Plastic surgeons say they’re more booked up than ever, as demand for procedures like Brazilian butt lifts break records

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Plastic surgeons said high demand for Brazilian butt lifts (or “BBLs”) has resulted in a record number of cosmetic surgery appointments.

  • Plastic surgeons across the country told Insider they are seeing record numbers of patients.
  • Demand for butt augmentation has increased, per the The Aesthetic Society.
  • Brazilian butt lifts, or BBLs, have gained attention on social media like TikTok.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

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.

New Jersey-based plastic surgeon Dr. Carlos Burnett in office wearing mask and gloves
Dr. Carlos Burnett

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.

Demand for plastic surgery has extended into 2021, according to The Aesthetic Society president Dr. William P. Adams, driven by a high demand for butt augmentation procedures.

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.

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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.”

Plastic surgeon Dr. Norman Rowe sits in his New York City office.
Dr. Norman Rowe

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 doctors quoted in this article said the procedure is safer than in the past, but cautioned prospective patients to find a board-certified doctor who can perform the operation in a hospital and who stays up-to-date with latest safety research.

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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Breast implants may be making some women sick. We followed one woman’s journey to get hers removed.

  • We spoke to more than 100 women who believe their breast implants made them sick.
  • Breast Implant Illness is not an officially recognized diagnosis, but many patients have reported symptoms including panic attacks, vision problems, brain fog, insomnia, and indigestion.
  • We featured one woman in a short documentary about Breast Implant Illness, and recently caught up with her during the process of getting her implants removed.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Removing her breast implants seemed like Tracie Mohler’s only hope. 

She is one of thousands of women who believe they were sick with Breast Implant Illness, describing symptoms such as panic attacks, brain fog, vision problems, insomnia, and other problems.

Breast Implant Illness isn’t officially recognized as a medical diagnosis, but we spoke with more than 100 women who deal with symptoms just like these. After featuring Mohler in a Business Insider Today documentary about the condition, we reunited with her as she went through the lengthy explant process and began her life anew.

Explant surgery is the only way to end the pain for some women.

In July 2020, Insider produced a short documentary about Breast Implant Illness. In it, we featured Tracie’s story and interviewed David Rankin, a Florida plastic surgeon whose schedule is fully booked with explants.

An explant surgery can cost $10,000. Tracie saved up for surgery for six months, but after losing her job and separating from her husband, she was unable to afford the procedure. And when getting surgery seemed impossible, she hit rock bottom.

“It’s not like I want to kill myself to relieve myself from pain, but it’s a thought. It’s there,” Mohler told Business Insider Today.

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Traci Mohler is one of thousands of women who say her breast implants were making her sick.

After the video was published, Rankin called Mohler and offered to do her surgery pro bono.

“When I saw Tracie and how she felt, and didn’t have the ability or the means to pay for her surgery, I decided I would jump in and just help her out,” Rankin said.

“I know she’s been sick and not feeling well for many years now. And she’s ruled out many other illnesses through seeing doctors and really didn’t have anywhere else to turn.”

We caught up with Mohler before she made the trip to Florida from her home in Lake Havasu City, Arizona.

“I hope that I am not tired all the time, not swollen all the time. I hope that I am able to put a sentence together without searching for a word, that I can’t find I hope that I can be a better mom. I hope that I can be successful at work,” Mohler said.

“This man is doing something for me that I can never repay, giving me this chance to get better. I just wanted to thank him from the bottom of my heart, and I look forward to meeting him. And I’m ready.”

See the rest on Business Insider Today »

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