Bodybuilding Implants: Why Pro Weightlifters Are Getting Butt Augmentation Surgery

male bodybuilder

The popularity of bodybuilding competitions is on the rise. Back in 2006, 40 International Federation of BodyBuilders (IFBB) competitions were held, with prize money topping 1.6 million dollars.

Now the IFBB holds more than 2,500 competitions at all levels annually, ranging from local to world championships, and bodybuilders can earn enough money to make it their profession.

Even celebrities like Tamra Judge from the “Real Housewives of Orange County” and former beauty queen Ashley Toms can be seen flexing their muscles on bodybuilding stages.

With this trend comes a surge in interest for plastic surgery among professional bodybuilders, to whom gluteoplasty — more commonly known as butt augmentation — can offer a very appealing competitive edge. These are the main reasons:

  • To help fill out a swimsuit

Sagging swimwear will break you in a competition. The glutes are a difficult group of muscles to properly strengthen and give a nice curvature to, so plastic surgery can serve as a quick fix.

  • To create a shapelier silhouette when posing

Women with larger breasts may want to consider butt augmentation to craft a more enviable, even figure.

This is especially helpful for those who lost weight in training and have sagging skin in the glutes.

Butt implants vs fat grafting

Plastic surgeons sculpt the perfect derriere by inserting a silicone implant through an incision hidden inside the natural buttock crease, or by grafting fatty tissue to contour and reshape the area.

Grafting, also known as the Brazilian butt lift, “uses fat harvested from other parts of the body through liposuction, which is then re-injected in the buttocks,” explains Dr. Renato Calabria, a board-certified plastic surgeon with office locations in Beverly Hills and Rancho Mirage, California.

Drs. Calabria, Lee, and Burgdorf

The latest statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) indicate that butt enhancement procedures are the fastest-growing type of plastic surgery in the U.S.

“Last year’s ASPS report showed fat grafting to the buttocks went up 15% from the previous 2013 numbers,” says San Diego, California board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Gilbert Lee.

The procedure isn’t suitable for all bodybuilders, though. According to board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Michael Burgdorf, of Nashville, Tennessee, the biggest hurdle for professional athletes considering butt augmentation is their lack of body fat, which makes liposuction impossible. “We need to turn to implants in those cases,” he says.

Words of caution

As with any procedure, bodybuilders should familiarize themselves with the potential disadvantages.

After surgery, “the strength of the muscle stays about the same, although it can atrophy by about 6%. With the general population that’s not a big deal, but for bodybuilders it’s a different story,” says Dr. Burdorf.

Bodybuilders should also note that they’ll have to wait about 60 days before they can start competing again, and that strenuous physical activity after surgery can lead to serious complications.

“Bodybuilding is about symmetry, so it’s important that every muscle group flows together and is balanced. If the implants are obvious or excessive, it may negatively affect scores,” warns two-time Miss Olympia Erin Stern. The implant could also slip, causing asymmetry and a need for further surgery.

Another concern is scarring, says Dr. Burgdorf: “The incision does leave a scar. It’s about six centimeters in length. A smaller bathing suit should cover it.” Other butt augmentation surgery complications are minimal, and generally fall within standard risks for any type of surgery.

erin ster
Erin Stern (pictured) recommends reverse hyperextensions to build the glutes in her Elite Body workout.

According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), the average price in the United States for a butt augmentation is of $4,300. Costs vary significantly depending on the doctor, city, and complexity of the surgery, with some patients paying as much as $10,000 for the procedure.

Still, many competitive bodybuilders consider that the time saved on working out their glutes justifies the expense. And knowing that a perfect butt can mean the difference between first and second place in a competition makes it all the more tempting.

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