A plastic surgery organisation in the UK has warned its members to stop performing potentially deadly Brazilian butt lifts - at least until there's more research done on the procedure.
On Thursday, the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) announced it was officially dissuading all members from offering the surgery while more data is collected, CNN reported.
The Brazilian butt lift (BBL) is a procedure in which fat is taken from one part of the body and injected into the buttocks. But that injected fat may cause serious or even fatal complications.
In a statement, the BAAPS said BBLs have the highest death rate of all cosmetic procedures - it's estimated to be as high as 1 in every 3,000 operations. And yet, the surgery is growing more and more popular. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) reports that the number of BBL procedures has more than doubled in the past five years.
In August, the ASPS issued its own "urgent warning" about BBL risks, and even announced the formation of an international task force dedicated to making safety guidelines for the surgery.
But what makes BBLs dangerous enough to prompt such dire warnings? Here's a closer look at why experts consider them so risky.
So far, most deaths linked to BBLs appear to be caused by fat that's mistakenly injected into the veins, outgoing BAAPS president Dr. Simon Withey said in the statement. This fat may travel to the heart, lungs, or brain, blocking blood flow to those organs. This is called a fat embolism, and unsurprisingly, it can be fatal.
It can happen in other cosmetic procedures, but it's "most common during Brazilian butt lifts, especially when not performed by an experienced surgeon and when not following proper protocol," plastic surgeon Dr David Shafer previously told INSIDER.
Other possible BBL complications include bacterial infections, abscesses, scarring, and tissue death, the BAAPS statement said.
In its August statement, the ASPS said high demand has caused more non-plastic surgeons and or non-board-certified plastic surgeons to perform BBLs, likely causing an increase in complications. (Generally speaking, board-certified doctors are those who have undergone extra education, training, and testing in their medical specialty.)
Many patients also appear to be seeking out lower-cost BBLs abroad, according to the BAAPS. This is part of a larger trend called cosmetic surgery tourism, and it may be risky for a number of reasons. It can be difficult to vet a surgeon's credentials when they work for a private company abroad, for one, and even if you do find an excellent surgeon, the combination of surgery and travel alone can significantly increase the risk of complications, according to the ASPS.
In short, travelling for cheaper procedures may cause more health problems.
Since 2013, one UK hospital reported a six-fold increase in patients seeking care due to botched surgeries done overseas, according to a study presented last week at the BAAPS international conference. Most cases with "major" complications were due buttock enhancement.
And in a recent BAAPS survey of plastic surgeons, four out of five respondents said they'd seen an increase in patients needing revisions of surgeries done abroad.
Wherever you get plastic surgery, though - and whichever you procedure you undergo - experts say it's critical to do your homework and select a truly qualified surgeon.
"It can't be emphasized enough that you have your surgery done by a board certified plastic surgeon, in an accredited facility, and using proper monitoring," Shafer previously told INSIDER.
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