Rebecca Jennings promises to delve into "How the Brazilian butt lift went mainstream" in a lengthy piece for Vox, though it's not the how, but the what, that ends up being the most fascinating part of her story. The how isn't that surprising—social media, in large part: As Jennings writes, "The BBL silhouette is omnipresent and unmissable," on Instagram and TikTok, "an impossibly tiny middle resting atop a plump bottom and thick thighs." The plastic surgery procedure's mainstream popularity is backed up by figures: the number of BBLs done globally are up 78% since 2015, for instance. And while reports of fly-by-night doctors, many of them in Florida, performing the procedures aren't uncommon, Jennings explains the mechanisms that allow that. In the US, medical doctors can treat patients in any medical field, regardless of their training.
And while a non-board-certified plastic surgeon wouldn't be able to perform plastic surgery for a "hospital or legitimate surgery center, where regulations are stricter," they absolutely can open their own clinic, and there's "no higher board they must answer to." She says the result is a proliferation of often understaffed cosmetic surgery clinics, where the cost is less (as low as $3,000 versus $8,000) and doctors cram in as many BBLs a day as possible, sometimes with dangerous results. And while the before and afters are displayed all over social media, the in-between isn't as discussed. For example: Due to limitations on the amount of fat that can be transferred from the abdomen to the rear, some women would need to have the procedure as many as three times to get the wanted result; a corset-like garment has to be worn for three months; and you need to sleep face-down for six weeks. (Read her full story for many more details.)