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BBL Recovery Tips

BBL Recovery

BBL recovery is hard.  There are so many things that you can’t do, and you have a ton of questions about it.  Here are some answers to the most common questions.

Why Can’t You Sit?
Why Do Some Doctors Tell You It’s OK?

These are probably the two most common questions about BBL surgery.  Doctors give seemingly conflicting advice on what to do after surgery.  Who is right?  Should you not sit for 8 weeks, 6 weeks, 4 weeks, or can you just sit right away?

Understanding the Process

The answer is a bit complicated, and we need to understand some principles of anatomy and physiology first, so let’s start there.

All cells, fat cells included, require blood vessels to be very, very close to them to survive.  (Ideally, each cell should be no more than 4 cells away from a blood vessel.)  Blood vessels provide food and oxygen to the cells.  Just like us, if they can’t get those things, they will die.

In a fat transfer, fat is harvested from another area of the body via liposuction.  (Read here for liposuction facts they don’t tell you.)  It is then put into another area of the body such as the breasts, butt cheeks, or even the face.  Since these newly transferred cells do not have their own blood supply, the tissues have to be treated very gently for several weeks.

A good analogy of this would be if you think of a potted plant.  You want to put it in a bigger pot, so you start by adding some soil to the pot, then transfer the plant and put more dirt around it.  All of that new dirt is like the transplanted fat.  Over time, the roots of the plant grow into the new dirt.  The roots are like blood vessels.  

Until the blood vessels have grown into the new fat, it is necessary for the cells to survive on food and oxygen that just happens to wander far enough over to the area for them to grab ahold and use them.  

If you put prolonged pressure on the area of the transfer (such as by sitting) this keeps the food and oxygen from being able to “wander” over to the transplanted cells.  This causes the cells to die.

So, Then Why Do Some Doctors Say It’s OK to Sit?

This probably sounds contradictory, but it isn’t necessarily.  

Some doctors do injections of fat directly into the muscle.  The blood supply there is already in place, so the fat is well-fed and oxygenated immediately.  In this case, sitting is generally regarded as ok.

Why then, don’t all doctors just inject into the muscle?  Why make patients go through all the standing for so many weeks?

That’s a good question.  It’s because the fat graft into the muscle is extremely dangerous and is not recommended by the American Board of Plastic Surgeons here in the US.  The next section addresses this issue.

Did You Know?
BBL Surgery is The Most Dangerous Plastic Surgery

It is true that BBL surgery is the most dangerous surgery due to the high risk of fat embolism.  This is where fat that is injected gets into a vein and travels to the heart, lungs, or brain.  It is a deadly complication.

In the US there are guidelines for BBL surgery, known as a gluteal fat transfer.  You can read the specifics of those recommendations here:  Gluteal Fat Grafting Safety 

Which is True?
4, 6, or 8 Weeks of Not Sitting

Each doctor who performs a BBL will have a recommendation of how long you should not sit on your butt.  Of course, you want to follow the instructions your doctor provides because he or she knows what was done in your particular surgery.

The 4 week mark is the point at which the *average* person’s fat is properly vascularized (blood and lymphatic vessels have grown nearby) and that the fat can tolerate very gentle pressure.

Unfortunately, the word average means that half of the people are faster, and about half are slower.  A more reasonable timeframe is 6 weeks. 

So, why do some doctors tell you to wait until week 8 or 12?  The general consensus is that they are over-shooting knowing that most people will not reach that far and they are hoping their patients will make it to the 6 week mark.

Still Have Questions About
Your Plastic Surgery Recovery?

There is so much to know about recovering from plastic surgery.  To that end I have written a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page about Plastic Surgery Recovery to help put you on the right path.