Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Butt Injections

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Photo: Zeljko Santrac/Getty Images

Butts have always been a thing to have, to hold, and to squeeze with glee, and lately, bare butts are shining in their own plump social-media glory. It's no surprise, then, that butt injections are having a moment, too, even though no one seems to know what they are. To navigate through the noise, the Cut spoke with Dr. Matthew Schulman, a New York City plastic surgeon who specializes in butt augmentation, and Dr. Constantino Mendieta, a Miami plastic surgeon who performs butt-implant surgery and fat transfers. Together, we created a primer to get to the jiggly meat of all your butt-injection questions.

What, exactly, are butt injections?
Butt-injection surgery is a medical procedure in which a substance is injected into the butt to make it larger. The only FDA-approved method is the Brazilian Butt Lift and its tailored variations, where fat is removed via liposuction from other parts of the body and transferred to the butt and hips to create a curvy silhouette. Dr. Schulman conducts a version the Brazilian Butt Lift known as the SCOOP Lift®, which uses a centrifuge to separate and remove broken fat cells before transferring them to the butt. He says this method allows for fewer fat cells to be rejected during the transfer.

What other "substances" do people inject into their butts?
Other fillers and injectables like silicone and collagen are not FDA-approved to enhance the butt and are linked to serious consequences, like severe pain, permanent disfigurement, and death.

How is the Brazilian Butt Lift different from butt implants?
According to Dr. Mendieta, butt implants pose a higher complication rate because there's an incision rupture risk (implants are inserted through the butt crack). Far less popular than the Brazilian Butt Lift, they only add volume instead of reshaping the butt, so if you went into surgery with a square butt, you'll leave surgery with a supersize square butt. There’s also a chance they’ll make your backside look like it's smuggling a Frisbee, as seen in this video. Butt implants differ from breast implants, in that they are made from a solid, gel-like silicone, instead of a liquid. Meanwhile, the Brazilian Butt Lift adds fat that isn’t encased in an implant, which allows for a total reshaping of the hips and butt. The butt feels softer, too, where butt implants tend to feel like tightened muscles. 

Can the fat move to other parts of the body?
No. Once the fat is transferred to the buttocks during a Brazilian Butt Lift procedure, it can’t migrate to other parts of the body. However, Dr. Schulman estimates that 20 to 25 percent of the fat inserted will be rejected by the body, liquefied into an oil, and excreted through urine within six weeks. “It sounds gross, but it's almost like the fat surrounding a raw piece of chicken. If you smash the fat between your fingers, the fat will disintegrate and become oil,” he says. After the initial 20 to 25 percent fat loss, the results are permanent and will only diminish if you lose weight.

Who is the ideal candidate for the Brazilian Butt Lift or a butt implant?
It varies from person to person, but prime candidates for the Brazilian Butt Lift are slightly overweight, with a BMI ranging from somewhere around 25 to 30 (a person with a BMI over 30 is considered obese and carries a greater risk for surgery complications). Dr. Mendieta puts it this way: "If you can pinch at least an inch of fat in your gut, then you can probably undergo the surgery." Butt implants, however, are for anyone, especially very thin individuals who lack enough fat for the Brazilian Butt Lift.

What happens if you lose weight?
Sometimes thinner patients intentionally gain weight in anticipation of the procedure. Dr. Schulman advocates against this because it forces patients to maintain their heavier weight post-surgery, rounder face and all, if they hope to prolong the surgery's results. If patients lose weight after surgery, their newly purchased butt will likely diminish in size as well.

How long has this procedure been around?
The first Brazilian Butt Lift was performed over two decades ago, but Dr. Schulman says demand for the surgery skyrocketed within the past five or six years. According to the latest data from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, 10,000 butt enhancements were performed in 2013.

What is the most requested butt shape?
Dr. Schulman says that most of his patients ask for an “upside-down heart” shape. Sofia Vergara and Jessica Biel butts are the most requested in his office. Rounder "C" butts, like Nicki Minaj's or Kim Kardashian's, are less popular.   

What are the risks for the Brazilian Butt Lift and implants?
Any surgery poses risks, and butt surgery is no different. A fat embolism, where fat is injected directly into a blood vessel and blocks an artery, is a very rare consequence of the Brazilian Butt Lift. Although it is impossible for a butt implant to leak (they are made from a thick, gummy-bear-like silicone), they can harden over time or become infected if the implant incision accidentally opens.

How long is the recovery time?
For the Brazilian Butt Lift, the recovery time depends on the amount of fat removed and then transferred. Dr. Schulman tells his patients to expect seven to ten days of discomfort. After two to three weeks, the pain should dissipate entirely. Pain from implants should go away after a month.

How much does all of this cost?
Though the price varies from state to state and practice to practice, anything less than $9,000 for a Brazilian Butt Lift should raise red flags. Implants are a little more expensive, with prices ranging from $10,000 for a basic surgery and up to $20,000 at Dr. Mendieta's practice, where he prefers to modify traditional butt-implant surgery by adding a small amount of liposuctioned fat around the hips and implants. In any case, always seek a board-certified plastic surgeon before going under the knife.

Before and after a Brazilian Butt Lift. Photo: Courtesy of Dr. Schulman