Helping victims seek justice and compensation after a Brazilian butt lift injury or death in Florida
Over the last 10 years, the Brazilian butt lift (BBL) has been the fastest-growing cosmetic procedure in the U.S., with revenue from the procedure totaling more than $245 million in 2021 alone. According to a report from The Aesthetic Society, 61,387 Brazilian butt lift surgeries took place in 2021, a 37% increase from the previous year.
However, by 2017, it was also widely recognized that the surgery carried the highest risk of death from a pulmonary fat embolism (PFE) than any other cosmetic procedure. South Florida holds the unfortunate distinction of having the highest number of BBL-related deaths in the United States.
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury or death after a Brazilian butt lift procedure in Florida, please know that you’re not alone. While no amount of money can ever truly compensate you for your struggles or loss, a personal injury lawsuit can help bring the justice that you and your family deserve.
What is a Brazilian butt lift procedure?
A Brazilian butt lift is a type of cosmetic surgery designed to enhance the size and shape of the buttocks. During the procedure, liposuction is used to remove fat from other parts of the body, such as the abdomen, thighs or back. The extracted fat is then purified and injected into the buttocks to achieve a fuller, more lifted appearance.
The surgery usually doesn’t involve the use of implants; instead, it utilizes the patient’s own fat to augment the buttocks. This approach is believed to offer a more natural look and feel compared to silicone implants. It’s typically performed under general anesthesia and may require an overnight stay at the hospital or surgery center, depending on the specifics of the case.
Why is a Brazilian butt lift so dangerous?
The Brazilian butt lift has gained attention in recent years for its high risk of complications compared to other cosmetic surgeries. The most severe risk is that of a pulmonary fat embolism (PFE), where injected fat enters the bloodstream and blocks blood flow to the lungs, which can be fatal.
Here are some reasons why the procedure can be so dangerous:
- Technical complexity. The surgery involves precise techniques for liposuction and fat injection. Inaccurate placement of the cannula (the tube used for injecting fat) can lead to fat entering the bloodstream.
- Vascular anatomy. The gluteal region has a dense network of blood vessels, making it easy for injected fat to enter the circulatory system if not done correctly.
- Inexperienced support staff. In some cases, key parts of the procedure are delegated to less trained medical professionals, like physician assistants or nurse practitioners, who might not have specialized training in this complex procedure.
- Lack of surgeon expertise. Not all practitioners performing BBLs are board-certified plastic surgeons, increasing the risk of complications. Some are incentivized by high patient volumes and quick turnarounds, sacrificing quality and safety.
- Inadequate preoperative and postoperative care. Some facilities may skimp on patient evaluation before surgery or provide inadequate aftercare, increasing the risk of complications such as infection or blood loss.
- Lack of standard guidelines. There is a lack of universally accepted best practices for the procedure, leading to variations in how surgeons perform it.
- Corporate-owned surgery centers. These often prioritize profits over patient safety. They may contract with surgeons motivated by the number of procedures rather than patient well-being.
- Misinformed consumers. Many people don’t fully understand the risks before undergoing the procedure. They may be swayed by social media or low prices, rather than focusing on the surgeon’s expertise or the facility’s safety records.
Due to these factors, it’s crucial for anyone considering a BBL to do their research, consult board-certified plastic surgeons, and fully understand the risks involved.
Why are so many people dying from Brazilian butt lifts in Florida?
According to a study published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal, 25 people died between 2010 and 2022 from Brazilian butt lift procedures in South Florida due to pulmonary fat emboli. Of those people, more than 90% had their surgeries at high-volume, discount clinics, where some doctors were known to have performed as many as 12 procedures a day.
In response to this high death rate, the Florida Board of Medicine issued an emergency order in June 2022 that limited the number of BBL surgeries a doctor could perform each day to 3.
Additionally, the doctor carrying out the procedure is now required to use ultrasound guidance for accurate placement and maneuvering when injecting fat. This ensures that the fat is deposited above the layer of connective tissue that covers the gluteal muscle and reduces the chance of an embolism.
Florida woman dies during Brazilian butt lift procedure
A 33-year-old woman died after receiving a Brazilian butt lift from Dr. John Argyle Gilmore Sampson at Seduction Cosmetic Center in Coral Gables, Florida. She was his seventh patient that day, as reported by the Florida Department of Health. The uptick in such procedures and the high patient volume per day have been linked to increased fatalities, particularly in Miami.
Dr. Sampson is accused of medical malpractice for puncturing the patient’s internal organs and improperly injecting fat, which can cause fatal pulmonary embolisms. An emergency order now prohibits him from performing liposuction, fat transfers, or Brazilian butt lifts until his case is resolved.
Other complications associated with Brazilian butt lift procedures
While pulmonary fat embolism is one of the most severe complications associated with Brazilian butt lifts, there are other risks and potential complications that patients should also be aware of, including:
- Infection. As with any surgery, there’s a risk of infection. Poorly sterilized equipment or inadequate postoperative care can lead to bacterial infections that may require additional treatments or hospitalization.
- Hematoma. This is a collection of blood outside the blood vessels, often requiring surgical drainage. It can cause pain, swelling and further complications if not treated.
- Seroma. This is a buildup of clear bodily fluids in the area where tissue has been removed. Seromas may require drainage and can become infected if not treated.
- Scarring. Though surgeons try to minimize scarring, any surgical procedure can potentially leave unwanted scars. How well the scars fade depends on various factors, including how well the patient heals.
- Anesthesia complications. As the procedure is often performed under general anesthesia, there’s a risk of adverse reactions to the anesthesia itself, which can range from mild complications to death.
- Nerve damage. The procedure can sometimes lead to nerve damage in the area where the surgery is performed, causing numbness or tingling.
- Asymmetry. There’s always the risk that the procedure may result in uneven or asymmetrical results, requiring additional corrective surgeries.
- Fat necrosis. This is the death of fat tissue, which can become hardened or produce an oily discharge, often requiring surgical removal.
While some of these complications can’t always be anticipated or prevented, others that are the result of a health care professional’s negligence may be grounds for a personal injury lawsuit.
How do you prove negligence in a Brazilian butt lift lawsuit?
Proving negligence in a Brazilian butt lift injury case involves showing that the health care provider failed to meet the accepted standard of care and that this failure directly led to your injuries. To do this, you’ll generally need to establish the following:
- Duty of care. The first step is to demonstrate that the health care provider owed you a duty to exercise reasonable care, skill and judgment while performing the medical services. This is generally straightforward and is usually established through the existence of a patient-doctor relationship.
- Breach of duty. You must prove that the health care provider breached this duty by failing to adhere to an accepted standard of care. Expert testimony from another surgeon who can attest to the breach of the standard is commonly used for this purpose.
- Causation. The next step is to establish a direct connection between the breach of duty and your injuries. You’ll have to show that your injuries or damages were a direct result of the health care provider’s negligence.
- Damages. Lastly, you must demonstrate that you incurred measurable damages due to the negligence. These damages can include medical costs, lost income, and pain and suffering.
You’ll typically need to provide concrete evidence such as medical records, expert testimony, and possibly witness accounts to establish that the medical professional’s actions or lack thereof were negligent and resulted in harm. An experienced personal injury attorney can guide you through the process and connect you with experts in the field who can help substantiate your claim.
How long do I have to file a lawsuit for a Brazilian butt lift in Florida?
In Florida, the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death or medical malpractice lawsuit is generally 2 years from the date the incident occurred or from the date the injury was discovered or should have been discovered with reasonable diligence.
However, there are some exceptions to these general rules, especially in cases involving minors or fraudulent concealment of malpractice. If you’re unsure if you missed the deadline, contact an experienced Florida personal injury attorney who can explain the time limits for filing a claim in your specific situation.
Is there a damage cap on medical malpractice cases in Florida?
As of 2017, there is no limit to the amount of damages you can receive through a medical malpractice lawsuit in Florida. The previous damage caps that existed before 2017 were deemed unconstitutional for violating the Equal Protection Clause of the Florida State Constitution.
Get help from an experienced Tampa personal injury attorney
If you or a family member has experienced an injury or loss of life due to a Brazilian butt lift procedure in the Tampa area, it’s crucial to act now. The emotional and physical toll of a surgical mishap can be devastating, and while no sum of money can make that pain go away, filing a lawsuit can be a crucial step in getting justice and closure.
At Lorenzo & Lorenzo, we specialize in medical malpractice and wrongful death cases. Our experienced attorneys can guide you through this difficult time, offering expert advice and fighting for the compensation you deserve. Reach out to us today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your options.
Adam Walser. (2023, June 28). BBL deaths rose in Florida, even after rule changes. ABC Action News Tampa Bay (WFTS). https://www.abcactionnews.com/news/local-news/i-team-investigates/brazilian-butt-lift-deaths-rose-in-florida-even-after-rule-changes
Aesthetic Plastic Surgery National Databank. (n.d.). https://cdn.theaestheticsociety.org/media/statistics/2021-TheAestheticSocietyStatistics.pdf
Emergency Office Surgery Rule: Effective Imminently. (n.d.). www.flmedical.org. https://www.flmedical.org/florida/Florida_Public/News/2022/Emergency_Office_Surgery_Rule_Effective_Imminently.aspx
Masihy • •, M. (n.d.). Brazilian Butt Lift Deaths on the Rise, Despite Efforts. NBC 6 South Florida. https://www.nbcmiami.com/investigations/brazilian-butt-lift-deaths-on-the-rise-despite-efforts/2733843/
Pazmiño, P., & Garcia, O. (2022). Brazilian Butt Lift–Associated Mortality: The South Florida Experience. Aesthetic Surgery Journal, 43(2). https://doi.org/10.1093/asj/sjac224