Aug 17, 2023 - Health

As BBLs grow more popular, deaths rise in South Florida

A patient died after undergoing a Brazilian butt lift at New Life Plastic Surgery in Miami earlier this year. Photo: David J. Neal/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Brazilian butt lifts are ballooning in popularity across the country, but the death toll from botched procedures is growing as well.

Why it matters: BBLs, which involve injecting fat into the buttocks to achieve an hour-glass figure, is the most-searched cosmetic surgery procedure on Google in Florida. The procedure gets more than 20,000 searches a day, the Sun Sentinel reports.

How it works: One of the most deadly complications from a BBL is a pulmonary fat embolism, where the fat grafts a surgeon injects into the gluteal muscle enter the bloodstream.

By the numbers: There were 25 BBL-related fat embolism deaths in South Florida between 2010 and 2022, per the study.

  • About 92% of the procedures were performed at high-volume, budget clinics that are often seen in local strip malls.

State of play: The Florida Board of Medicine issued an emergency order in 2019 requiring surgeons to only inject fat grafts under the skin instead of in the muscle.

What they're saying: Central Florida resident Nikki Ruston, who was hospitalized after her BBL in Miami last July, told KFF Health News that she found her surgeon on Instagram by looking for cost-effective options.

  • "If I could go back in time, I wouldn't have had it done," she said.

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