No buts about it: Buttock augmentation is a fast growing trend in plastic surgery

Jen Selter, an American fitness model who achieved fame because of the belfies she posted on Instagram.

Botox and boob jobs are the two most popular cosmetic procedures performed worldwide, but by far the fastest growing surgery is buttock augmentation, or gluteoplasty - a procedure performed to create the kind of shapely derrière for which celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez and Nicki Minaj are famed.

There is clearly a trend towards the curvaceous. One American “fitness model”, Jen Selter, was featured in April’s Vanity Fair magazine thanks to the popularity of her butt selfies or “belfies” on social media. And there are plenty of other celebrity belfies if you care to look for them; women are now proud to put their substantial assets on display.

For those who feel inclined to enhance their natural features, buttock augmentation entails placing silicone implants under, in between or above the gluteal muscle, according to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (Isaps) website.

Almost 64 000 buttock augmentation surgeries were performed by plastic surgeons in Brazil in 2013 - that’s 20% of the 320 000 procedures done worldwide, and an increase of over 400% on the number of procedures performed in 2010, according to figures released in July by the Isaps.

Mexico (38 000) and Colombia (22 000) were the seats of the second and third most gluteoplasties, and the United States came in fourth with 12 000 ops.

What's happening in South Africa?

There hasn’t been a big demand for buttock augmentation in South Africa. In fact, there’s probably an increased demand for buttock reduction by means of liposuction, said Dr Chris Snijman, national secretary for the Association of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons of Southern Africa.

Detailed South African data was not included in the Isaps report, but, according to Dr Snijman, the most popular cosmetic surgeries in this country are:

  1. 1. Breast Augmentation
  2. 2. Blepharoplasty -  or eyelid surgery which tightens drooping upper eyelid skin and reduces bags under the eyes.
  3. 3. Liposuction
  4. 4. Breast reduction and breast lift
  5. 5. Fat transfers
  6. 6. Abdominoplasty and body contouring - also known as a tummy tuck.

The most popular non-surgical procedures are:

  1. 1. Botox
  2. 2. Fillers
  3. 3. Chemical peels, microdermabrasion and micro needling.

What's happening in the rest of the world?

South Africa is very much in line with world trends. Injections of botulinum toxin - a neurotoxin used to remove wrinkles by temporarily paralysing muscles - was by far the most popular non-surgical procedure in all the countries surveyed by Isaps except Italy, where injections of fillers, such as hyaluronic acid and collagen, to reduce wrinkles, were more popular.

Over five million botox procedures were performed last year; about a quarter of them in the United States.

In fact, about eight in every 100 people in the United States underwent some form of non-surgical cosmetic procedure in 2013. This includes the injection of fillers, laser hair removal, chemical peels, dermabrasion and other procedures, as well as botox.

Globally, breast augmentation was the most performed surgical cosmetic procedure performed by plastic surgenons in 2013. The United States also registered the most breast augmentation surgeries - just over 300 000 or 18% of the ops done worldwide. Brazil followed with about 230 000 ops, or 13% of the world total.

When it comes to cosmetic surgery, however, Brazil is a cut above. An estimated seven in every 100 people went under the knife in that country in 2013. Liposuction, breast augmentation and breast lifts were the three most commonly performed ops.

Use the graphic below to explore the Isaps data, which includes the number of surgical and non-surgical procedures performed in 2013 for the top 10 countries for which it considered the data to be representative.

Together these countries represent 43% of the total global surgical procedures and 40% of the non-surgical procedures performed in 2013.

Top 10 for men and women

Women had 87% percent of the 23-million cosmetic procedures performed worldwide in 2013.

When it comes to non-surgical procedures, botox and fillers were numbers one and two for both sexes. Number three for women was facial rejuvenation, and for men, it was laser hair removal.

But the sexes aren't so similar in their choice of cosmetic surgeries, according to Isaps’s research.

The three most popular surgeries for women in 2013 were breast augmentation, liposuction and eyelid surgery. For men, nose jobs came out tops, followed closely by male breast reduction and then eyelid surgery.

Penis enlargement came in at number 13, but is included in the top 10 for men barchart below for interest's sake.

Which countries have the most plastic surgeons?

Thirty countries were ranked for the number of plastic surgeons they were estimated to have by the Ipsas. Explore the graphic below to see the information. South Africa was not included in the Isaps list because it did not consider the data it received for its 2013 sufficient to be statistically reliable. However the Association of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons of Southern Africa gave its membership at 115, so this number was used in the graphic for comparison purposes.

Note: The Isaps data includes only procedures done by board certified plastic surgeons, not those done by other medical professionals such as dermatologists or ear, nose and throat specialists.