The Surgeon Minute

Playing it Safe During the Big Butt Boom

Playing it Safe During the Big Butt Boom

Some call it butt augmentation augmentation, while others refer to it as the Brazilian Butt Lift. The procedure has taken off significantly in the past few years, thanks largely in part to the growth of fat transfer. Now that fat can quite literally be moved from one body area to the other, surgeons are able to not just add volume to the behind, but sculpt the waist and torso so create a three dimensional enhancement.

When the procedure is done conservatively and well, patients are finding truly transformative results. The problems with buttock augmentation are many, however, and some even lethal. Board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Steven Camp discusses buttock augmentation and how to keep it safe for patients.

What’s the Worst that Could Happen?

If you watch the news, you probably already know the worst case scenario. In the past several years there have been tragic headlines attached to stories of buttock enhancement. More than one young woman has traveled to Miami to undergo the popular procedure and wound up dead on the operating table. This has sparked intense research into the safety of the procedure.

“Safety in gluteal augmentation cannot be understated,” says Dr. Camp. “It seems like it’s a small incision operation, what could possibly go wrong? What we’ve learned is that when we do these introductions of grafts of fat, through needles, that you can actually damage small blood vessels. This can lead to a chain of events that creates problems and sometimes even fatal events.”

Is buttock augmentation safe?

Find a Good Surgeon, Not a Good Deal

It’s often said, “If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” A billboard offering a butt enhancement procedure for a rock bottom price may sound like a great deal, but the truth is, the safest option is rarely the cheapest one.

“The last thing you want to be doing is getting surgery in unmarked strip malls at discounted rates,” says Camp.  “Who knows what safety protocols are in place for patients.”

Select a surgeon who is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). Next, check out their specialty. Not all plastic surgeons routinely do buttock enhancement procedures. Verify that they have extensive experience with the procedure you are most interested in. Finally, look into where the procedure is done. Is it an appropriately accredited facility?

Many of these checkmarks will certainly increase the price of the procedure – in parallel to not only the safety, but also of the results.

The Right Plan & The Right Tools

Where and how the fat is injected into the buttocks are both important factors in determining the safety of the operation.

“There are critical safety elements, some of them anatomic issues, that board certified plastic surgeons are well aware of,” shares Camp. “They know where they can safely inject fat and where to avoid injecting fat. Your surgeon should be able to adequately describe to you, as a patient, where they are going to be working and how that will influence the overall effect off your result.”

The right surgical plan:

  • Avoids known danger zones
  • Ensures safe injection of fat

Surgeons have used a wide variety of tools in the operating room for harvesting and injecting fat.  Until recently, a plastic surgeon’s tool selection was driven primarily by personal preference. However, recent studies by leaders in the field of buttock augmentation have shed light on which tools surgeons should use to reduce the risk of complications.

The right surgical tools:

  • Enhance safety
  • Limit the risk of blood vessel damage

“What we’ve learned is that when we use small, thin, wiry needles to re-inject fat, the needle is prone to misdirection or bending,” explains Camp, who uses rigid, 4mm size cannulas for fat transfer to the buttocks. “The right tools for the right job enhance the safety of the operation and limits the chance that the needle will get bent and pushed into a dangerous area.”

Safe butt augmentation - new cannulas.

Don’t Overdo It

There are nice butts, and then there are really, really big butts. When it comes to fat transfer to the buttocks, avoiding extremes will increase your overall safety.

“I have very few patients that come in and say, ‘Give me Kim Kardashian’s big butt.’ Most of them say, ‘I just want to look more feminine. I want an improved silhouette,’” says Camp.

Buttock augmentation before and after - Steven Camp, MD.

How much is too much?  For Camp, it’s all about respecting the “Golden Ratio.” Divide your waist circumference by your hip circumference and you will arrive at your waist-to-hip ratio. During buttock augmentation procedures, Camp removes fat from the waist using liposuction and injects it into the buttocks to flare out depressions and flat spots. Fat transfer changes the hip-to-waist ratio. For women, .7 is considered to be the ideal or “golden” waist-to-hip ratio.

“Respecting that golden ratio leaves us the ability to do things that are safe with technique and safe in volume,” says Camp. His patients that walk in with hip-to-waist ratios of .8 or .9 are able to undergo gluteal augmentation and end up with a hip-to-waist ratio closer to .7.

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