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Dr. Grant Stevens Addresses Brazilian Butt Lift Complications

Inter-Society Gluteal Fat Grafting Task Force Conducting Extensive Research to Prevent Tragic Outcomes

Grant Stevens, MD, FACS, a board certified plastic surgeon, founder of Marina Plastic Surgery in Marina del Rey, CA, and president of The Aesthetic Society, confirmed that five of the world’s preeminent plastic and cosmetic surgery-related organizations have banded together to research complications and deaths associated with the surgical procedure called the Brazilian Buttock Lift (BBL).

According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS/The Aesthetic Society), recent deaths and serious complications associated with the popular Brazilian Buttock Lift procedure have prompted five of the world’s top plastic and cosmetic surgery related organizations to come together to form an Inter-Society Gluteal Fat Grafting Task Force. The Task Force will examine the causes behind complications and deaths to try to prevent them from occurring through a variety of physician and patient safety education measures, including unprecedented research.

“ASAPS, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, the International Society of Plastic and Regenerative Surgeons and the International Federation for Adipose Therapeutics and Science have all recognized that the death rate for BBL (approximately 1/3,000) is the highest for any aesthetic procedure and accordingly, action must be taken now in order to prevent further tragedies from occurring,” said Stevens. “We believe that it is essential for our organizations to come together to address the complication and death rate associated with an increasingly popular aesthetic procedure in order to change the course of these adverse events as much as is possible for patient safety.”

To date, the societies have reviewed autopsy reports that have made it evident that all deceased BBL patients have had specific findings in common, including:

  • Fat in the gluteal muscles
  • Fat beneath the muscles
  • Damage to the superior or inferior gluteal vein
  • Massive fat emboli in the heart and/or lungs

Further, the Task Force has identified factors that added additional risk to the procedure as well as those that proved to be protective and/or preventative. These findings have led to the adoption of the following recommendations:

  • Avoid injecting fat into the deep muscle. No deaths have occurred with fat found only in the subcutaneous plane, (under skin but over muscle)
  • Avoid gluteal veins and the sciatic nerve. Fat should only be grafted into the superficial planes with the subcutaneous space considered safest.
  • Use a >4.1 mm single hole injection cannula and instrumentation that offers control, avoiding bendable cannulas and mobile luer connections. Vibrating cannulas may provide additional tactile feedback.
  • Avoid downward angulation of the cannula.
  • Position patient and place incisions to create a path that will avoid deep muscle injections.
  • Maintain constant three-dimensional awareness of the cannula tip.
  • Only inject when the cannula is in motion to avoid high pressure bolus injections.
  • Consider pulmonary fat embolism in unstable intra- and post-operative patients.
  • Review gluteal vascular anatomy and draw landmarks to identify and avoid injection into the pedicle.
  • Include risk of fat embolism and surgical alternatives in the informed consent process.

“These guidelines should be adhered to by anyone performing the BBL in order to curtail complications as much as is possible,” Dr. Stevens said.

Additional research is being conducted in the form of more anatomic studies via cadaver labs, injectable dye studies with ultrasound and fiber optic equipment, cannula testing, injection depth testing and specific site injection testing. Once those results are finalized, a comprehensive set of guidelines for the procedure will be submitted for publication in major clinical journals.

Dr. Stevens suggests that any patients interested in the procedure should research board-certified plastic surgeons in their area that specialize in the Brazilian Butt Lift procedure, should ask to see before-and-after photos and ask for patient references.

For more information, visit Marina Plastic Surgery; like Marina Plastic Surgery on Facebook; follow on Twitter @DrGrantStevens; and sign up for his blog BeautyByStevens.

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