What It's Really Like To Get A Butt Augmentation
Butts are huge right now (call it the Kim Kardashian effect). Popular wisdom to a perkier behind is to double down on squats, but those who aren't able to achieve their desired derriere by exercise alone are increasingly turning to butt augmentation procedures like butt implants and so-called Brazilian Butt Lifts (which involve fat transfer from other parts of the body). These rear-enhancing procedures can be about size, sure, but they can also be subtle or corrective. Reasons for seeking cosmetic surgery vary, as we found out when we spoke to three patients who have had butt augmentations. Here's what they had to say.
Naomi*, Long Beach, CA
Naomi had a fat transfer procedure a year before deciding to undergo butt implant surgery. She noticed the results from her initial procedure diminishing around six months after the operation and sought a more permanent solution. “I was so happy with the result of my fat transfer, but as time went by the results became less pronounced. I didn’t want to get into a cycle of having fat grafting surgery frequently, and also didn’t have enough fat to transfer over and over, so I started looking into butt implants as an alternative.”
Aedit: As someone who has had both surgical procedures, how would you say the recovery time compares?
Naomi: “The pain from the implants has been much less than from the Brazilian Butt Lift. The day after surgery, the pain was pretty similar for both procedures, but I slept most of the time after I got home from the clinic. After that, it is painful, but this time it was not as bad as last year’s (BBL) procedure. The main difficulties I found were getting out of bed and using the bathroom. I did get some dizziness when I was stood up for too long during the second to fourth days of recovery, but that could have been from the anesthesia.”
Aedit: How were the results of each procedure?
Naomi: “The results from both procedures were initially very similar. The volume increase was similar - I had shown my plastic surgeon photos of the results of the first procedure before deciding on the size and shape of the implant for the second. The biggest difference is the longevity. A year after the BBL procedure, the results had more or less disappeared, but I had my implant surgery over a year ago and the results are still the same. I am so happy to know that these results will last for the foreseeable future, it’s a big relief.”
Aedit: Do you have any advice for patients considering having a buttock enhancement?
Naomi: “My main piece of advice, purely based on my experience, would be to seriously consider the longevity of the augmentation surgery. Aside from that, definitely have someone on hand to help you out during the first week or so after surgery. It’s a pretty inconvenient recovery process and having someone there to help with basic tasks made a big difference for me. Make sure you check with your surgeon when you can start your usual activities again. Mine gave me a recovery schedule to follow detailing what I could start doing week by week.”
Josie*, Boston, MA
Six years ago, Josie decided that she wanted to have plastic surgery to combat the effects of gravity after having three children. She opted to have a Brazilian Butt Lift with fat transferred from her arms and abdomen. “I think I underestimated the toll the procedure would take on my body," she says. "Because of the fat transfer from the different areas, it meant the pain was quite widespread.”
Aedit: How did you decide between fat transfer and implants?
Josie: “I was considering both procedures, but I also wanted liposuction. I discussed options with my surgeon and after weighing them all, I decided to go with the Brazilian Butt Lift. It just made more sense for me and I’m really pleased with the decision I made.”
Aedit: How was your recovery from the procedure?
Josie: “The first couple of days were painful, but after the fourth day things got better really quickly. It was great because I got to see results pretty much straight away. There was swelling initially which emphasized the results, but once the swelling had gone down, my butt was the perfect shape. The only downside was that my job involved a lot of sitting so I had to get up regularly. It was an issue for ten days or so after I went back to work. After about a month, I was back to normal.”
Aedit: Have you had any revision procedures since your first operation?
Josie: “I had my initial procedure seven years ago and had revision surgery four years later. I knew to expect potential revision surgery, so it didn’t come as a surprise. I decided to have revision surgery because the initial lift effect had worn off a little bit and I wanted a boost. I had gained weight, so liposuction to graft the excess fat was very welcome! The second procedure tired me out more than the first one, but the recovery was pretty similar. I’m still happy with the results right now and don’t think I’ll be going in for another revision for a couple of years.”
Aedit: Are you satisfied with the results?
Josie: “Yes! It has really boosted my self-esteem and made me feel younger. My body changed so much from having my kids, that I didn’t really feel like me anymore. And even though the procedures were quite painful in the few days after, it’s definitely been worth it for me. ”
Laura*, Los Angeles, CA
A keen athlete, Laura tried every trick in the book to achieve the butt she wanted by working out but didn’t have much luck. “I had tried to achieve my perfect body through exercise, but I just couldn’t get my butt to look how I wanted it," she says. It was the one area of her body that she wasn’t happy with, so she decided to look into getting surgery. "I did my research and found out that implants would probably be the best option for me, so I researched doctors near my hometown so I could stay with my parents while I recovered.”
Aedit: Could you talk us through the procedure itself and your first week post-surgery?
Laura: “I had my gluteal implant procedure as an outpatient, so I just went to the clinic on the morning of my surgery and came home right after it was done. When I got home I had to sleep on my front to avoid putting pressure on the buttocks area, but I wasn’t in much pain because of the drugs. The following day I had a call with one of the nurses at the clinic. I was doing ok and made sure to take the painkillers as instructed. During the first couple of days there was no way I would’ve missed a dose, it was pretty painful! Day by day it got easier. It was pretty restrictive initially and I definitely needed my mom there to help me with basic tasks, so I was happy I decided to have the surgery near my hometown.”
Aedit: Do you have any tips for people who are going to have the procedure?
Laura: “Find a board-certified plastic surgeon you completely trust and do your research about the clinic. See if you can get a personal referral from someone you know. Follow your surgeon’s patient care instructions to the letter and expect discomfort. It’s annoying to have to adapt your routine right after the surgery but keep the results in mind when you’re uncomfortable in those first few days.”
Aedit: How did the experience differ from what you expected?
Laura: “I underestimated how much I sit down! The buttock area is a pretty inconvenient part of your body to have surgery on, but once you get used to doing things in a different way, it’s not so bad. I was able to drive the five-hour drive home after a week, but I had to stop every half hour to get out and walk around. Still, I think the most surprising thing has been how realistic the final results look and feel!”
We also spoke to Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Ryan Stanton, MD, who specializes in buttock implants, to find out more about butt augmentation procedures and what to expect from recovery.
Aedit: Are both fat transfer and implant procedures viable for most patients?
Dr. Stanton: “Technically both options are available but relatively few patients are truly good candidates for the Brazilian Butt Lift (BBL) compared to buttock and cosmetic hip implants. I have performed buttock implants on all types of patients - skinny, lean, muscular, medium, obese, young, and old - and this cannot be said about BBL.”
Aedit: How do you advise patients prepare their body for the procedure?
Dr. Stanton: “Like for any surgery, a healthy lifestyle with healthy nutrition (especially a high protein diet), mental preparation, avoiding blood-thinning medications and herbal supplements, and not smoking are optimal for health and a smooth recovery after surgery.”
Aedit: Could you outline the recovery process for butt augmentation procedures?
Dr. Stanton: “Keep in mind that every patient is unique and has their own unique experience. That being said, here is the most typical recovery process: The first two weeks after surgery is the most challenging with swelling, tightness, and discomfort. Several different types of pain and anti-inflammatory medications are prescribed. Icing around the clock is also extremely helpful. Sitting is prohibited for these two weeks, except for 10 to 15 minutes for eating or using the restroom. Patients that have traveled long distances (to get the operation) may fly back home after only five days by following a strict sitting/pressure release routine. The majority of patients are most comfortable laying on their tummy for the first two weeks, but it is possible to place yourself into a fairly comfortable position on your back with your knees and ankles elevated thus transferring some of your weight from the buttocks to the mid-back region. With buttock and hip implants, sleeping on the side is prohibited for three weeks.
Patients may return to work after two to three weeks as sitting and basic daily activities become easier. For those who work from home, return to work resumes much sooner if they can work standing, kneeling, or reclining. After two weeks patients may sit for up to 30 minutes at a time, then stand or take a short walk for at least 15 to 30 seconds before sitting back down, after three weeks for up to an hour, and at four weeks unlimited time. At four weeks patients can resume upper body exercises while standing only. By six weeks, all restrictions are lifted. Exercise (including squats and lunges) and sports may be resumed but at low intensity, gradually building week by week to full strength in about another six weeks.
Like breast implants, the implants have fully dropped into place and achieved full projection about six months post-operation. Also at this time, the body has adapted to the implant and no longer recognizes it as foreign.”
Aedit: Are there any revision surgeries to be expected for implant procedures?
Dr. Stanton: “Because buttock and cosmetic hip implants are made of soft semi-solid silicone rubber, not gel like breast implants, they cannot rupture and leak and so are considered permanent. Buttock or hip implant patients may eventually decide to upsize or, rarely, downsize their implants, just like with breast implants.”
Aedit: What are the potential risks associated with this particular procedure?
Dr. Stanton: “If performed by a buttock implant specialist, buttock implants are no more dangerous than breast implants. In my experience and as studies have shown, the risks and potential complications of silicone implants are very similar to breast implants: ~1% risk of infection, ~2% risk of wound healing complications, ~1% risk of bleeding or fluid collections. Due to postoperative swelling, patients commonly have temporary indirect sciatica symptoms for days to weeks after surgery. (I have never damaged any patients sciatic nerve in about 1,000 cases.) While breast implants have a nearly 20% risk of hardening from excessive scar tissue formation surrounding the implant (called capsular contracture), in my experience buttock implants have only ~2% risk of this. Also, because buttock implants are made of soft semi-solid silicone rubber and do not have a silicone shell containing liquid, as breast implants do, they cannot rupture or leak. Therefore, they are considered a permanent implant that never have to be changed at certain intervals, unlike breast implants.”
*Names have been changed at patients' requests