Dr. Michele Shermak, a board-certified plastic surgeon, speaks out about Brazilian Butt Lift deaths in Miami, FL.
A Brazilian butt lift (or BBL) removes excess fat from the back and waist, which is injected into the buttocks. The result is a beautifully enhanced curvy silhouette and more rounded, firm buttocks.
Dr. Shermak can confirm that while most BBL procedures are carried out safely with impactful results, deaths associated with the surgery have been reported. More specifically, the highest BBL deaths have been reported in Miami, which you can read more about in this
Bloomberg news article. What is a Brazilian Butt Lift (BBL)?
A Brazilian butt lift volumizes and tones the buttocks in a way that is difficult to achieve with exercise alone. While Dr. Shermak can augment the buttock region with a surgical implant, a Brazilian butt lift is performed with a more organic process known as fat transfer. Fat from another area of the body, typically the back, hips, stomach, or thighs, is isolated and injected into the buttocks. The buttock becomes the new “home” for this fat. While some fat injected may absorb, at least 70% should “take” and will become a permanent addition to the buttock. By 3 months results will be apparent.
The most significant benefit of the fat transfer process is that it tones and slims the donor area while augmenting the buttocks, improving at least two body regions simultaneously. A true “win-win!”
The Majority of Brazilian Butt Lifts are performed safely
When performed correctly by a specifically trained and highly-qualified, board certified plastic surgeon, the Brazilian butt lift is a safe and effective procedure. In addition to routine surgical safety precautions and hygiene practices, a safe Brazilian butt lift considers the following:
How much fat can safely be removed Where and how deep the fat is injected The amount of fat that can safely be injected
A surgeon with a laser focus on patient safety and an intimate understanding of the functional body systems and anatomy can ensure a safe BBL with impressive results.
The risks associated with BBL
The most significant risk associated with BBL is when the transferred fat is injected too deeply. Transferred fat should only be injected into the layer of existing fat just under the skin because deep to that, the buttock contains underlying musculature and structures that the procedure can compromise with improper surgical technique. Injecting fat too deeply into muscle can result in fat entering the body’s blood stream, leading to life-threatening fat embolization/clog in the heart and lungs. Further, placing too much fat for an exaggerated result will result in absorption, poor healing, fat hardening and potentially devastating skin damage.
According to the Florida Department of Health, there have been 21 deaths from BBL procedures in Florida since 2015. And according to a study published in the
Aesthetic Surgery Journal, those numbers could be higher than official counts suggest. The high number of deaths has pushed the Florida medical board to implement safety rulings associated with the procedure.
However, it is imperative to highlight that the major contributing factor, according to the Florida Board of Medicine, is the state’s high-volume surgery centers that have become known as “butt-lift mills.” These centers employ many non-doctor technicians supervised by a surgeon to perform BBL procedures from early morning to late night, which allows them to provide lower prices by squeezing in as many clients as possible, compromising quality and safety in the name of quantity and fast results.
Florida’s new safety rules for plastic surgeons
So-called “butt-lift mills” are operated by credentialed surgeons who delegate vital parts of the surgery to other physicians or medical assistants who may not be credentialed, allowing the mills to perform excessive surgeries daily. Because a BBL can take up to three hours, three to five procedures would constitute a full day’s work for an experienced and qualified plastic surgeon. A single surgeon might have multiple surgeries simultaneously at these high-volume surgical centers.
According to an Inspector’s testimony during a Board meeting for the Florida Department of Health, registered physician’s offices serve as mega-centers instead of individual doctor’s offices. Sometimes hosting sixteen operating rooms in a single office, the waiting rooms are filled with patients who have arrived straight from the airport to undergo surgery. The issue is that this is no longer an office operating suite but rather a major hospital that is not being regulated.
By issuing new mandates for surgeons, the Florida Board of Medicine intends to make the Brazilian butt lift procedure less risky in the following ways. The Board will:
Cap the number of butt-lifts each surgeon can perform per day Forbid surgeons from delegating critical parts of the procedure to underqualified physicians or medical assistants, such as fat injection Require the use of ultrasound imaging to reduce the risk of fat being injected into the muscle How you can get a safe Brazilian butt lift
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), representing 93% of all board-certified plastic surgeons in the US, supports Florida’s new rules and issued similar guidance to all its members. Getting a safe Brazilian butt lift requires choosing a board-certified cosmetic surgeon who performs the surgery from a location with stringent rules and vetting processes. These surgeons will be up-to-date on the latest safety precautions and ASPS recommendations and can claim rigorous training and experience.
Some other ways to help ensure you get a safe Brazilian butt lift include:
Check your cosmetic surgeon’s credentials to ensure you are working with someone who has had proper procedure training and received board certification from the
American Board of Plastic Surgery. Examine experience
Ask your surgeon about their experience with the procedure. Good questions include how many Brazilian butt lifts they have performed over the years and whether they have acquired additional training.
Secure an accredited surgical facility
Ensure your procedure is performed in an
accredited surgical facility or hospital, such as those certified by the AAAASF, AAAHC, The Joint Commission or Medicare. Request results
Review before and after pictures of previous patients & read surgeon reviews. You can also ask to see additional non-published photos of their patients during your consultation. Read their positive and negative online reviews to learn about their practice from those who have experienced it first-hand.
Go into your surgery with a foundation of basic information about the surgical process, associated risks, and what to expect from recovery. These can be obtained from high authority websites dedicated to aesthetic surgery, including the American Society of Plastic Surgeons or The Aesthetic Society.
Dr. Shermak and her team of qualified, experienced medical professionals are here to help. During a private and comprehensive consultation, Dr. Shermak can answer any questions in greater detail and discuss the most recent safety updates.