BBL surgery results should appear smooth—i.e., the skin surface must show uniformity and there should be a smooth transition between the buttocks and the “adjacent areas” such as the posterior thigh, hips, flanks, and lower back.
BBL, which is an acronym for Brazilian buttock lift, is basically a combination of two procedures: liposuction and fat transfer/injection.
Liposuction is the process of removing the “unwanted” fat, which is then re-used to augment and reshape the buttocks and hips to achieve a more feminine figure.
Fat injection, meanwhile, is the process in which the buttocks and hips are reshaped in a way that they look natural and proportionate to the patient’s underlying anatomy. The final results should also reflect the individual’s cosmetic goals and expectations, which she must be able to describe in details during the preoperative consultation.
Inland Empire plastic surgery expert Dr. Tarick Smiley, who performs over a hundred BBL surgeries every year, says that fat transfer is a meticulous process. Instead of dumping the fats all out once, the use of microdroplet injection technique is critical to achieve smooth results and high survival rate of fat grafts.
Any amount that survives after a few months of fat injection is expected to last a lifetime, he says in one of his recent Snapchat videos.
Dr. Smiley warns that incorrect fat injection and over-filling the buttocks can lead to a gamut of aesthetic-related problems such as cellulites, dents, and sagging appearance.
Cellulites and other skin surface irregularities are generally caused by “disturbing” the fascia system, which resembles a cluster of threads connecting the muscle into the skin.
When too much fat volume has been injected into the buttocks, the extra weight causes the fascia to weaken and the butt cheek to sag. This “problem” can be further aggravated by aging and large weight fluctuations.
To avoid skin irregularities and sagging appearance, Dr. Smiley says he never injects “fat volume that goes beyond the capacity of the patient’s fascia system and other relevant anatomies.”
“The key to achieve natural, proportionate BBL surgery results is to respect and acknowledge the anatomical limits. This core principle has also helped me avoid most known complications,” he says.
To further avoid “unnecessary weight” that could make the buttocks susceptible to sagging, Dr. Smiley says he avoids or at least minimizes fat injection into the lower aspect of the butt cheek, focusing more on the upper half portion and the lateral side (hips) instead.
Facelift for cheek enhancement must address these following problems: hollowness below the cheekbone, sagging of the mid face, and laugh lines (nasolabial folds).
It is important to note that the cheeks can easily reveal a poorly executed facelift. With incorrect direction of pull or excessive tension, the patient can end up with flat cheeks, overly tight mid face, and/or skin pleating behind the ears where the wound is closed with sutures.
To avoid these aforementioned problems, renowned Inland Empire plastic surgery expert Dr. Tarick Smiley explains the critical components of facelift for cheek improvement:
- Going beyond skin pulling and tightening
Dr. Smiley warns that relying too much on skin pulling and tightening can lead to flatness below the cheeks that can appear immediately after surgery or years down the road. For a more stable and natural-looking result, he highlights the importance of “deeper” tissue reposition, which is only possible when the underlying structure beneath the skin (fat, tissue, and muscle) is tightened and reshaped as well.
Dr. Smiley prefers deep plane SMAS technique in which the fat, connective tissue, and muscle are all being lifted to achieve natural and long-lasting results.
The SMAS technique has also been known to prevent flatness of the cheek, sunken mid face, and other surgical stigmata, he further explains.
- Volumizers in the form of fat transfer
Fat and tissue reposition alone has no or very little effect on patients with gaunt appearance due to advancing age or inherited feature. For this reason, Dr. Smiley often incorporates fat transfer in his facelift surgeries for a more natural, three-dimensional rejuvenating effect.
Fat transfer not just corrects the hollowness below the cheekbone; it can also create a smooth transition between the lower lid and cheek, and soften the laugh lines.
Buttock implants under the muscle or at least within this anatomical layer has been known to provide softer, more natural results compared to a placement technique in which the prostheses lie above the muscle.
Placing the buttock implants above the muscle, with only the skin and fat “supporting” their weight, is known to increase the risk of sagging (inadvertent displacement) and palpability.
Leading Inland Empire plastic surgeon Dr. Tarick Smiley warns that the skin’s elasticity means it may stretch over time and lead to implant displacement and other surgical stigmata; hence, he always places buttock implants under the muscle or at least within this layer.
Furthermore, the under the muscle is known to minimize risk of infection especially in the event of poor healing since the muscle itself can serve as a protective barrier.
From the aesthetic point of view, buttock implants under the muscle technique can provide a more natural appearance—i.e., an S-shaped “behind” when viewed from the side.
Nonetheless, achieving natural and proportionate results also entails careful examination of the patient’s buttock dimension. The goal is to use implants that are within the anatomical boundaries, which in turn can also prevent skin thinning, implant malposition, and poor wound healing.
(Note: Patients of average frame are generally advised to stick to buttock implants whose size range is not more than 400 cc to prevent excessive tension on skin. It is important to note that too much tension is closely linked to poor healing and increased palpability.)
All buttock implants are positioned above the “sitting” area and so only the upper half of the butt is actually augmented, while its side (hips) and lower aspect receive no or very little improvement. For this reason, some patients may need a simultaneous fat transfer or fat grafting.
Incorporating fat transfer (which always starts with liposuction to collect fats) also allows the surgeon to “carve out” a more feminine contour by removing the excess fats along the flanks and lower back, says Dr. Smiley.
Liposuction uses a small hollowed tube inserted into tiny round incisions to remove the excess fat adjacent to the buttocks, further improving the contour and profile of the butt cheeks, he adds.
The collected fats from liposuction could be used to reshape the hips and lower aspect of the buttocks for a more proportionate, curvier silhouette, says Dr. Smiley.
The truth is, the most difficult part of recovery from facelift surgery is not actually the pain, which is fairly manageable, but the social downtime.
It is important to note that social recovery from facelift varies significantly from patient to patient due to factors such as individual healing, predisposition to bruising and swelling, type of surgery and use of ancillary procedures, and quality of postop care.
Inland Empire plastic surgery expert Dr. Tarick Smiley explains some of the most pertinent issues involving social recovery from facelift.
- Advance planning is critical
Patients who are planning for a big social event (e.g., wedding) are generally advised to have their surgery performed 1-2 months earlier just to be on the safe side. But for individuals who do not mind being seen with some mild “outward symptoms”, which can be easily hidden by camouflage make-up, a 1-2 week social recovery will generally suffice.
Some patients are able to return work (only desk job) after a week or so after surgery, although most will need at least two weeks before they look “presentable.”
After 1-2 weeks postop, most patients can use camouflage make-up to hide the bruising and swelling and some discoloration around the edge of the incision that remains on the face and/or neck.
- Winter might be a good way to schedule one’s surgery
The bulkier ensembles worn in cold weather (e.g., turtle neck tops and scarves) can make it easier to hide the outward signs of facelift. Furthermore, winter coincides with longer holiday season (Christmas and New Year), allowing the patient to have a longer time off.
- Avoid strenuous activities for a minimum of three weeks
While most patients already look presentable in 1-2 weeks postop, it remains important to avoid rigorous activities and heavy lifting for a minimum of three weeks because increase in blood pressure and heart rate can aggravate the swelling and bruising, which of course leads to longer social recovery from facelift.
- Control risk factors linked to increased swelling and bruising
Smoking, aspirin, hypertension (or any other types of medical condition linked to higher risk of bleeding), and strenuous activities before complete healing can lead to increased swelling and bruising and thus longer social recovery.
Meanwhile, head elevation, superb diet (low sodium, high protein, and more fresh fruits and vegetables), good hydration, and light activities (walking instead of bed rest) can help promote healing.
Travel for tummy tuck requires advance planning to avoid risk of complications, particularly relating to deep vein thrombosis. The problem with long travels (by plane or car) is the prolonged immobility, which could lead to blood clot in legs and more serious problems such as pulmonary embolism.
Inland Empire plastic surgery experts explain the basic guidelines to make travel for tummy tuck a safe endeavor.
- Wait at least a month before traveling by plane.
Many surgeons suggest postponing long flights for at least four weeks to avoid blood clots. Furthermore, staying within the immediate vicinity of the doctor’s office will allow him to monitor and ensure that his patient is healing nicely.
- Possible use of low-dose blood thinner.
Should the patient need to travel by plane sooner than ideal, some doctors recommend a low dose of blood thinner (aspirin) to reduce risk of deep vein thrombosis. “Waiting” nonetheless remains to be the best option.
- Perform light activities such as walking.
Most out of town patients can travel by car around two weeks postop. However, certain precautions are needed to prevent or at least reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis. The general rule of thumb is to take several stopovers to stretch and walk around.
Good blood circulation through light exercise is one of the best defenses to prevent deep vein thrombosis. Furthermore, it can minimize the effects of narcotic painkillers such as constipation and lethargy.
- A capable adult must always accompany the patient.
Travel by plane means rushing from one airport to the next with a heavy luggage in tow. It is important to avoid strenuous activities, bending from the waist, and over exertion for 3-4 weeks to prevent complications. For this reason, it always makes a sense to bring a friend or family member along when traveling for plastic surgery.
Also, driving is inadvisable when under narcotic painkillers, which cause poor coordination and drowsiness. Just to be safe, patients must have someone to drive them home.
- The patient should build good rapport with a local primary care physician.
Travel for tummy tuck requires advance planning, which typically includes finding a local primary care physician ideally before to the operation. He may be the one to order a pre-op physical exam and fax its results to the plastic surgeon to rule out any medical condition.
The local primary care doctor will also monitor the patient for up to 2-3 months to ensure the latter is healing nicely.