Last month, the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) decided to review the safety of buttock fat grafting, known in popular culture as the Brazilian Butt Lift. At the BAAPS Annual Scientific Meeting in London, members of BAAPS of which Mr Alex Karidis is one debated the topic and then voted for a formal review that would include a survey of members and an examination of peer-reviewed published evidence.
Currently, BAAPS recommends that its members do not perform fat grafting to the buttocks until more data is collected. Typically, the procedure entails taking fat from one part of the body and injecting it into the buttock area to enhance the shape and size of the buttocks.
Brazilian butt lift risks
Fat grafting is not a new procedure and it is has been performed safely for many years – fat transfer to the breasts for a natural breast augmentation is becoming increasingly popular as women look for alternatives to breast implants. However, the unique anatomy of the buttocks, with its underlying musculature and vascular structures, means that injecting fat too deeply can lead to life-threatening complications such as fat embolization in the heart or lungs.
Mr Alex Karidis, Consultant Plastic Surgeon and medical director of the Karidis Clinic, attended the BAAPS meeting and took part in the debate and vote. “I think BAAPS’ decision to review BBL surgery was the sensible outcome. I think it is very important to be circumspect with these things as, at the bottom line, these are cosmetic, elective procedures.
“They can enhance a patient’s psyche and increase self-confidence, but as surgeons, we need to advocate and recommend treatments that are, above all, safe for the patient.
“There are no guarantees with surgery and no procedure is free from risk, but we have to lessen the chance of any complications occurring and – when it comes to bum lift surgery – those Brazilian butt lift risks have included death. In light of these risks, it is right that we review these procedures for safety.”
So, the next step is for BAAPS and other plastic surgery organisations around the world to review this procedure and decide whether it’s safe for their members to offer. Mr Karidis did sound a note of caution as to whether it will ever be possible for them to come to this decision though. “This is not a procedure that you can standardise. It’s not like a breast augmentation with implants that has been performed for many years and the techniques are tried and tested. You make certain incisions and you place the implant in a pocket, either above or below the muscle.
“With fat transfer, there are so many more variables; how you harvest the fat, how you process the fat; how you inject the fat, where you inject, the quantities you inject, even the rate that you inject the fat into the new area.
“There is a lot of scope for producing different results and also a lot of scope for something to go wrong.
“Unlike a breast augmentation, there are also a lot fewer people undergoing this procedure so it will be more challenging – and may take longer – to collect data on whether it’s safe.”