Inspired by “bootylicious” celebrities and social media stars such as the Kardashians, Jennifer Lopez and Beyonce, the risky operation has raised alarms after a number of complications and number of deaths.
BBL is the colloquial term for buttock fat grafting, an elective cosmetic procedure which can cost up to $14,000 and involves removing fat from one part of the body via liposuction and transplanting it via injection into the butt for a fuller, perkier effect.
According to the Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS), the mortality rate for BBLs is estimated to be one in every 3000 operations — meaning it has a higher rate of death than any other cosmetic procedure.
THE BOOTYLICIOUS EFFECT
The BBL’s popularity has increased over the last few years, with the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery tracking a 26 percent jump from 2016 to 2017, making it the surgical procedure that saw the second most significant increase performed year over year.
However, its complications have thrust it into the medical spotlight and plastic surgeons across the world have expressed deep concerns over its increasing popularity.
ASAPS has now backed a new “patient safety task force” to investigate the risks and improve patient safety of the increasingly popular procedure in Australia.
“In short, the butt is becoming the new breast,” Dr Tim Papadopoulos, specialist plastic surgeon and past president of ASAPS said.
‘Bootylicious’ singer Beyonce is an inspiration for many young women. Picture: Mega Agency Source: Mega
Five of the world’s leading plastic and cosmetic surgery-related organisations have banded together to form an “Inter-Society Buttock Fat Grafting Task Force” to research complications and deaths associated with BBL.
“Action must be taken now in order to prevent further tragedies from occurring,” Dr Papadopoulos said.
“The task force is concerned with the high mortality rate of this operation and is aggressively investigating ways to make this procedure safer.
“This new warning emphasises the continued risk that is being encountered with this procedure. Patient safety is the highest priority for plastic surgeons and this multi-society task force is an important and unprecedented collaboration.”
He said the procedure had resulted in an “alarming rate of mortality”.
“This rate of death is far greater than any other cosmetic surgery,” he said. “Having said that, there has been no reported case of a death from BBL in Australasia.”
He this may be due to the cultural and ethnic differences and perceptions of beauty regarding bums.
“Although social media has had a huge influence in promoting BBL, especially with celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez, the volumes of buttock fat transfer overseas don’t necessarily translate to what’s going on here in Australia,” Dr Papadopoulos said.
The surgery can cost up to $14,000. Picture: Supplied/ Cosmos Clinic website Source: Supplied
“In the USA, the large African-American and Hispanic populations have generally dictated their beauty norms which promote larger backsides and smaller breasts.
“This is not the case in Australia where women generally prefer larger breasts and smaller backsides.”
WHAT THE TASK FORCE WILL DO
The task force will examine the causes behind complications and deaths to try to prevent them from occurring through a variety of doctor and patient safety education measures, including unprecedented research.
Once those results are finalised, a comprehensive set of guidelines for the procedure will be submitted for publication in major clinical journals.
“Interestingly, while this procedure has been done for decades, it wasn’t recognised as risky until recently,” Dr Papadopoulos said.
The alarm bells started to ring for some surgeons after a 2015 study which looked at 19 BBL-related deaths in Colombia and Mexico over a 15-year period.
A 2017 report also noted at least 25 fatalities in the United States in the preceding five years.
WHY IS THE BBL SO DANGEROUS?
Dr Papadopoulos says every BBL-related death is caused by bits of fat (or “emboli-globules”) which enter the blood stream and clog up the patient’s heart.
“The cause of death is emboli-globules of fat that inadvertently enter the gluteal veins and swiftly make their way up to the heart and lungs, causing patients to arrest and die usually in the operating room during the procedure or in the recovery room shortly after,” Dr Papadopoulos said.
“These emboli are unique to the buttock area, as fat injections in the breast, face and thighs don’t produce this same phenomenon.
“The gluteal veins’ distinctive anatomy makes them especially vulnerable because they’re very big and thin, and only one tributary away from the inferior vena cava, which is the major vein in the body running from the pelvis to the heart.
“If a surgeon nicks one of these gluteal veins or they tear because of traction from pooling of fat beneath the muscle, it’ll act like a siphon, sucking in fat around it, and ultimately sending fat up into the heart.”
WHAT TO DO IF YOU WANT A BBL
Dr Papadopoulos said any patients interested in the procedure should research and trust only FRACS-qualified Specialist Plastic Surgeons at accredited and licensed facilities or hospitals. “You should ask to see before-and-after photos and ask for patient references,” he said.
“You, too, should stay informed on the issue, and when consulting with doctors, don’t hesitate to question their approach.”
To find a suitable surgeon search through the Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons Member Database.
– Ben Graham
Article Source: news.com.au