BBL (Brazilian Butt Lift) Safety

BBL (Brazilian Butt Lift) Safety

The Brazilian Butt Lift (BBL) is a popular cosmetic surgery that involves the transfer of fat from various parts of the body to the buttocks to create a fuller, more rounded, and youthful look. This procedure has gained immense popularity worldwide due to its dual benefit of removing unwanted fat from areas like the abdomen, hips, and thighs while enhancing the buttocks. Despite its popularity, the BBL has been the subject of safety concerns and debates among medical professionals and potential patients. This discussion aims to provide an in-depth analysis of the safety of Brazilian Butt Lifts, considering surgical techniques, potential risks, and the steps that can be taken to mitigate these risks.

Surgical Techniques and Evolution

The Brazilian Butt Lift procedure has evolved significantly over the years, with advancements in surgical techniques aimed at enhancing safety and outcomes. The procedure involves liposuction to remove fat from designated areas of the body, followed by the purification and concentration of the harvested fat, and its careful re-injection into the buttocks. Over the years surgeons have developed more refined techniques for fat grafting, focusing on the safe placement of fat into tissue planes, where there is a minimal risk of complications.

Risks and Complications

Despite advancements in surgical techniques, the BBL carries inherent risks and potential complications similar to other cosmetic surgeries. These include infection, scarring, and issues related to anesthesia. However, specific to the BBL are risks such as fat embolism, where fat enters the bloodstream and blocks blood vessels, as well as complications related to the uneven absorption of the grafted fat, leading to asymmetry or the need for revision surgeries.

The most serious concern with BBLs has been the risk of fat embolism, especially when fat is injected into or under the muscle, where large veins can inadvertently be damaged. The fat can then travel to the heart and lungs, a potentially fatal condition known as a fat embolism. This has led to calls for improved surgical techniques and better education for surgeons on the safest methods for fat injection.

BBL (Brazilian Butt Lift) Safety

If you are considering a Brazilian Butt Lift (BBL), you have likely seen your share of frightening headlines. It is important, however, to read past the sensational headlines. While many articles maximize the fright factor, legitimate publications will eventually mention that the vast majority of horror stories have to do with one or both of the following factors:

  • Undertrained and/or unscrupulous medical personnel, peddling beautiful outcomes and low prices, often operating in factory-like conditions.
  • Medical personnel injecting transferred body fat into gluteal (buttock)  muscles.

If you remove these from the equation, the BBL is roughly as safe as any other plastic surgery.

Avoiding the Most Dangerous Providers

The massive popularity of BBL’s has created a sort of gold rush among providers, too many of whom may be undertrained, unethical, or both.

Many of the worst incidents involve people going to obviously questionable facilities – or even a residence – where unsavory practitioners peddle too-good-to-be-true outcomes at an extremely low price. Some of the fatalities, however, are associated with seemingly legitimate doctors who operate factory-like facilities, both in other countries and inside the United States, some in such areas as South Florida. In many cases, BBL’s, breast augmentation, and other procedures at these facilities are performed much too rapidly to ensure safety and quality.

The most common advice for prospective plastic surgery patients is to insist on a board-certified plastic surgeon. The latter is essential, along with an important additional word of warning: board certification is only a baseline requirement and, by itself, does not necessarily guarantee safe practices. No credential can guarantee that surgeons are ethical and concerned with their patients’ welfare.

To be specific, a spike in mortalities in the Miami area circa 2016-2019 was the result of several plastic surgery mills that were typically operated by board-certified plastic surgeons who, nevertheless, employed unqualified individuals to perform key parts of the surgery – including, in one tragic case, administering anesthesia. As you might expect, surgeons were also performing far more procedures daily than is safe, making dangerous errors due to fatigue. Botched procedures and fatalities were certain to follow.

Finally, some qualified but unethical individuals may use “ghost surgeons,” usually less qualified doctors,  who perform procedures without the patient’s knowledge so they can profit from doing multiple procedures at the same time. This has been widely reported in the plastic surgery mecca of South Korea.

Ensuring a Safe and High-Quality BBL

A Brazilian Butt Lift or BBL is generally a very safe procedure but only if performed by a skilled and experienced plastic surgeon who is not only board-certified but who has a history of safe and successful outcomes. A crucial caveat: Most people wrongly assume that a plastic surgeon and a cosmetic surgeon are the same thing. While the names of the specialties may sound similar, the education and level of experience of the two types of doctors are not.

Plastic surgeons must undergo years of additional surgical training after getting their medical degrees. After training for several years in surgery, they then train an additional number of years in the specialty of plastic and reconstructive surgery, much of it working directly under experienced leaders in the field. After this training, they must pass through a rigorous board certification process.

Conversely, no additional training is required for a doctor to advertise themselves as a cosmetic surgeon. Any MD can legally do this and many only take one or two additional classes before starting a practice. Not surprisingly, cosmetic surgeons tend to charge less.

Once you find a reputable and fully credentialed plastic surgeon for your BBL, don’t be afraid to ask to see pictures of past outcomes. Make sure they only inject fat subcutaneously. It’s also important to check that your surgeon is working with a fully qualified medical team in a credentialed surgery center and with a board-certified anesthesiologist.

As a patient, you should also be aware of the importance of following pre- and post-operative care instructions to minimize complications. This includes adhering to guidelines on recovery activities, such as avoiding sitting directly on the buttocks for a specified period to ensure optimal fat graft survival.

A Respected Los Angeles BBL Plastic Surgeon

With a background of consistently successful procedures with outcomes that have delighted countless patients, Dr. Steven J. Varkony is one of the most sought-after and respected board-certified plastic surgeons working in the hugely competitive Greater Los Angeles area.

Dr. Varkony is on the vanguard of the latest best practices. When performing BBLs, Dr. Varkony employs VASER ultrasound liposculpting. This state-of-the-art liposuction technique offers numerous advantages over older forms of liposuction. Because it breaks up fat cell attachments with ultrasound, it offers a more thorough and even liposuction over older techniques that harvest the fat by hand. In addition, it can harvest more fat cells for transfer to the buttocks. Thus, VASER ultrasound liposuction can allow thinner patients with less fat to undergo BBL’s in many cases. Some patients who may not have enough fat for standard liposuction techniques may be able to undergo BBL using VASER ultrasound liposuction.

In addition, while most plastic surgeons transfer fat to the buttocks by hand, using syringes to inject the fat, Dr. Varkony employs an electric pump, which allows him to place the fat accurately, safely, and precisely into pre-marked, pre-mapped-out areas. These areas are mapped out before the surgery, with the patient in the standing position, in collaboration with Dr. Varkony, to ensure that the fat is transferred into the precise areas where the patient wants it to go.

If you are interested in a safe and beautiful BBL with one of LA’s leading board-certified plastic surgeons, we are looking forward to hearing from you. To get started, please call us at the phone number on your screen or send an email via our contact page.

Dr. Varkony works out of his Encino office in the heart of the Los Angeles San Fernando Valley. His patients come from throughout the area including Santa Monica, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Westlake Village, Calabasas, Woodland Hills, Burbank, Bel Air, Beverly Hills, and Brentwood.

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