- The Washington Times - Friday, March 7, 2003

NEW YORK — It cost several thousand dollars and she was unable to sit properly for almost a month, but now Lisa Murdoch thinks she has the best seat in the house maybe even the neighborhood.
If magazines and cable TV shows are to be believed, Miss Murdoch is part of a fast-growing trend among American women who opt for buttock augmentation in their quest for the body beautiful in a Jennifer Lopez-style world.
And while the buttock lift a procedure similar to its facial cousin has been around for some time, the new kid grabbing all the attention on the body-contouring block is the buttock implant.
Hailed by one prime-time television magazine as "the breast implants of the new millennium," buttock implants have become a must-have addition to any self-respecting cosmetic surgeon's armory of techniques.
Many now offer the procedure, and one particularly high-profile surgeon from South Carolina, Thomas Harris, has gone so far as to devote a Web site to promoting its benefits: www.betterbuttocks.com.
According to statistics compiled by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, 614 buttock implants were done in 2002. The figure is tiny compared with the 250,000 breast implants, but significant given that the numbers in previous years were so low as not to warrant recording at all.
Society spokesman Adrien Aiache, who performed a dozen buttock implants last year, said the procedure remains relatively uncommon although interest was being driven by hype.
"Between the press and Jennifer Lopez, everyone will want to have a big butt," said Mr. Aiache, who charges between $7,000 and $9,000 for a full procedure.
Mrs. Lopez, it seems, has single-handedly changed what cosmetic surgeons call the "gluteal aesthetic," and the superstar singer-actress's name as well as her equally famous backside crops up regularly when the subject of buttock augmentation is broached.
James Wells, president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, said buttock implants are still rare subjects for discussion in medical journals and scientific forums, but an increasing number of his society's members were putting information on their Web sites.
The procedure involves making incisions inside the crease between the buttock cheeks so as to hide the scars and then inserting solid silicone implants between the main buttock muscles and their covering tissue.
Patients have to wear a "compression girdle" for several weeks to stabilize the area and cannot sit properly until the post-operative swelling goes down.
"It didn't really feel painful, it just felt like somebody had stacked bricks on my butt," said Miss Murdoch, who is in the "fiftyish age zone."
Since the operation at the end of January, Miss Murdoch has become almost evangelical about the benefits.
"[My behind] is as firm and as round and as perky, but not quite as wide. God, is that an awful thing to say?"
Miss Murdoch's doctor, Leroy Young, believes the trend for buttock implants is just gathering steam. "A year and a half ago this was not even on the radar as far as I was concerned," he said. "Now I know people who are doing as many as 10 a month."

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