“You’ll Be Happier” (2023) is a 20-minute documentary short film about one woman’s physical and emotional experience of preparing for, undergoing and recovering from a revision Brazilian butt lift surgery, directed and edited by Daniel Lombroso, a member of The New Yorker’s editorial staff.
The film chronicles a female patient receiving a revision butt lift surgery by Dr. Matthew Schulman, after being dissatisfied with her results from the same procedure done a year prior by a plastic surgeon in Florida.
Viewers are taken from preoperative appointments through the surgery itself as director and crew enter the operating room, revealing raw surgical footage and the aftermath of one of the most physically taxing procedures in all of plastic surgery.
The documentary’s title, “You’ll Be Happier,” is a statement made by the surgeon to his patient in a preoperative appointment.
Schulman asks the patient if she has any questions. “Honestly, not really. I’m super excited,” she answers.
“Good, good, good. You’ll be happier,” says Schulman.
Lombroso considered calling the film “Skin Deep,” but cast that aside as “it implied that Jennifer’s pursuit of cosmetic enhancement was superficial.”2NewYorker.com, “Going Public With Plastic Surgery in ‘You’ll Be Happier,'” April 13, 2023
“The first step in creating the film was finding a doctor who wouldn’t balk at a camera in his operating room,” writes Katy Waldman, a staff writer at The New Yorker.
That doctor is Matthew Schulman, a surgeon “who has live-streamed his B.B.L. surgeries on Snapchat” and who posts patients on Instagram “with captions like: ‘Another lucky woman joining the Big Booty Club.’”
Schulman estimates he has performed more than 5,000 Brazilian butt lifts.
B-Roll and Breast Implants
Viewers meet Schulman as he’s filming content for social media.
Thrown a silicone breast implant from offscreen, Schulman says he can “pull it, squeeze it, bite it”—all of which he proceeds to do—“and it’s not gonna break.”
Waldman summarizes this early scene as depicting the “indestructibility” of silicone breast implants: “He twists and bites a glob of silicon to demonstrate its indestructibility.”
A butt lift will make you happy? And breast implants are indestructible?3Surgical Times, “Dropping, Driving Over, Blending, Biting Breast Implants Doesn’t ‘Prove Durability,’” Feb. 25, 2022
“You realize this does not make you look good?,” reads one of the seven comments on Schulman’s Instagram post announcing the documentary three days ago.
“The brazen manner in which you handle the silicon breast implant, as well as the violence of the surgery itself are scary. I think the filmmaker meant to point this out, not document how ‘you made Jennifer happier.’”
BBL Mortality Rates
Introductions to the documentary begin by stating: “The world’s most dangerous cosmetic surgery is the Brazilian butt-lift.”
Schulman believes this to be inaccurate.
“It is simply not true and everyone focuses on a survey in 2017 that had 692 responses out of a possible 10,000 [respondents],” he writes.
The film features a clip of Dr. Anthony Youn citing the 2017 study and sharing its 1-in-3,000 death rate statistic during an October 2020 podcast:
“Up until a few years ago, we thought that this was the safest way to enhance the buttocks…. Unfortunately, studies have now shown that it has the highest mortality rate, death rate, in all of plastic surgery. There is a study that showed that literally one in 3,000 women who undergo this surgery die from it.”4The Checkup Podcast with Doctor Mike, “The Deadly Truth Behind Brazilian Butt Lift Surgery (BBL),” Oct. 24, 2020
“You’ll Be Happier” features a female cosmetic surgery patient whose name is only shared as Jennifer.
Jennifer was a liposuction patient of Schulman’s, 10-11 years prior to the documentary.
In “You’ll Be Happier,” Jennifer is returning to Schulman because she is unhappy with the results of a Brazilian butt lift surgery she had a year prior, in Florida.
Jennifer shares that in her youth, her parents denigrated her appearance and made her feel horrible about herself, leading her to become bulimic. She hadn’t considered plastic surgery until years later, after dating a man who told her she could “look better.”
The revision butt lift is Jennifer’s third plastic surgery procedure. She spent $15,000 on it.
“My last surgery. Never again. Never doing that ever again,” Jennifer says after her revision butt lift.
While the film is cinematically brilliant and while its subjects easily elicit empathy, “You’ll Be Happier” touches on deeply controversial topics, and it’s these that most viewers focus on.
Perhaps it’s exactly the “nuanced and empathetic tone” that director Lombroso envisioned for the film, “to show that he didn’t have all the answers.”
|“If someone I was dating/in love with told me I could look better with plastic surgery I would throw away the whole man.” | @victoriafloro||2,435|
|“It pains me that people go to medical school and residency… earn so much knowledge and life saving skills… to live a life of wealth doing things like this to women.” | @leviahlandau||1,355|
|“This is so incredibly sad. Social Media and photoshop have really destroyed women’s self image. Poor Jennifer. I really hope she learns to love herself and doesn’t need to find validation from others. Surgery is no joke. So sad :(” | @pinkcloudsonmars||1,129|
|“I don’t think that a doctor saying ‘you’ll be happier’ helps AT ALL.” | @amapola_vil||1,070|
Other viewers spoke to the film’s quality and storytelling:
“I thought this was a brilliant and emotional doc. this story was captured beautifully and in the most humanistic way. I loved the perspectives of the woman, the bf, the doctor, the sister…. this was so real it almost felt like a movie. Congrats to all and thank you for this short.” | @suzyshinn
- 1YouTube.com, “The Story of a Butt Lift | You’ll Be Happier | The New Yorker Documentary,” April 13, 2023
- 2NewYorker.com, “Going Public With Plastic Surgery in ‘You’ll Be Happier,'” April 13, 2023
- 3Surgical Times, “Dropping, Driving Over, Blending, Biting Breast Implants Doesn’t ‘Prove Durability,’” Feb. 25, 2022
- 4The Checkup Podcast with Doctor Mike, “The Deadly Truth Behind Brazilian Butt Lift Surgery (BBL),” Oct. 24, 2020