The 'BBL effect': Plastic surgeons say they're seeing record numbers of patients as people look to lift their bodies - and their booties - out of the pandemic
- Plastic surgeons across the US told Insider they are seeing record numbers of patients.
- Demand for butt augmentation has increased, per the Aesthetic Society.
- Brazilian butt lifts, or BBLs, have gained attention on
social medialike TikTok.
Dr. Carlos Burnett, a plastic surgeon in New Jersey, has appointments booked every day until March 2022.
Burnett said he previously considered his practice busy if he was booked two or more months in advance, even as he services the upscale Westfield, New Jersey, neighborhood. The plastic surgeon said he had not expected the huge spike in surgery bookings after spending months without work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"You don't want to jinx yourself, but it's something that I've not seen in 25 years of practice," Burnett said regarding the high demand for cosmetic surgeries.
Burnett is one of several plastic surgeons who told Insider they are seeing record numbers of patients make appointments for butt augmentation and other procedures as pandemic restrictions lifted this spring.
Facial procedures and Botox saw an unexpected spike in demand during the COVID-19 pandemic, which the American Society of Plastic Surgeons dubbed the "Zoom boom" after more people spent time staring at themselves on video calls.
In 2020, surgeons performed 40,000 butt augmentation procedures that brought in $140 million worth of revenue, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. The number of butt augmentation surgeries - also called Brazilian butt lifts or "BBLs" - increased by 90.3% between 2015 to 2019.
Adams attributed the significant growth of butt augmentation procedures' popularity to celebrity trends and social media. One TikTok purporting to show butt augmentation patients crowding in an airport line has 3.2 million views.
The surgery's new popularity has even led to a meme: the "BBL effect." Coined by TikTok creator Antoni Bumba, the BBL effect is the unbothered confidence of those who have elected to bolster their buttocks.
New York City-based plastic surgeon Dr. Norman Rowe said he's seen a record number of patients inquiring about a BBL. A year ago, Rowe said he got a phone call asking for butt augmentation consultation around three to four times per week; now, he gets multiple calls asking about butt lifts everyday.
Like Burnett, Rowe said his schedule is booked for the next calendar year. His procedure numbers are 30% to 35% higher than last year.
Burnett said he believes demand is up as more of his patients opt to spend their disposable income on plastic surgery than vacations or expensive jewelry. Average national costs for butt augmentation dropped from $5,507 in 2018 to $3,329 in 2020, making the procedure slightly more accessible beyond just the rich and famous, Burnett added.
Brazilian butt lifts have also become safer to perform when done by board-certified plastic surgeons, according to Dr. Mark Mofid, a California-based plastic surgeon and author of the 2017 paper "Report on Mortality from Gluteal Fat Grafting."
Mofid and his team at the Aesthetic Surgery Education and Research Foundation found gluteal fat grafting, or the process of transferring stomach fat to the butt, had a "significantly higher" mortality rate than other cosmetic procedures because surgeons would more regularly inject fat into deep muscle and use smaller surgical instruments.
Since Mofid's paper came out, board certified surgeons have adopted safer methods of performing butt augmentation procedures. Mofid and the
Mofid added he's now the busiest he's ever been in his career. Despite the heavy workload, each plastic surgeon told Insider they don't feel burned out because they are passionate about their work.
"Am I working harder than I was two years ago? Yeah," Rowe said. "Would I trade places with anybody? Not a chance in hell. I love what I do."
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