BBL surgery and the potential risks

The Brazilian Butt Lift, otherwise known as a BBL, has been in the news lately for all the wrong reasons. In August 2018 it was announced 29-year-old British woman Leah Cambridge died after having a BBL in Turkey. In October 2018, it was announced a yet to be named woman, also from Britain, had also died when she travelled abroad to have a BBL. These two deaths resulted in the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) announcing that British surgeons should cease performing BBLs.

So what exactly is a BBL and what are the potential risks?

What is a BBL?

A Brazilian Butt Lift is a cosmetic procedure which is one of the most popularly performed worldwide.

The procedure involves a fat transfer to the buttocks to create a buttock that is larger and curvier.

The first step of the procedure is to undertake liposuction on a donor area of the body. This can include areas such as the thighs, hips, flanks or abdomen. The fat is then treated, before being injected back into the buttock to increase the size.

What are the risks?

The procedure sounds straightforward, but what exactly are the risks?

Rare risks of a BBL include:

  • Bruising
  • Stretch marks
  • Bleeding (hematoma)
  • Infection
  • Poor wound healing
  • Blood clots
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Numbness or change of sensation in the skin
  • Asymmetry
  • Scarring
  • Looseness of skin
  • Complications with anaesthetic
  • Cardiac or pulmonary complications

One of the major complications with a BBL is a fat embolism. This occurs when a fat clot enters the bloodstream and then travels to the arteries in the heart and lungs. This can occur during the second stage of the Brazilian Butt Lift if fat is injected into the muscle, or a vein is damaged. This can result in a fatality.

How can surgeons prevent complications from occurring?

Fortunately, there are methods that surgeons can follow when performing a BBL to ensure that complications do not occur, and a fat embolism does not happen. These include:

  • Do not inject fat into the deep muscle
  • Stay away from gluteal veins and the sciatic nerve
  • Use the correct size cannula
  • Make sure to only inject when the cannula is in motion
  • Concentrate on the position of the cannula to ensure it does not go deeper

Surgeons must also make sure the patients are aware of the risk of fat embolisms, and what their alternative surgical options are, prior to undergoing the BBL.

What can patients do?

Do you want to undergo a BBL, but you’re worried about the safety of the procedure? Fortunately, there are steps you can follow beforehand to ensure nothing goes wrong during your procedure.

  • Research the procedure: there is plenty of information about BBL’s online. Make sure to do your own research before going to any clinic. That way you will already be informed and will be able to know whether the information you have matches up with what your surgeon is telling you.
  • Research the surgeon: is the surgeon certified? What are their qualifications? How much experience do they have? What reviews do they have online? If you can’t find any evidence of your surgeon being certified, or they have lots of bad reviews, you may wish to go elsewhere. Within the UK, you can check if your surgeon is registered through the General Medical Council‘s website.
  • Have a consultation: not all clinics will offer a consultation. Some may offer consultations, but these will be with a representative of the company, rather than the surgeon themselves. Many patients who are unhappy with their procedure report that they never got to meet the surgeon prior to the day of their procedure. Make sure you meet the surgeon in advance and see whether or not you trust them. Make sure the surgeon knows about your medical history and has outlined all the risks of the procedure. Remember that every cosmetic surgery has risks, and the surgeon should make you aware of this.
  • Aftercare: does the cost of your procedure include aftercare? If something goes wrong, you want to know whether or not you will be able to see the same surgeon again, and whether you will have to pay anything extra.

Centre for Surgery currently offers gluteal sculpting with superficial fat transfer, which involves injecting fat above the muscle, which lowers the chance of complications occurring. If you would like to discuss a fat transfer or wish to discuss the risks of a BBL, contact us today.  

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