Did Kim Kardashian’s butt really #BreakTheInternet? If you’re reading this, then no. Still, it came close, which is doubly impressive considering that she famously got a butt x-ray in 2011 to prove her booty is God-given, and not the result of surgery.
Butt implants are more popular than ever, and since this is the year of the booty, they’ll surely become even more common. Here’s the story of how this medical technology developed…
Breast implants have been around since the 1890s , but butt implants first appeared in medical journals (and pants) around 1969. Dr. RJ Bartels is credited as the first to successfully plump a posterior.
The first butt implants weren’t exactly a hit. Dr. Bartels and his team used the original “Cronin-Gerow” silicone breast implant, its shape inspired by a standard medical blood bag . The look was not convincing, most likely because butts and boobs are different parts of your body.
The next generation of fake butts wouldn’t stay in place. A year later, pioneering Mexican doctor Mario Gonzalez-Ulloa swapped out the silicone-filled Cronin-Gerow model for a more shape-defining prosthetic , which lifted up the entire butt. This was an improvement, but because the implants were simply inserted between the skin and the gluteus maximus muscle, it was not particularly stable. Like, you could rearrange your new butt if you pulled hard enough. Yikes. So they had to go deeper.
The buttocks have several layers, from the outer skin to the three layers of gluteal muscles. Sticking a prosthesis between the skin and the gluteus maximus wasn’t working, so Argentinian surgeon Jose Robles realized: Why not go between two of those muscle layers?
That’s exactly what he did in 1984 . Robles’ “submuscular gluteoplasty” is both the least sexy way to describe a booty procedure, and — up until that point — the most effective kind. The implant went between the outermost and middle layers of muscle, which led to fewer complications. It’s not the easiest surgery to perform, though, so it didn’t set the world on fire.
Butts changed forever in the ’90s
In 1992, Sir Mix-A-Lot released “ Baby Got Back .” Later in the decade, Jennifer Lopez came to prominence…and butt implants took a bold leap forward. Coincidence? You decide.
Dr. Raul Gonzalez, who literally wrote the book on buttocks reshaping (it’s titled “Buttocks Reshaping”), credits Dr. Rafael Vergara with a new butt augmentation technique, the “intramuscular implant,” which caught on in Mexico and South America. It “has a low incidence of complications,” while “larger implants may be used than with the submuscular technique, which many patients request,” concluded the journal Clinics in Plastic Surgery in 2006. This mostly gave way to “subfascial implants,” closer to the surface but with more stability than earlier attempts, which gave way to a whole lot more junk in trunks.
In truth, butts were never going to tolerate artificial implants. Your butt is too important for movement and weight distribution, and incurs too much movement, for some lil bag of silicone to last. The solution: Your own fat.
The same year “Baby Got Back” came out, the first dermal-fat grafts were written up in scientific journals. “Autologous fat transfer” essentially meant taking fat from places where it’s unwanted and grafting it to your butt to make it look better. There are many variations, but it boils down to this: A doctor sticks a tube in your tummy, thighs, hips, or other fatty area, then sucks out the fat , medically treats it, and reinjects it into your booty. If you don’t think science is amazing, you’re wrong.
Perhaps because it originated in South America, the modern buttocks augmentation surgery is generally called a “Brazilian butt lift.” It’s also not technically a lift; it’s more like filling up a balloon with all-natural fat. Whereas old butt surgeries would knock you on your ass for 5-7 days, and were often marred by scarring and post-operative infections, the current technique can be done in as little as 90 minutes. You’ll be shakin’ your thang on the dance floor in almost no time…but wait however long your doctor orders.
Today butt augmentation has goes mainstream. Nearly 10,000 Americans augmented their booties last year, a 16% increase from 2012, according to NBC News. With Kim K and her cohorts redefining standards of booty and beauty, it’s likely to keep increasing. By the way, it’s not just for ladies; several surgeons say they’ve made male booties bigger too.
Whatever your gender, it’s not cheap. Butt procedures carry an average price of $4,100 to $4,500, and you might wish you’d stayed with your natural shape instead of trying to look like a celebrity. No returns, even if it has a crack in it.