The buttock enhancement trend continues to grow, thanks largely in part to the technique of fat grafting and it’s superiority to buttock implant. Unlike the breasts, buttock implants are quite problematic; it’s no wonder when a recipient “sits” on their implants all day that problems may arise, and quickly. Due to the tremendous results available without implants via patient’s own fat, the Brazilian Butt Lift has skyrocketed in popularity.
That said, there are some hefty drawbacks to buttock augmentation with fat grafting. The heaviest is patient death. Board certified plastic surgeons Dr. Bruce Van Natta of Indianapolis and Dr. Kristi Hustak of Houston are veterans of fat grafting procedures, and know all to well the inherent dangers. Below they discuss the success of the procedure and address it’s safety concerns for curious patients.
The Safety Concerns of Fat Grafting to the Buttock
Fat grafting really resembles something more like a miracle than a standard medical procedure. The technique involves removing fat from a patient’s body and placing it back where that patient may be lacking in volume. “I wish I could take this fat and put it there” is no longer wishful thinking, but fact.
This technique is tremendously exciting for body contouring and buttock augmentation, as practitioners can manipulate the fat to truly contour the body. The procedure is so effective that skilled surgeons can even turn a pear shaped body into an hourglass – no implants required. This high volume fat grafting, as it’s called, is a powerful tool, but it’s not perfect, nor innocent.
As exciting as it is, fat grafting to the buttock has amounted to a significant number of deaths (significant meaning worth looking into by surgeons), paralyzing would-be patients with fear. “The point about ‘high volume’ is probably where people are getting in trouble with this operation,” shares Dr. Van Natta. “There has been a lot of publicity – and rightly so – about safety concerns. There are patients who have died from having this procedure.”
The deaths have occurred because of injected fat entering the bloodstream through deep placement into the muscles, causing cardiac arrest. While some of the cases have been unfortunate outliers that remind of the ever-present “danger” of surgery, many – and perhaps most – are to do with poor technique and/or doing too much fat grafting at once.
“In this instance, bigger is not always better,” explains Dr. Hustak. “Especially in this case, bigger can be dangerous. I think there is absolutely some conversation that needs to happen about doing it safely, doing it for shaping, and doing it in stages if needs be. Trying to get a Kim Kardashian [buttock] in one sitting is not feasible nor safe for a lot of women.”
Trusting Your Surgeon
Fat grafting to the buttock is in a strange place. On the one hand, it is a game-changing procedure attracting all kinds of interest from those looking to boost their buttocks, or just to get a better waist-to-thigh contour. On the other, and unlike most major plastic surgery procedures, it has amounted to a number of patient deaths in it’s short history.
The answer for patients curious about the procedure is to find and trust a surgeon before making a decision on the procedure. Surgery is, after all, dangerous. General anesthesia, while considerably safer than in the past, is still a danger. These things require experts at the wheel, not inexperienced practitioners who are chasing profits over patient safety.
Sometimes, the result will require more than one procedure. It may require some downtime, and maybe that second procedure will have to wait some time. If this is the advice of the surgeon you trust, follow it. The true danger lies in going with a cheaper practitioner to cut costs and time, rather than doing it right with those who know the procedures best.
“A lot of patients want a ‘one and done’ right? But we have to be the adult in the room and say, ‘Look, this is as far as I’m going to take it because your safety is important to me.'” shares Dr. Van Natta. “You can’t put 10 pounds of potatoes in a 5 pound sack. Keep it safe and do not get near the muscle, because that’s where you get into trouble.”