Heads up on the Brazilian Butt Lift: Urgent Warnings Issued

Perhaps you are proud that you have your great grandma Sylvie’s slender ankles or your dad’s jet black hair. But maybe you also inherited … something you aren’t so fond of. For a lot of women, that something is a flat butt. There are lots of reasons (like celebrity trends) that make people want to change a part of their body, and a flat bottom has women turning to plastic surgery more and more for a procedure called the Brazilian Butt Lift. In 2017, about 20,000 were performed, a number that has doubled in the last five years, with some deadly consequences.

Experts estimate that the death rate after a Brazilian butt lift is as high as one in 3,000. No other cosmetic surgery procedure is associated with such a high death rate. Few surgeries of any kind have such a high death rate. These startling statistics have prompted the world’s prominent plastic surgery societies to come together to form a task force and to issue warnings to plastic surgeons and patients alike. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons issued a press release about the task force just last month (August 2018).

The Brazilian Butt Lift (BBL), also called gluteal fat grafting, isn’t actually a lift procedure at all; rather it involves taking fat, via liposuction, from one part of the body and injecting that fat back into the buttocks. While this may sound simple enough, it is actually a technically difficult procedure, requiring special training.

The fat that is removed has to be processed carefully before it is re-injected, and the method of injection is critically important. The amount of fat, the exact location, and the depth of the injection are all factors that can affect whether blood vessels are damaged in this area. If this happens, even the tiniest piece of injected fat can enter the bloodstream and cause a life threatening clot, called a fat embolism.

In a study published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal, of nearly 200,000 Brazilian Butt Lifts performed, this kind of fat embolism formed and was fatal in 32 cases and non-fatal in another 103. Experts believe these numbers are likely much higher in reality because of under-reporting. Further, because of the increase in popularity of this procedure, many more unqualified practitioners are offering to perform the procedure in poorly equipped settings.

For these reasons, if you are considering this procedure it is more important than ever that you do your homework: understand the risks and verify that whomever you choose to do the procedure is properly trained and licensed. One of the best ways to do that is to make sure your plastic surgeon is board certified and has legitimate hospital privileges. Learn more about how to do that in our post How to Choose a Plastic Surgeon.

It is also a good idea to make sure the surgeon you choose is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). This ensures that he or she is board certified and will be kept up to date on this critical issue. The ASPS is a member group on the newly formed Multi-Society Task Force for Safety in Gluteal Fat Grafting that is focused on studying the Brazilian Butt Lift and making it safer.

“The Task Force continues to review and share additional information on this topic to ensure that ABPS board-certified plastic surgeons and patients are up-to-date on the latest statistics and practices and can make informed decisions with patient safety as the goal.” — American Society of Plastic Surgeons Press Release

Choosing any kind of plastic surgery is a very personal decision. Doing your homework and going in with your eyes open is the best way to get the best possible outcome. If you live in Allen, Texas and have questions about the safety of any procedure you are considering, please contact our office and make an appointment with our board certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Charles T. Slack.