Box Of Surgical Gloves And Unspecified Liquid Medication Bottles

Unlicensed “chop shops” and unqualified providers give good plastic surgeons a bad name – especially when it comes to malpractice lawsuits. It’s unsurprising, then, that the effects of the under-regulated plastic surgery industry can greatly impact an upstanding doctor’s professional practice. Every surgery comes with risks, but the Brazilian Butt Lift (BBL) is especially controversial due to the high mortality rate associated with the surgery.

With the popularity of the Brazilian Butt Lift (BBL) on the rise, here’s what doctors need to know about BBLs and malpractice risk.

BBL Demand Increases, Yet Patients Don’t Understand the Risks

Most states make it relatively easy for doctors to provide cosmetic surgery. How? States allow medical doctors to practice and treat patients in any field, as long as they obtain consent from the patient.

“You can set up your own clinic and you could be doing liposuction tomorrow with no training in liposuction whatsoever, and it’s perfectly legal,” explains a Florida plastic surgeon in a recent Vox article. In fact, in the past few decades, Florida has quickly emerged as the plastic surgery mecca of the United States, and the malpractice lawsuits that have followed are plentiful.

Still, it’s estimated that about 20% of Florida’s licensed plastic surgeons don’t carry malpractice insurance. Since Florida also allows unlicensed doctors to perform plastic surgery, it’s unknown how widespread the problem of doctors performing plastic surgery while “going bare” actually is.

Women fly to South Florida from all around the country to undergo the popular BBL, which according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons was the fastest growing plastic surgery procedure starting in 2018. However, many patients neglect to ensure that their provider is a board-certified plastic surgeon with adequate medical malpractice insurance coverage. This lack of patient understanding of the serious risk when a BBL is not performed correctly has led to some disastrous results to the profession’s reputation in the media.

Despite the horror stories found all over the internet, TikTok, and Malpractice Lawyer blogs, the popularity of the procedure continues to grow with young women. A 2019 survey found that since 2015, there has been a 77.6% global increase in the number of buttock lifts performed (including the BBL).

Miami Florida Plastic Surgeons Have A High Risk Of Medical Malpractice Claims

BBLs, in addition to being one of the most common plastic surgeries, are now also named as one of the deadliest. A worldwide survey showed that 3% of the surgeons reported that they had a BBL related patient death. Both the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons have issued warnings about the procedure’s high mortality rate, claiming that BBLs hold the highest rate of death of all aesthetic surgeries, – one in 3,000 patients.

What makes a BBL so risky?

A vital artery is located near the butt. When a doctor injects excess fat into the desired location, the fat can enter the artery and block blood flow. Blockage to an artery increases the risk of heart attack, stroke and death.

Besides a blocked artery, there is also a risk of fat embolism with BBLs. Autopsies of BBL patients have revealed that fat embolisms can occur in BBL patients due to the fat being injected in or underneath a patient’s muscles. When fat enters the patient’s bloodstream, as it travels through the blood it can block a patient’s general circulation or cause a blockage in the lungs.

Other risks are those associated with general surgeries, such as infection.

Florida Law Restricts BBLs for Surgeons

In June 2022 the Florida Board of Medicine made a ruling that limits the number of BBLs a surgeon can perform to three per day and requires the use of ultrasound guidance while performing these surgeries. A newly formed organization, Surgeons for Safety filed an appeal to block the new restrictions, saying these types of restrictions will not improve patient safety.

How Surgeons Can Reduce BBL Malpractice Risk

While the Florida Medical Board and surgeons fight it out in the courtroom, there are some best practices that doctors can implement right now when it comes to mitigating risk in their own plastic surgery practices.

According to The Doctors Company, here’s three ways plastic surgeons can reduce the risk of a malpractice lawsuit resulting from a Brazilian Butt Lift:

  • Prior to the procedure, have a thorough informed consent discussion to establish and set reasonable expectations about outcomes and discuss the possibility of complications

  • Post-procedure, provide close follow up management to help patients recognize and prevent adverse events

  • Be available to patients when there are questions or problems

Medical Malpractice Insuance Attorney Helping A Plastic Surgeon Fight A Lawsuit

Why All Plastic Surgeons Need Medical Malpractice Insurance

Even the best doctors with hundreds of satisfied patients still get sued, and plastic surgeons have some of the highest rates of medical malpractice insurance due to the risk involved in the profession. One unsatisfied patient with the means to bring a lawsuit can drain a plastic surgeon’s bank and damage their practice’s reputation.

Studies show that plastic surgeons are at especially high risk of experiencing a lawsuit, with 13% of plastic surgeons facing malpractice claims annually. Though most lawsuits are eventually settled in favor of the surgeon, even winning cases can rack up exorbitant legal fees and defense costs, not to mention destroy their reputation.

All plastic surgeons need to protect themselves from a medical malpractice lawsuit, and carrying a malpractice insurance policy is a sure way for doctors to show their patients that they take necessary precautions. Plus, if a claim is brought against you, an A-rated medical malpractice carrier’s attorneys will help advise you on how to move forward.

Malpractice insurance also protects plastic surgeons from paying attorney’s fees and monetary damages that a court might award to a plaintiff.

MEDPLI helps plastic surgeons find tailored medical malpractice insurance solutions from trusted carriers with a proven track record of success. Learn more or talk to a MEDPLI Broker today to get your personalized malpractice coverage quotes.