One of the most common questions I get asked in my plastic surgery practice in Tampa, and the most common comment I see on Instagram/Facebook, is “Can’t I get the same results as a Brazilian butt lift just by doing squats?” Because there is so much confusion over this topic, I’ve decided to clear the air once and for all!
But first, a little anatomy lesson… The shape of the butt, and for that matter, the entire body, is determined by three different factors: 1) the bony structure, 2) the length/location and bulk of muscle, and most of all 3) the distribution and volume of fat. A person’s bony structure cannot be changed and is determined by genetics alone. The length and location of muscles cannot be changed; however, muscle bulk can be increased with exercise and/or weight lifting. Fat cells can increase or decrease in size (i.e. volume) depending on a person’s weight, diet, and exercise, but the number and distribution (or rather density) of fat cells does not change after approximately two years of age and is determined by genetics and family history. This explains why some people, for example, seem to carry all their extra weight in their abdomen or thighs- because of their genetics and family history they have a higher density of fat cells, and thus a higher volume of fat, in their abdomen or thighs. Thus, these areas are the first where they gain weight and the last areas from which they lose weight.
Doing squats does not alter the bony structure of the buttocks, nor does it “spot reduce” or increase the volume of fat in the gluteal region. Doing squats DOES increase the muscle bulk of the gluteus maximus, quadriceps, and hamstrings (and to a small degree, some muscles of the back, abdomen, calves, adductors, and the gluteus medius/minimus), but has no effect on the length/location of those muscles. However, as we have now seen, the muscles engaged by doing squats are not the sole, or main, contributor to gluteal shape and volume. The volume and distribution of a person’s fat is the main factor affecting the size, position, and contours of the buttocks, abdomen, and back.
A Brazilian butt lift does not alter the bony structure of the buttocks, nor does it affect the length, location, or size of the muscles targeted by doing squats. However, during a Brazilian butt lift, fat is removed via liposuction from areas of high fat cell density/volume (usually the abdomen, flanks, iliac rolls, and back), and transferred to areas of lower fat cell density/volume (in this case, the lateral hips, buttocks, and sometimes upper thighs). Thus, a Brazilian butt lift is able to sculpt a beautiful, curvy shape for those patients where diet and exercise alone cannot.
It may be surprising to some, but those patients interested in a Brazilian butt lift often do more squats, lunges, and “glute” exercises than anyone else. However, because of genetics and family history, these patients’ bodies typically have shorter gluteus maximus muscles and an unfavorable distribution and density of fat, usually in the abdomen, lower back, and “love handles,” that obscures and distorts the true gluteal shape despite rigorous diet and exercise.
The next logical question, then, is why do some men and women who follow a strict diet and exercise regime, and do a lot of squats, have a perfect butt? That’s because through careful diet and exercise, they are able to capitalize on and augment their favorable anatomy. Because of their genetics and family history, these people often have well-placed gluteal muscles and a lower density of fat cells (which then determines volume of fat) in the abdomen, lower back, and flank areas. Thus, their gluteal shape can be seen and admired more readily!!
So, the short answer then is…for some unlucky people, due to their genetics and family history, doing squats and having a strict diet and exercise program will not provide the same results as a Brazilian butt lift. For those patients with a more favorable anatomy and family history, it can! To see if you are a candidate for a Brazilian butt lift, or any other cosmetic surgery procedure you might be curious about, book a one-on-one consultation with Board Certified Plastic Surgeon Traci Temmen, MD: 813-877-2277