A Celebrity Plastic Surgeon Reveals the Truth About Butt Implants

New York-based surgeon Dr. Douglas Steinbrech explains the different procedures and how to tell if the famous behinds of stars like Kim Kardashian and Nicki Minaj are real.

We live in a culture that isn't only all about that bass, it's obsessed. Big butts have become a must-have in Hollywood, with Kim Kardashian and Nicki Minaj flaunting their bountiful behinds on IG and rappers constantly shouting out the lady lumps in song. The more we talk about butts, the crazier the rumors regarding famous backsides become — like the one about Amber Rose getting injections, or Nicki's implants exploding. The booty is so en vogue these days, people are going to dangerous (and illegal) lengths to get more curves. With so much hype, we went to a professional to try and make sense of it all.

New York-based plastic surgeon Dr. Douglas Steinbrech gave us the inside scoop on in-demand booties, how to tell if someone's had work done, and what procedures exist to help us pack a little more junk in the trunk.

Do people come to you with someone specific in mind?

Yes, it’s [the] Kardashian and the J.Lo thing.

Which celebs have the best butt, in your opinion?

Jessical Biel, Sofia Vergara, Chris Hemsworth, [and] Bradley Cooper.

What are the different options for butt implants?

Implants are silicone implants – [it's] not like a bag, it’s more like a gummy bear. It’s the same quality as muscle, but it feels like muscle gel which is really what people want. A nice contour for the glutes of their butt. That’s an option for patients that don’t have a lot of fat or patients who have a little fat but want to go further than with what they can do with fat injections. Fat injections are an amazing option because we can use your own body’s fat, and who doesn’t want that? I don’t throw away any fat. For the butt, I take all that fat from the love handles, the abs, that flat tire that women get underneath your belly button. If you just take that fat and pull it out and throw it away, when that patient goes back and has some calories — a cheeseburger at McDonald's — the fatty acids have got to find existing liposites in your body. And that’s why it’s so important to have [them] moved to somewhere where you want them to be. Guess what? When you have a cheeseburger it’s just going to make your booty a little bit bigger.

When did the procedure first become available?

30 years ago. It has really become popular in the last three to five years because of people like J.Lo and the Kardashians and their impact on social media and popular culture, [as well as] songs like Megan Trainor's ["All About That Bass"].

How has social media affected your world?

It’s changing perspectives of what is sexy. Everything was twiggy in the '60s and '70s [when] you wanted to be as skinny as possible. Now our society has gone back to being desirous of people who are more curvy. And even guys — it used to be guys would look at the chest, but now more and more they’re looking at all parts [of a woman] (particularly backsides) and women know it. The other driving thing I see with the men is all these superhero movies. They get inspired by the actors and the transformations. And you see all these men and women doing body transformations on YouTube. That’s done a huge amount for people having that freedom to go to the next level.

Are there non-surgical options for butt work?

Yes, we can firm the tissues using CoolSculpt for shaping. For tightening of the butt we use Fractora Bodytite.

What’s recovery like?

I like [patients] to go for at least one week without sitting on their backside. We want the fat to stay nice and fluffy — we don’t want to have extra pressure placed on that newly planted seeds or liposites, and we need time for vasculogenesis. We need new vessels to grow in and feed the liposites so more of that fat takes, and more of it lasts. [I advise patients to] sleep on their side or tummy and have as much as those seeds we plant taken in and grow really well.

How do you tell if someone has had work done?

Look at the ratio between the waist and their backside. If it looks too good to be true, it’s probably not true. A lot of the time it's Photoshopped – those Kardashian pictures are Photoshopped either by her team or the press because they want to sell newspapers and magazines. The other thing to look at is video, because [that] you can’t Photoshop. It's mainly understanding the proportions. If you have a really tall, skinny, slender girl and suddenly she has a booty that doesn’t match the rest of her body type, that’s an indication.

Do you think the Kardashian sisters have had work done?

I would guess they’ve had a little help.

Kim once X-rayed her butt to prove she didn't get work done. Would anything actually show up if you did that?

An X-ray, US, or CT would show an implant. And it would show fat injections as "micro-cals," which are tiny calcium specs associated with fat injections that can show up on X-ray. The question is whether or not the imaging process is performed and read and confirmed by several independent, board-certified Radiologists.

How do you care for butt implants? Does it affect the amount of physical activity you do?

No, it does not affect the amount, however, for the gym I prefer patients to do more standing glute work like lunges and standing power lifting.

Can butt implants break?

They are semi-solid gel implants, much like a gummi bear candy. They don’t pop like a bag of water.

What are the complications that may occur?

As with any procedure there are risks involved. These risks can be minimized by using a board-certified plastic surgeon operating in an accredited surgical facility. Injections and implants can go wrong, most often when they are done by people who do not specialize in the procedure and don’t have high levels of sterility. I have seen complications from injections where materials that were not FDA-approved were injected by non-medical personnel in unqualified facilities. Do your homework. Know your surgeon. Always choose a surgeon who specializes in the type of procedure you are looking for. For the fat injections, we want to make sure to keep a close eye on you and make sure you follow up with all your doctor’s appointments and you’re on antibiotics for a short period of time. As long as those go well, the chance of having a problem is very low. My best advice always is to make sure you go to a team that does a lot of fat grafting and do not go to someone who doesn’t have their ASPS or isn’t certified. Someone could just see some advertisement and they won’t do the research and it’s gonna be a low price and it ends up being a big mistake.

How do the injections age with you?

After the surgery some of the fat cells don’t survive — you could lose 10, 20, 30 percent — so sometimes we like to overcorrect or put a little more so that at two years they’ll be right where they want to be. Occasionally people will want to come back and do a little more and see if we can find more fat and come back in two, three, five years and put more back there. But it doesn’t happen a lot.

What is the price range for the procedures?

Anywhere from $11,000 to $17,000.

Is there an age you won't perform these surgeries on?

It totally depends on maturity of the patient and their health. Some people are 20 years old, not healthy, and not good candidates. One thing I can say is that young people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s have healthier fat cells that are much stronger and do much better with fat transplantation. So [these] people do take on and maintain many more of the fat cells that we transplant. People in their 50s and sometimes young 60s can do it, however, the number of cells is slightly reduced in terms of how many survive the transfer.

Do men come in for butt implants?

Men want to look like a quarterback so they’ll give me names like Tom Brady. Guys want a more athletic look, and a lot of times get shortchanged. They work on their pecs and shoulders and arms but the legs and butt, even if they work really hard, they can be very tough-starter areas. Guys with more toned abs want the cuts on the sides — the skater lines over their obliques. And then I save all the fat and the fat goes in the glutes to look like an NFL quarterback.

Is recovery different for men and women?

No, it’s not different. However, women are much better about following directions and men tend to take shortcuts. We always make sure to communicate how much time they really need to heal at the consultation, and again just before the surgery and throughout the healing process.

What’s your overall male to female ratio?

With my men’s site, it’s brought up the men to probably 50 percent of my practice. That is extremely different from the national average, which is 10 percent. But I’m passionate about men’s plastic surgery.

Are there any times clients come to you with procedures you absolutely won’t do?

It’s really about the maturity. One challenging area for guys is work down in the midsection, so penile enlargement. There’s a lot of options, but in terms of surgery, it’s very tricky. I stay away from that.

The Gossip Table has more on the world of celebrity plastic surgery.

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