The Surgeon Minute

BBL: It’s About Shape, Not Volume

BBL: It’s About Shape, Not Volume

The buttocks are a crucial element of the body’s contour, working in unison with the waist and thighs to decide bodily shape. Historically, this area of the physique had been overlooked and underutilized, that is besides problematic buttock implants. Thanks to the breakthrough technology of fat grafting, and celebrities like Kim Kardashian, the derrière has definitely moved to the head of the class!

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), buttock augmentations increased 26% in the last year. While buttock augmentations, or Brazilian Butt Lifts (BBL), are incredibly popular, they are also often misunderstood. Dr. James Namnoum of Atlanta discusses the real purpose of a BBL: It’s not about volume; it’s about shape.

BBL Is a Two for One

“The buttocks have often been under-appreciated as an element of the human physique that can be enhanced,” explains Dr. Namnoum. This outlook is rapidly changing, thanks to fat grafting.

Fat grafting to various parts of the body such as the face, the hands, and the breasts is an increasingly popular and common procedure. Patients like the idea of using their own fat as opposed to an artificial filler to increase volume because:

  • it’s natural and from your own body
  • there is less chance of an adverse or allergic reaction

In the past, buttock augmentations were performed with an implant. Now, surgeons prefer to use a patients’s own fat, and it makes perfect sense. “It’s a twofer,” says Dr. Namnoum. The surgeon removes excess fat with liposuction from an area where the patient doesn’t want it. The abdomen and thighs are two of the more popular spots. Then, he or she grafts that fat into an area where the patient needs it.

BBL is About Contour, Not Just Volume

There is no doubt that “celebrities guide a lot of what happens in cosmetic surgery,” says Dr. Namnoum. This is particularly true when it comes to the butt. Patients will often come in with photos of movie starts and singers whose back sides they admire. Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce and Jessica Biehl are three favorites. While these photos can be a great tool for the plastic surgeon, patients don’t always understand that a buttock augmentation is not simply about increasing volume.

BBL options.

A BBL is ultimately about enhancing the shape of the buttocks. Dr. Namnoum will often have patients say to him that they don’t want their butt to be any bigger. The point of a buttock augmentation is not to make a butt bigger like the name implies, but to make it more shapely. “There’s the magic,” explains Namnoum. Especially when considering that the fat providing volume is removed from the waist and outer thighs, this shifting of mass dramatically increases the buttock contour.

BBL Benefits

A BBL or buttock augmentation can:

  • lift the buttock
  • correct the sag that leads to the banana roll under the thigh
  • reshape the buttock
  • enhance or correct the projection of the buttock

BBL before and after - Namnoum.

Volume is simply the tool for achieving an ideal contour for the patient. In fact, a successful BBL is sometimes about taking volume away from the sides of the buttock and adding it to the center part of the buttock. This is referred to as a buttock augmentation by subtraction. Dr. Namnoum will remove tissues around the hip and outer thighs to literally unmask the buttock, or he might take a small amount of the fat and enhance the upper portion of the butt where it meets the lower back to create that curve that so many women desire.

The Harmony of BBL

It is a mistake to think of a buttock augmentation solely as a volume enhancement. It’s a rejuvenation. It’s about creating contour where it didn’t exist, and remaking your derrière to produce harmony. The breasts, the abdomen, the hips and the buttocks all work together. A good plastic surgeon is always looking at the patient as a whole, not as a series of isolated parts.

BBL before and after 2 - Namnoum.

Oftentimes, patients will come in complaining that they don’t like their breasts or their abdomen. They don’t realize that fixing the abdomen may be achieved by augmenting the buttocks. A good plastic surgeon always looks at the patient circumferentially; body contouring is about sculpting a patient in three dimensions. “We want to sculpt the breasts, the abdomen, the thighs and the buttock. We want to create a harmonious whole. We want to bring balance to the entire body,” explains Dr. Namnoum.

3D Imaging

In order to help both the patient and the surgeon understand what options are available for achieving this harmonious ideal, 3D imaging is a must. It allows the surgeon to take a photo of the patient and then project that image up on a screen where it can be manipulated. With a 3D image, Dr. Namnoum can subtract and add volume to various areas of the body to show the patient what she would like with, for example, a buttock augmentation.

The ancient sculptors understood that all the various parts of the torso were interrelated. In a way, plastic surgeons are modern sculptors. As Dr. Namnoum explains, “we are trying to create the same kind of beauty and form and symmetry that our ancient artist friends did.”

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