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Does This Surgery Make My Butt Look Big?

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Updated: 12/06/2012 12:50 pm

April 28, 2010 (Washington, D.C.) -- First there was J. Lo. Then Beyonce, Rihanna, and Kim Kardashian started strutting their stuff on stage and on screen. As a result, plastic surgeons’ phones began to ring off the hook with women looking to put a little more junk in their trunks.

In a year where cosmetic surgery procedures decreased, buttock augmentation and butt lifts were on the rise, according to the latest statistics from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS). In fact, butt augmentation jumped by 37.3% from 2008 to 2009 and butt lifts increased by 24.6% that year.

The reasons for the uptick include more curvaceous role models as well as new options for buttock enhancements, say experts speaking at the ASAPS annual meeting. The new options include fat grafting, which involves taking fat from places where it is plentiful -- such as your thighs -- and injecting it into areas where it is not -- such as your buttocks.

“Part of the reason is that we are starting to get better at them,” says Felmont F. Eaves III, MD, ASAPS president and a plastic surgeon in Charlotte, N.C. “We now have several ways that we can enhance buttock shape and more tools to customize the procedure and get a good result.”

Buttock augmentation can be performed using fat injections, solid silicone implants, a lift, or some combination thereof. Another option involves creating a tissue flap from the buttock region to use as an implant. Basically, surgeons move tissue from a part of the buttocks where you don't need it, and secure it in an area where it will enhance your derriere.

“This field is advancing very rapidly and we are making a lot of progress figuring out which patients do best with what procedures,” Eaves tells WebMD.

Who’s Behind the Uptick?

“Buttock enhancement may be an ethnically desired trait,” Eaves says. It is also popular among women of South or Central American descent and women who have lost massive amounts of weight, such as after bariatric surgery.

“Some people can lose weight and end up with zero bottom, so adding volume back is helpful and can make them feel more normal and comfortable when sitting down,” he says.

“We can credit J-Lo as having influenced this category,” says Wendy Lewis, a New York City-based plastic surgery consultant and author of several books, including Plastic Makes Perfect.

“There is a new focus on body-shaping procedures among consumers, and buttock augmentation is definitely on the rise with the advent of better methods for fat grafting,” she tells WebMD. By contrast, buttock implants are less desirable and their results are not as predictable, she says.

“Most consumers prefer the idea of using their own fat to create a soft and natural shape and contour to the buttock region,” she says. What’s more, “many people want some of the fat removed from their thighs or tummies during liposuction, transferred to where they need volume -- such as the buttocks, breast, and face.”

Justin Yovino, MD, a plastic surgeon in private practice in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., says people have been calling his office to inquire about buttock enhancement procedures. He spent some of his time at the recent ASAPS meeting taking courses on how to perform buttock enhancement.

“South Florida has a heavy Latin flavor and is really a gateway to South America, where the culture is to have a little more junk in the trunk,” he says. “Curvy and shapely bodies are more in than the rail thin, straight-line look,” he says.

Yovino plans to begin offering fat injections to the butt. “I think it’s safe and allows us to mold better than we could using a single implant,” he says.

Junk in the Trunk?

Safety should always come first. There are some charlatans out there who will inject just about anything -- including the industrial silicone used to caulk bathtubs -- into behinds.

“It costs $3 a tube, and it’s just tragedy because these things are not tissue compatible,” Eaves says.

In general, off-the-shelf fillers such as collagen and hyaluronic acid do not have a place in butt augmentation, Eaves says. These fillers could be used off-label for butt augmentation, but it would be so expensive for the volume needed to augment the butt.

“These are surgical procedures and there is no evidence that non-invasive technology has a place in butt augmentation,” he says.

Protect yourself by choosing a board-certified plastic surgeon and asking to see and read the package of the product the surgeon is recommending, he says.

“We are seeing disasters,” says Renato Saltz, MD, immediate past president of the ASAPS and a plastic surgeon in Salt Lake City. “You need to identify somebody with experience, as this is a very specialized procedure. Look for a surgeon who does a lot of body contouring.”

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