Butt Enhancement: Why Big Booties Are All the Rage

“Oh. My. Gosh. Look at Her Butt. Oh. My. Gosh. Look at Her Butt,” the girls chant in Nicki Minaj’s hit song “Anaconda,” in which a male says, “My anaconda don’t want none unless you got buns, hun.”

Unless you got buns.

While there are ways to firm up your posterior with extensive exercise, or body shape wear and clothing which promises to lift and firm, more and more women are going for the butt lift.

It started with the Brazilians, continued with the European models, and exploded with the inescapable celebrity of Kim Kardashian.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons’ most recent figures, the number of buttock augmentations has gone up by 252% since 2000. And doctors are noticing.

“While a rounder, more curvaceous derriere has been in vogue for a number of years, celebrities like Nicki Minaj and Kim Kardashian have brought the attention to the rear to an all-time high, influencing more women to undergo buttock augmentation to achieve the hourglass look,” says board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Constantino Mendieta, whose Miami practice is at the epicenter of a real butt-boom.

Butt augmentation before and after: patient received 500 cc in each buttock. Source: Dr. Constantino Mendieta

Some patients will go to extreme measures in order to obtain their favorite stars’ curvy figures. A man accused of administering the buttock-enhancing injections that killed a Florida mother-of-two in 2013 was recently arrested after spending three years on the lam. The woman was illegally injected in the buttock with industrial-grade silicone, causing a fatal embolism.

Dr. Mendieta, who is a regular speaker on talk shows and the author of a book on butt enhancement – The Art of Gluteal Sculpting – warns patients of the dangers of black market butt injections: implants and fat transfer, also known as the Brazilian butt lift, are the only two surgical procedures that are recognized by the ASPS for buttock augmentation.

Brazilian butt lift

“Buttock augmentation has become more popular than ever before,” says New York plastic surgeon Dr. Stephen T. Greenberg. When celebrities started augmented their derrieres, that made “the people next door do it, too.”

The most popular procedure is the Brazilian butt lift, which involves doctors performing liposuction to obtain fat – usually taking it from the inner thighs, love handles and outer thighs – purifying it, and then reinserting it into the buttocks.

“There have been people in the past that have injected other substances, like silicone. In my opinion that’s a very bad idea and has a high complication rate,” says Dr. Greenberg. But the Brazilian butt lift “is a safe procedure because you’re injecting your own fat, as opposed to foreign material.”

Some patients will get a liposuction just to collect enough fat for the butt lift (about 500 cc’s). “It does very well, long-term, with 50-60% of the fat lasting forever.” Depending on how much liposuction you do, the procedure can take 1-2 hours and cost $5,000- $10,000. Patients can go back to work within 24-48 hours.

But it’s more than just a technical job, says Dr. Greenberg: you have to contour the buttock and decide how big it should be. “It’s all very artistic to get a butt in the right shape and give it the projection.”

Some procedures, like CoolSculpting, a non-surgical procedure that freezes stubborn fat away, are only recommended for people within 20-30 lbs. of their ideal weight. Are there any such limitations for the Brazilian Butt Lift?

“The limitations are only on how much fat you have,” Dr. Greenberg says, noting he sees models with no body fat who ask him, “Should I gain weight for the procedure?”

He tells them, “I don’t recommend it.”

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