A medical malpractice lawsuit has been filed after a fatal Brazilian Butt Lift. The latest in a string of cases highlighting the dangers and risks of cosmetic surgery, the state of Florida is taking a keen interest in the complication that resulted in death in this case – a fat embolism. Patient advocates and families affected by botched or fatal cosmetic procedures are warning patients to be cautious when deciding to undergo any surgical procedure.
The attorneys here at Brown & Brothers also caution patients to carefully consider possible side effects and risks of surgery. Our attorneys also want readers to take time to explore their legal rights before having any surgical procedure. Read on to learn more about this Brazilian Butt Lift lawsuit, the dangers of fat embolisms, and what you can do to protect your health and legal rights.
Brazilian Butt Lift Lawsuit Information
In May 2016, a West Virginia woman traveled to Miami to have the common Brazilian Butt Lift procedure. She was a new mother of just two months, and wanted the procedure to help her feel better about her appearance. After researching doctors, she decided on Encore Plastic Surgery. This procedure was the first, and unfortunately the last, surgical procedure the woman had ever undergone.
As the surgeon transplanted fat, a vein was struck, causing the piece of fat to enter the bloodstream and travel to the lungs. Called a fat embolism, the complication caused the patient to stop breathing. Her mother has since become an advocate for women considering the procedure.
Investigations Find Numerous Deaths Related to Fat Embolisms
Following this patient’s death, a local news station conducted an investigation, which revealed that at least eight other women, all mothers, have died from fat embolisms in the past five years. Each of the women were treated by a different surgeon, and at different clinics. These deaths are among a string of cases in South Florida where women have experienced horrifying complications and injuries after undergoing cosmetic surgery.
The Florida Department of Health has filed lawsuits against the doctor discussed in the above case, as well as one other. The medical malpractice complaint filed against the doctor in this case alleges that the doctor failed to do a proper physical examination prior to surgery, that he did not carefully and slowly inject the fat, which led to his striking a vein, and that he did not abide by the state-recommended three months post-delivery before operating. Encore Plastic Surgery clinic has been shutdown, but the doctor continues to practice elsewhere.
In the other lawsuit, the Florida Department of Health alleges that another Florida surgeon punctured internal organs in two of his patients who underwent Brazilian Butt Lift procedures. Another patient reportedly died after the procedure. His license has been revoked, but he is appealing to the 1st District Court of Appeals.
What is a Fat Embolism and How Dangerous is it?
We briefly mentioned that a fat embolism occurs when a piece of fat breaks off and enters the bloodstream. But how exactly does that happen? How common is this injury? How dangerous is it?
How Exactly Does a Fat Embolism Happen?
A pulmonary fat embolism (PFE) most commonly occurs in two situations. The first is trauma to some part of the body, such as a broken bone, that compromises a vein and allows fat particles to enter. The second is a surgical mistake or error. In the case of the Brazilian Butt Lift, or BBL as it is commonly known, a cannula is used to inject and distribute fat to other parts of the buttocks, which results in projection and a fuller appearance.
There are two methods of procedure for a BBL, one that includes inserting fat into existing fat in the buttocks. The other includes inserting fat into the gluteus muscle. The second option is much more dangerous and at-risk for a PFE because there are extensive blood vessels throughout the muscle. Infecting into the muscle is a common practice, but increases the risk of the cannula hitting a vein and fat particles being introduced to the bloodstream. The fat particles can then travel through the vein, cause blockages, and can enter the lungs stopping breathing.
How Common and Dangerous are PFE Injuries?
Over the past few years, there has been increasing evidence that the Brazilian Butt Lift procedure is dangerous. While not all complications, including PFEs are fatal, they can cause significant complications and require additional procedures to treat.
Among all cosmetic procedures, the BBL has the highest rate of patient deaths. The primary cause of death in these cases are pulmonary fat embolisms (PFE). In 2016, a survey was sent to 4,853 plastic surgeons, with the data collected used to analyze the probability and incidence rates of PFEs.
The information gathered from the surveys suggested that the risk of death due to a PFE was around one in 3,448. While that may seem like decent odds, consider that the average risk of death from a cosmetic procedure in an accredited facility is one in 55,000. That makes the risk of death during a BBL procedure three times higher than any other form of cosmetic surgery, and 16 times higher than any procedure in general.
Understanding Your Legal Rights
No matter what sort of surgical procedure you are planning to undergo, there are risks. Those risks should not include the negligence or recklessness of your healthcare providers. If you have been injured during a cosmetic surgery procedure, contact Brown & Brothers to speak with one of our medical malpractice attorneys about your case.
At Brown & Brothers, we are dedicated to fighting for the rights of patients who have been injured due to negligent healthcare providers. We are here to answer your questions and guide you and your family through every step of the legal process. To schedule a no obligation consultation, fill out our online form.