The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (“BAAPS”) warned on October 4, 2018 that Brazilian Buttock Lift (“BBL”) procedures have the highest death rate of all cosmetic surgery procedures (estimated to be as high as 1 in 3,000 operations) in the United Kingdom, due to the risk of injecting fat into large veins that can travel to the heart or brain and cause severe illness and death.
BBL procedures involve taking fat from another part of the body and then injecting the fat into the buttocks. BAAPS recommends that its members refrain from performing BBLs, at least until more data is available. One study from a single UK NHS hospital found a six-fold rise in cases needing urgent follow-up care from procedures done abroad, since 2013. All but one of the complications that were deemed “major” were for buttock enhancement, also known as gluteal augmentation. These patients required an average hospital stay of 20 days.
BAAPS reported that complications from BBL ranged from severe bacterial infections, including MRSA and Pseudomonas, tissue dying (necrosis), scarring, wound ruptures (dehiscence), and abscesses. One patient reportedly had a flesh-eating infection (necrotising fasciitis), which cost nearly £47,000 to treat. The number one most cited reason for choosing to travel outside the UK for these procedures was cost (85% of respondents).
The most popular outside-the-UK destination was Turkey (25% of the cases), followed by Belgium (15%), and other locations such as France, Cyprus, Tunisia, and Colombia. Many of the patients would have been ruled out for the procedures in the UK, due to key medical history (e.g., smoking, weight (BMI), and possibly psychological issues).
The outgoing BAAPS president stated, “People are experiencing a rude awakening when they arrive back on British shores, many disappointed, and some desperately ill. Surgery is simply not something you can return at the January sales, and it should never be tied to seasonal discounts and incentives … A vulnerable group of patients are openly being targeted through social media and the Web to travel abroad for cheaper cosmetic surgery – and this trend is likely to rise. The outcome of having these operations away from home can be devastating. It’s not just medical history than [sic] needs evaluating, but also mental health screening, which we take very seriously at the BAAPS. Indeed, psychological wellbeing is a regular, yet critical part of our yearly Scientific Meetings.”
The BAAPS stated in a press release on October 4, 2018 that the results of BBL procedures are disturbing enough for BAAPS to dissuade “ALL members from performing this specific surgery, until more data can be collated.”
The BAAPS (www.baaps.org.uk), based at the Royal College of Surgeons, is a not-for-profit organisation, established for the advancement of education and practice of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery for public benefit.
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