The Surgeon Minute

Getting to the Bottom of the Rise of Butt Enhancement

Getting to the Bottom of the Rise of Butt Enhancement

Butt enhancement procedures are on the rise. While many surgeons may attribute the changing desires of plastic surgery patients to Kim Kardashian or Jennifer Lopez, board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Daniel Del Vecchio believes there is much more to the story.  

Del Vecchio makes the case for a deeper, culturally-rooted motivation behind the rise in butt enhancement procedures. First, he explains cultural variations in beauty standards and then he points toward an economic shift in disposable income as the driving force behind the booty boom.  

Butt enhancement - product of culture?

Calculating the Hourglass Figure

You know your shoe size, your waist size and your breast size – but do you know your butt size? Most people regularly refer to their butts as “too big,” “too flat,” or “too small.” The truth is, your butt also has a number attached to it. The number is based on a ratio called the waist to hip ratio.

Steps to Calculate Your Waist to Hip Ratio:

  1. Measure Your Waist: Place a tape measure around the narrowest part of your waist.
  2. Measure Your Hips: Place a tape measure around the widest part of your hips.
  3. Divide Your Waist Measurement by Your Hip Measurement.

When it comes to measuring your booty, the size of your waist is just as important as the size of your hips. In general, the ideal waist to hip ratio is right around .7, says Del Vecchio. When someone has a waist to hip ratio of .7, it means that their waist is about 70% of the width of their hips.

The booty is all about curves. As the waist to hip ratio approaches one, there is less curve to your figure. “You could take that waist to hip ratio and take it down to .6, or you could take that hip to waist ratio and take it up to .9,” explains Del Vecchio. “Now, if someone’s got a completely square body – their waist and their hip are the same – I would tell you nobody thinks that’s beautiful.”

Enhancing the Ratio Versus Enhancing the Butt

In the past, butt enhancement procedures were all about implants. While implants provide patients with a bigger booty, they do not address the other half of the equation – the waist.

Today, butt enhancement is often accomplished with fat transfer. In a procedure commonly known as the Brazilian Butt Lift,  surgeons remove fat from the waist  – providing patients with a smaller waist measurement, and add that same fat to the butt – enhancing the patient’s hip measurement. “Sometimes, all you need is a little bit of waist narrowing with comparison to the hip, and you’re good,” says Del Vecchio.  

Butt enhancement before and after.

Different Cultures, Different Curves

“The width of the hips, compared to the width of the waist, varies widely among different cultures,” points out Del Vecchio. “In West Africa, your aesthetic is going to be a very wide hip, and an extremely narrow waist. If you’re in Finland, your waist and your hip might be off by very little, because big hips aren’t prevalent in the northern European latitudes.  This is all about culture, aesthetics, and its different around the world.”

Del Vecchio believes this difference in emphasis on curves initially stemmed from climate differences between cultures. He suggests that the closer a culture is to the equator, the more emphasis they traditionally placed on curves when seeking out a mate.

Eskimos in a cold climate didn’t analyze mates based on their hourglass figures, he proposes, because their figures were covered in animal hides. On the other hand, he points out that cultures closer to the equator spent more time naked. “When you see the body more, there’s more pressure on finding a body that’s aesthetically pleasing,” concludes Del Vecchio.

An Economic Shift toward a Bigger Booty

According to Del Vecchio, the emphasis on a curvy butt is nothing new to many cultures. He believes the shift in the popularity of butt enhancement procedures is not a sign of a shift in beauty standards. Instead, he identifies the shift as being related to a shift in patient base.

Butt enhancement with fat grafting.

“It’s a phenomenon that only occurred because we have a new middle class. The phenomenon is fueled by an economic shift in disposable income, more than it is some innate cultural change. These cultures have always felt this, but they didn’t have the means to do it,” asserts Del Vecchio. “The white dominated plastic surgery customer base was focused on things like breasts, eyelids and facelifts.”

While Del Vecchio doesn’t believe the butt enhancement boom was caused by a shift in beauty standards, he doesn’t deny the possibility of a shift in cultural beauty standards as a result. “I think what will happen is, over time, more and more Caucasian patients will also seek buttock enhancement. They may not go for the same waist to hip ratio, but they will want to have some type of improvement in the shape of their buttock.”

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