Warnings over risks stemming from Brazilian Butt Lift

PHOENIX (KSAZ) -- There's a new warning out about a very popular cosmetic surgery called the Brazilian Butt Lift.

According to a new study, as the popularity grows for the procedure, so does the death toll.

"It's life changing. It was worth it for me," said Yury Lopez, who underwent the procedure.

"About seven years ago, it really started to increase in number of people wanting the fat, when we take it out, to actually utilize it, recycle it, if you will, and put it back in to the body to give them enhancement in an area where they feel like they're lacking," said Infini Cosmetic Associates cosmetic surgeon Dr. William Hall.

The technical term for Brazilian Butt Lift is "Gluteal Fat Grafting".

"We take fat out of anywhere on the body, and we put fat back in to build the buttocks, or to build breast up with your own natural tissue," said Dr. Hall.

Although the procedure has been done for decades, it wasn't ruled risky until recently. A task force of professionals in the plastic surgery field published a study, estimating the mortality rate to be 1 in 3,000, which makes it the highest of all cosmetic surgeries.

"What we found is that fat grafted into the buttock muscle is the reason why deaths are occurring," said Dr. Sean Lille, a board-certified plastic surgeon.

According to Dr. Lille, the cause of death is Fat Embolism, due to injecting fat into the muscle.

"What happens is when you inject the fat, due to the instrument going back and forth during the injection process that injures some of those veins, and during the injection process," said Dr. Lille. "Due to the injury, that fat can be injected into the vein itself, and that gets injected into the heart and lung system, and that's when the problem occurs."

Due to these new alarming numbers, a new standard of care has been given to doctors performing the surgery.

"What's come out is the fact that the only part where you can inject the fat is in the subcutaneous space, and that is the area above the muscle," said Dr. Lille.

Dr. Hall said the procedure is typically safe, if done right. Dr. Hall has been performing the surgery for about 18 years, and has never had an issue.

"I do anywhere from five to 10 liposuctions a week, and out of those, I would say an average of two to five Brazilian Butt Lifts a week," said Dr. Hall.

Lopez, like most women after having children, wanted to feel better about herself, so she opted for the surgery.

"My abdomen, my waist, hips was the biggest thing," said Lopez. Even doing diets and going to the gym it wasn't just going down."

For now, the best rule of thumb is to trust only a board-certified plastic or cosmetic surgeon. With any surgery, however, comes risks, and Doctors Hill and Lille said anyone looking to get any type of surgery should research it, as well as a potential doctor, thoroughly.