Is it safe to perform buttock lift treatments? How to best advise your patients

As the number of buttock enhancement treatments increases, so do the horror stories of those gone wrong.

The Brazilian Butt Lift (BBL) has seen a surge in popularity. According to an article published by the Independent in 2018, the amount of patients undergoing the procedure has more than doubled in the last five years.

The buttock lift treatment is a specialised fat transfer procedure that augments the size and shape of the buttocks without implants by transferring fat from other areas of the body into the buttocks/glutes. It is described as being one of the riskiest aesthetic procedures. The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) claimed last year that there is one in 3000 mortality rate following a BBL procedure.

BBLs are risky due to fat being directly injected into tissues that have a blood supply. This can lead to serious complications such as a fat embolism that can arise when fat enters the bloodstream, potentially resulting in a blood vessel blockage.


BBL guidance

 In October last year, at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the BAAPS, all members were advised to stop performing BBL procedures until more data has been collated. The high complication rates led the BAAPS to give members this advice. However, there are no signs of popularity for the procedures slowing down.

The 2017 annual Global Aesthetic Survey, produced by The International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS), saw a 12 per cent rise in the number of BBL procedures taking place worldwide, while the American Society of Plastic Surgeons claim buttock augmentation to be one of the fastest growing cosmetic surgical procedures.

But with rising demand, how can practitioners meet the requests of patients wanting this procedure, without compromising patient safety and risking their livelihood?

Here are some of the non-surgical, subtler alternatives practitioners could offer instead of BBL.


Non-invasive alternatives to BBL


  1. PDO Threads

Polydioxanone (PDO) threads, more commonly used to lift the face, can also be used to lift the buttocks. The threads are inserted in the dermis to form a network to improve structure and flaccidity. They produce an immediate lifting effect due to the tension and oedema they generate, and also induce the formation of new collagen and elastin fibres. When PDO threads are inserted in the buttocks they are absorbed within six to eight months by enzymes, causing hydrolysis of the sutures. This creates a ‘lift effect’, which can last between one to two years.


  1. Dermal filler

Poly-l-lactic acid (PLLA) dermal fillers, which are used for skin and soft tissue augmentation can also be used in the buttocks. PLLA stimulates the body’s own collagen production and is used for volume restoration and skin rejuvenation. Although more commonly used in the face to address laxity and volume loss, practitioners have been using PLLA fillers in the buttocks and achieving good results. The filler needs to be diluted significantly with sterile water, which encourages an even spreading of the product. Depending on the desired level of augmentation, patients will need three treatments, six weeks apart.


  1. Radiofrequency

A buttock lift that improves the firmness and shape of your buttocks can be achieved through radiofrequency treatment. Radiofrequency devices use electrical currents to heat the deep layers of the skin, which boosts collagen production, as well as hyaluronic acid and elastin. The treatment may only give a subtle lift, and therefore works better in combination with other treatments such as threads. At least three sessions of radiofrequency are needed to see optimum results.


With reality stars such a Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner promoting the enhanced derrière, demand will likely remain high. But by offering safer alternatives, your patient’s wellbeing can be better protected.

It is imperative that patients are aware and informed of the risks associated with cosmetic procedures before they are undertaken and that consent is obtained prior to the procedure taking place. It is also important to understand your patient and their needs and motivations adequately before conducting a procedure – are they likely to end up with the results they hope for? If the answer is no, then you should consider seriously the potential implications of going ahead with the proposed procedure, both for the sake of your patient and also your business.

For more information on the importance of patient selection, understanding when to say no to a patient, and how to accurately record patient consent take a look at our new cosmetic guides full of expert advice to help you get it right.





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