgery but may be ordered to be done in the days before.

The anesthesia provider will see you before surgery and discuss any questions.
The surgeon will also visit and mark the sites on the skin where fat will be taken and injected into the buttocks.

During the Surgery

Once everyone is ready, you will be taken to the operating room, where anesthesia will be administered. Once anesthesia is started, the surgery typically proceeds in the following manner:

  • Incisions: After cleaning the skin, the surgeon will make incisions at the harvest/liposuction site (e.g., abdomen) and the graft site (the buttocks).
  • Harvesting/liposuction: A tube-like device will be inserted, and fat will be suctioned out of the harvest incision sites and collected in a special container.
  • Transfer: The collected fat will be transferred into individual syringes and then strategically injected into various areas within the buttocks.
  • Closure: When the fat transfer is complete, the incision sites will be closed with sutures and covered with a waterproof dressing. A compression garment will be placed over the buttocks.

Anesthesia is then stopped, and you are taken to the recovery area.

Recovery

In the recovery room, a nurse will monitor your vital signs and give you medication for pain and nausea, which can occur after surgery. Once you are sufficiently awake and alert and the surgeon approves, a friend or family member can drive you home.

At home, you can expect to experience pain, bruising, and swelling in your buttocks and liposuction sites. While the pain should last only a few days, swelling may persist for weeks or even months. Your surgeon will give you tips on how to minimize these symptoms.

Recovery from a Brazilian butt lift takes about six to eight weeks. It takes up to six months to see the final result. You must carefully follow your surgeon's post-operative instructions to ensure a safe and optimal outcome.

One of the most crucial things to do after surgery is avoid sitting on your buttocks for about two weeks. This means that you will need to sleep on your stomach or side. If you absolutely need to sit, your surgeon will probably advise you to use a doughnut cushion or a rolled-up blanket underneath your hips.

You will also need to wear a compression garment (usually provided by the surgeon) at all times for two weeks after surgery. You can remove the compression garment briefly when showering or washing it.

Your surgeon will also likely advise the following:

  • Avoid driving until you are off prescribed pain medication for at least 24 hours.
  • Begin walking around on the second day after surgery.
  • Avoid heavy lifting and vigorous activity for two weeks after surgery.
  • Gently massage the parts of your body where liposuction was performed.
  • While showering is OK after surgery, avoid bathing and swimming for two weeks (until your incision sites have fully healed).

When to Seek Medical Attention

Your surgeon will tell you when to call their office or seek emergency care. General symptoms that warrant immediate attention include:

  • Signs of an infection (e.g., fever or redness/tenderness/warmth/abnormal drainage at the incision site)
  • Excessive bleeding at dressing site
  • Significant or worsening pain
  • Chest pain or trouble breathing
  • Leg pain or asymmetric swelling

Long-Term Care

People are generally highly satisfied with the outcome of their Brazilian butt lift. For some, the surgery boosts self-confidence, which they say helps them try new things and take on goals like a healthier lifestyle.

Going into surgery with realistic expectations is key, though. Surgery is not a "quick fix" and will not dramatically change your appearance or life.

If you are experiencing depression or anxiety before or after surgery, you should reach out to your surgeon or primary care healthcare provider.

Revision Surgery

While the results of a BBL are essentially permanent—provided you do not lose or gain a significant amount of weight—revision surgery may be needed if the original procedure results in buttock asymmetry or an under-correction.

However, transferring fat to a part of the buttock that has already been injected with fat tends to be less successful and more difficult. In addition, revision surgery may not be feasible if you do not have any more areas of excess fat to collect from.

Summary

A Brazilian butt lift is a surgical procedure in which fat is removed from one area of the body and transferred into the buttocks. This allows the plastic surgeon to make the buttocks look fuller and rounder.
It is typically done at an outpatient surgical center and should be done by a plastic surgeon who is experienced in this procedure to get the best results safely.

A Word From Verywell

While a less invasive procedure than obtaining silicone implants in the buttocks, a Brazilian butt lift still carries risks and requires a commitment to recovery.

Be sure to thoroughly research and choose a board-certified plastic surgeon who has ample experience performing BBLs. During your consultation appointment, ask the surgeon about their experience, complication rate, credentials, and portfolio (they should have a photo gallery of before and after pictures from prior patients).

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How does fat transfer differ from BBL?

    A BBL is a type of fat transfer. Fat transfer is the procedure in which fat is removed from one area of the body and put into another. When it is transferred into the butt area, this is called a Brazilian butt lift. Fat transfer can also be done to other areas of the body, such as the breasts.

  • How long does a BBL last?

    The results of a BBL can last for years following surgery. Some of the fat cells will be broken down, but most can remain in place for many years.

  • What is the death rate of a BBL?

    A BBL has been considered one of the riskiest plastic surgical procedures. With new techniques, however, the rate of death associated with this surgery has decreased to 1 in 15,000.

12 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.
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  2. American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery . Buttock lift.

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  7. Multi-Society Task Force for Safety in Gluteal Fat Grafting. Urgent warning to surgeons performing fat grafting to the buttocks (Brazilian butt lift or "BBL").

  8. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Buttock enhancement: gluteal augmentation and lift.

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

  10. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. How should I prepare for buttock enhancement?

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By Julie Scott, MSN, ANP-BC, AOCNP
Julie is an Adult Nurse Practitioner with oncology certification and a healthcare freelance writer with an interest in educating patients and the healthcare community.

Originally written by Natalie Kita