Thanks to the backsides of celebs like Kim Kardashian, Nicki Minaj, and Beyonce, voluptuous booties are in. But ladies around the country aren’t heading to the gym to beef up their behinds—they’re hitting up the doctor’s office.
Yes, we’re serious. Demand for a procedure called the “Brazilian butt lift” shot up 36 percent in just one year (2014 to 2015), according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Teen Mom 2 star Kailyn Lowry even had one done recently. And Michael Salzhauer, M.D. (a.k.a. Dr. Miami), is famous for Snapchatting his Brazilian butt lifts.
But what exactly does the procedure entail? “It’s a way of augmenting or increasing the size of the butt or improving the shape using your own fat,” says Matthew Schulman, M.D., a board-certified plastic surgeon in New York City who performs the procedures regularly.
The surgery more or less combines liposuction with fat grafting, which is basically sucking fat out where you don’t want it (like your thighs or your stomach) and injecting it where you do (on your rump), he says.
Most of the time, a Brazilian butt lift involves general anesthesia, says Schulman, since your doc will be doing a significant amount of liposuction. And not everyone’s a candidate for it. You have to be healthy, without medical problems, and be cleared for elective surgery; but you also can’t be too thin or too overweight, he says. After all, you need some fat to transfer, and, alternatively, extra pounds can increase risks involved with surgeries.
The most common risks associated with the procedure are aesthetic—contour abnormalities, areas of asymmetry, or cases in which too much fat (or not enough) was removed, says Schulman.
But there are also bigger problems that can crop up. “There have been some incidents of fat embolism,” says Schulman. That's when fat is accidentally injected into big blood vessels in the butt and travels to the lungs, potentially causing death. “It’s rare if someone understands the anatomy,” says Schulman.
Still, it’s reason enough to vet your plastic surgeon. “You want to find someone who is experienced in this procedure because it’s not something a lot people are taught in training,” says Schulman. “There is a steep learning curve.” Look for a board-certified plastic surgeon who works in an accredited facility, has done at least 100 procedures, and can show long-term follows-ups, he says. You also want a surgeon who is working with a board-certified anesthesiologist if you’re being put to sleep.
One thing to keep in mind: “We are transferring fat cells, so not every fat cell will survive,” says Schulman. “Typically, people will lose 40 percent of fat that is transferred, so the size of their butt may change over time.”
Plus, a bigger bootie’s going to really cost you. Brazilian butt lift prices vary greatly depending on where you live, but Schulman says that in his practice, they run about $11,000 a pop.
We think we’ll stick with the gym for now. Squats, here we come.