Written by Philip Ellis
Cosmetic procedures highlighting “glamour muscles” such as the pecs and abdominals are on the rise among young men. Recently we spoke to one man, “Joe,”—who chose to conceal his identity—who had the “Quarterback Butt” surgery, an increasingly popular glutes augmentation procedure devised by New York plastic surgeon Dr. Douglas Steinbrech. Here, “Joe” spoke to Men’s Health about his experience and what motivated him to get it.
Why did you decide to pursue this procedure?
I have a degenerative athletic injury in two disks in my upper spine, which means I can’t really do any exercises which involve hyperextending my neck: if I were to do a back squat, and push my neck forward with the bar on my shoulders, it would make the inflammation much worse. And that translates to so much lower body work. So I was limited to really static exercises, and prevented from training that part of my body with as much weight as I wanted. So one of the reasons I wanted to get this surgery was specifically because I couldn’t achieve the kind of proportion I wanted with exercise.
Was it just this area you struggled with? What was the rest of your fitness routine like?
I tend to stay physically active and work out pretty prolifically, around four days a week. I do more strength training and lifting than cardio, but my exercise routine before this was pretty well balanced. I just noticed that the more that I put weight on my back or neck, the more pain I would have. Eventually, my doctor just told me: “Put that squat bar down.” Even deadlifts became really difficult for me, because the neck is pressed up, and so when you go down there’s a tendency for the neck to hyperextend. So this surgery ended up being a really good option for me.
Did you consider other options first?
The first option that doctors generally recommend, because it’s less invasive, is the Brazilian butt lift, where they liposuction fat from one area and put it in another. I went to a local doctor who had done a million BBLs, and because I was a pretty fit person, he was like, dude, there’s nothing to take out here. So I got a referral to a specialist, Dr. Steinbrech, and ended up deciding that the gluteal augmentation was the best choice for me.
What was that consultation process like?
The funniest part of the consultation, and certainly the coolest, is they showed me different prototypes of different kinds of glutes, and asked me what kind of body I wanted. Did I want a more muscular butt that has more protrusion, did I want more of a bubble shape, or something in the middle, etc.
That sounds surreal, to pick your new butt out of a line-up.
It wasn’t anything like I expected. I think a lot of times with certain cosmetic surgeries, like a rhinoplasty, people will come in with a picture of their favorite celebrity nose, and they’ll sort of Photoshop that nose onto you and show you what it looks like. But this was very different. I also think it was surreal because you have to imagine yourself in a new way. I also think, um, I also think for me, it was sort of surreal because you kind of have to, like, you kind of have to imagine yourself in a new way.
Were you nervous about the surgery itself?
I think there is a level of anxiety or degree of anxiety that anybody has before you go into surgery, just because you don’t know what your body’s going to look like, and you don’t exactly know what the recovery is gonna look like. Everybody’s recovery was a little bit different. But I knew I was in the best possible hands with somebody who not only specializes in males, but also specializes in this specific type of surgery. And I think that’s the key for men, to really pick a doctor you feel comfortable with and really a practice that you feel comfortable with, because it’s your body.
Do you think there’s still a stigma attached to cosmetic procedures for men?
I think that these kinds of cosmetic procedures are, sadly, pushed more on women and widely accepted. Women face a greater pressure to appear a certain way from a young age, whereas with men, our appearance tends to be less at the forefront of how we develop and grow socially. And so I think there’s this idea because it is so popular with women, that it is not for men, because then plastic surgery becomes something that’s feminized. And I don’t think that’s the case at all.
I think social stigmas and social norms around plastic surgery can invoke a level of shame that really doesn’t belong in the conversation. Because at the end of the day, this is your body and you made this choice for a reason. And I think that’s a big part of the culture that we have to dispel, which is like, Hey, everybody deserves to look and feel great.
Given those double standards, did you tell people you were getting this procedure?
I told the people that were closest to me, certainly everybody that was that I was recovering with. I’m not a fitness influencer, I’m not one of those guys that is necessarily going to make a YouTube video or a tutorial on how to do this. I definitely never felt ashamed. I had some people notice my body looked different and ask what happened. And I was like, yeah, I got my glutes augmented. I think the reason why I didn’t feel the need to broadcast that on Instagram or on social media was just because I didn’t really do this for anybody else.
How long did the operation take?
The procedure took somewhere between four and six hours.
What was the recovery process like?
The recovery itself is like any surgical recovery, in that the first three or four days are the most difficult. I think that the glute augmentation specifically is a more challenging recovery only because that area of the body supports the entire weight of the upper body. So you sort of are cognizant that part of your body is constantly under pressure from your upper body, whether you’re sitting up, laying down, standing up, or walking, your glutes are always active.
Not being able to even sit normally must have been hard.
I can’t lie, the recovery can be challenging. The first four days it’s zero movement, you have to be completely stationary. For me, it was at least two weeks of laying on my stomach, which was difficult. Your neck starts to hurt and you’re in bed for three weeks, and that’s pretty lame.
Did it hurt?
Because there’s an active incision, there is a degree of pain. But the other long-term part of the recovery that takes some getting used to is now there’s a foreign object. Your body has to adapt to having a new entity, the implants, inside of your glutes. And so on top of an incision, you also have kind of this inflammation process that needs to go down and, and to properly go down all the way it takes about two months before you’re really ready to sit down on your butt firmly.
How strange did it feel to have the implants in?
I guess the best metaphor I can use is that it’s like when you’re a kid and you lose a tooth, and your tongue can feel the gap, and you just know something is different. Or like when you get a haircut and catch sight of yourself in the mirror and are surprised by how different you look. And then you casually adjust and adapt, and get used to it. It just feels normal now.
How long did the healing take in all?
I’m about two months out of surgery. I got my surgery on September 10, and I’m able to sit down and function perfectly fine now. Occasionally there is some degree of soreness if I’m sitting on it for too long, but I think one really key factor for anybody that undergoes the glute implant surgery is to know that the recovery is a marathon, not a sprint. You need to take it really easy on yourself and be super gentle.
Did anything about this experience surprise you?
Yes! So with breast implants, which have about a 10-year shelf life, it’s recommended that you get them replaced every 10 years because the silicone is very soft. The great thing about glute implants is that the implant lasts a lifetime. So you actually never need to change that implant, because it’s a more firm silicone; it’s sort of designed to constantly be supporting weight. That was an appealing part of the surgery process and the recovery, knowing that this is it, and I never need to undergo this again. So that was cool. And a fun fact that I didn’t know going in.
Do you feel happier or more confident now that you have the body proportion you were looking for?
Hands down, I feel more confident. And that was the goal. It feels so great to know I made the right choice. I’m definitely more confident. It’s difficult to be a guy that strives to achieve fitness goals and to want to look a certain way and to put in a ton of effort and to constantly kind of be looking at yourself and wish your body reflected all the hard work you’re putting in. So right away, especially when all the bruising is done and everything’s fully formed, you just feel great. And then the other great thing is that my partner loves it. That’s really cool.
Would you consider getting any more work done in the future?
At this time? No, I feel great. There’s nothing about my body that I feel like I need to manipulate or move or nip and tuck. Everything else is shapeable with fitness. This was one specific where I couldn’t achieve the results that I wanted. Maybe in 20 or 30 years, if I am not able to get those results with exercises, I might go for it. But right now, I feel like I look great. I had a really positive experience.
Do you think as times change, men will become more likely to pursue this kind of augmentation?
I just think all men should feel comfortable being able to do what they want with their body, without society trying to shut that down, or label it as feminine, or shame them for wanting confidence. When it comes to body, I don’t think shame ever belongs in a conversation.
And finally, what would you say to somebody who is thinking of getting glutes implants?
The first thing I would say is do your research. The next thing I would say is pick a doctor you feel comfortable with, who treats you like an individual and understands and knows your case. The third is, I’d ask yourself why, why am I getting this? Why am I doing this? And when you ask yourself that question, reach a place that feels really confident and really comfortable for you.
Lastly, I would say do it for you, because you have to be doing this for yourself. This is your body. If you’re going to undergo a plastic surgery, whether it be glute augmentation or the like, make sure you’re doing it for yourself. I think that’s key.
This article first appeared in Men’s Health US.