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The Safety of Gluteal Augmentation and Fat Grafting

Safety of Gluteal Fat Grafting

The goal of Plastic Surgery is to correct deformities, repair injuries, or enhance appearance. However, most important is the safety of the patient undergoing any Plastic Surgery procedure.

Popular demand for Gluteal Augmentation (widely known as a “Butt Lift” or “Brazilian Butt Lift”) has seen a remarkable increase in the last decade, largely due to changes in the appearance of several notable celebrities and the changes that occur in the buttock contour related to aging. The two most common types of Gluteal Augmentation involve the use of: 1) gluteal implants or 2) fat injections into the buttock. The placement of implants into the buttock is problematic, as we obviously sit on our bottoms and pain and malposition (where the implant itself can actually move out of place) commonly occur with implants placed in this area. Malposition is visually obvious and can lead to more serious complications. Injection of fat into the buttocks would seem to be the most natural option, using the patient’s own fat (removed from other areas) to enhance the buttock contour.

However, a recent article in the journal of the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons reports a disturbingly high death rate in this seemingly simple operation. The deaths occur when the injected fat enters the bloodstream, usually through an injured blood vessel, and then travels to the heart or lungs. The initial estimate of risk may be as high as one patient death in every 2500 buttock fat injection procedures.

More studies are being performed, and our expectation is that recommendations will be made regarding the safest way to perform this operation. However, until this consensus is reached, the surgeons at the Centre for Plastic Surgery will not perform Gluteal Augmention using fat injections. More important than any procedure is the safety of the patients we care for.

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