The Fall and Rise of Superficial Gluteal Lifting: A Guide to the Brazilian Butt Lift Procedure
January 19, 2024
5 min read
What is the Brazilian Butt Lift (BBL)?
The Brazilian Butt Lift (BBL) is a cosmetic procedure that has gained immense popularity in recent years, due in part to the influence of celebrities and social media. Many celebrities, such as Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez, have publicly spoken about their own experiences with the procedure, which has helped to increase its popularity. Social media platforms, such as Instagram and TikTok, have also played a significant role in popularising the procedure, with patients now sharing their before-and-after photos and experiences with others.
The Brazilian Butt Lift procedure involves taking fat from other parts of the body, such as the abdomen, thighs, or hips, and injecting it into the buttocks to create a more lifted and fuller appearance. The first step of the procedure involves removing fat from the donor site using liposuction. The fat is then processed to remove any impurities and to separate the healthy fat cells from the damaged ones. The healthy fat cells are then injected into the buttocks using a small cannula - a procedure known as fat transfer, or fat grafting.
There are two types of BBL: the traditional method and the supercharged method. The traditional method involves transferring small amounts of fat to the buttocks. The supercharged method involves injecting much larger amounts of fat to achieve more dramatic results.
The results of the procedure are immediate, but it may take a few weeks for the swelling to subside and for the final results to become apparent.
Why was BBL banned in the UK?
BBL has had a controversial past in the UK due to concerns over patient safety. In 2018, BAAPS announced a ban on BBL after it was revealed that the procedure had the highest mortality rate of all cosmetic surgery procedures. The ban was put in place to protect patients from the risks associated with the procedure, including fat embolism, which can be fatal. The ban coincided with significant media attention following the death of Leah Cambridge - a British woman who died after a BBL procedure in Turkey.
In 2018, a major study by the Aesthetic Surgery Journal showed that the BBL procedure had the highest mortality rate of any aesthetic surgery. The study found that the risk of death from BBL was 1 in 3,000, compared to 1 in 15,000 for other cosmetic procedures. This was attributed to the technique of injecting fat into the gluteal muscle, which can lead to fat entering the bloodstream and causing fatal pulmonary embolism.
While BBL was banned in the UK due to safety concerns, it remained a highly sought-after procedure among those looking to enhance their buttocks. Many patients opted to travel abroad, where the procedure was still being offered. This practice, known as "medical tourism," comes with its own set of risks, including exposure to variable standards of cleanliness, potentially unqualified practitioners, poor aftercare and lack of legal recourse if something goes wrong. It is of course important to note that many skilled practitioners operate responsibly in facilities abroad, however aftercare is often problematic if complications arise once patients have returned home. Increasingly we are seeing patients returning to the UK with complications following cosmetic procedures abroad, including life-threatening sepsis and extensive skin necrosis requiring reconstructive surgery.
Why is BBL now allowed again in the UK?
Following extensive research, Gluteal Fat Grafting (GFG) safety guidelines have been developed and BAAPS now allows BBL procedures to be performed in the UK under specific safety measures. Under the new guidelines, BBL can only be performed by qualified plastic surgeons who have undergone specific training in the technique. Surgeons must adhere to strict protocols to ensure the safety of their patients, including the use of sterile equipment, avoiding deep injection of fat, avoiding multiple injections in a single area, the use of blunt rather than sharp-tipped cannulae and only performing the procedure in hospitals or clinics with the necessary equipment and staff to manage complications.
In particular, the guidelines recommend that fat should not be injected into the gluteal muscle or beneath the gluteal fascia and advises the use of ultrasound guidance where possible to ensure precise placement of the injected fat. Finally, the guidelines recommend that patients should be fully informed of the risks and benefits of the procedure, and that they should undergo a thorough medical assessment before undergoing surgery.
What the New Guidelines Mean for BBL Patients
The new guidelines have introduced several safety measures to ensure the safety of BBL patients. These include:
Limiting the amount of fat that can be injected into the buttocks to reduce the risk of fat embolism
Performing the procedure only in a hospital or clinic that is equipped with the necessary equipment and facilities to deal with any emergencies that may arise
Using only purified fat for the injections to reduce the risk of infection
Monitoring patients closely during and after the procedure to ensure any complications are detected and treated promptly
Patients who are considering BBL are advised to choose a qualified and experienced surgeon who is able to follow these new guidelines. Patients should also ensure that they understand the risks associated with the procedure and that they have realistic expectations of the results of surgery.
What is Superficial Gluteal Lipofilling (BBL)?
Superficial Gluteal Lipofilling is the term used to describe this safer alternative to the Brazilian Butt Lift. The procedure is the same, with fat being removed by liposuction and processed to maximise fat cell viability. However, the processed fat is only injected in the superficial plane, above the muscle fascia, preferably under ultrasound guidance to enhance safety. Fat is not injected into or under the gluteal muscle.
The results of a BBL procedure can last for several years, but it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle and weight to ensure the longevity of the procedure.
What is the recovery process for BBL?
The recovery process for a BBL procedure typically involves wearing a compression garment for several weeks and avoiding sitting directly on the buttocks for several days. Most patients can return to work within a week or two, but it may take several weeks or months for the swelling to fully subside and the final results to be visible.
Is Gluteal Fat Transfer Safe?
BBL can be safe when performed by a qualified and experienced plastic surgeon who follows strict protocols, such as those outlined by BAAPS.
What are the risks of BBL?
As with any surgery, there are risks associated with the BBL procedure. Apart from the much publicised risk of death from pulmonary embolus, there is a risk of sepsis, skin necrosis and an overall unsatisfactory aesthetic result. It is important to consult with an experienced specialist surgeon and discuss the potential risks and benefits of the procedure before making a decision.
BBL has experienced a fall and rise in the UK. Following safety concerns, the procedure was banned in the UK until new guidelines were established in 2022. The guidelines have enabled the safe practice of superficial gluteal lifting once again, allowing patients to undergo the procedure in the UK with qualified and trained plastic surgeons. However, as with any surgical procedure, there are still risks involved. It is important for patients to carefully consider the risks and benefits before undergoing BBL and to choose a qualified and experienced surgeon.
As the popularity of the procedure continues to grow, it is likely that we will see new and innovative techniques being developed to further improve its safety and effectiveness. It is an exciting time for buttock augmentation, but it is important to approach the procedure with caution and to prioritise safety above all else.
At Profile Aesthetic, we do more than just treat you. We aim to be a true partner on your health, wellness, anti-ageing, and rejuvenation journey. Whether you're looking to enhance your buttocks with a Superficial Gluteal Lifting procedure or explore other options, Profile Aesthetic is the partner for your new look.
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