Brazilian butt lift deaths are on the rise, despite efforts – NBC 6 South Florida
A 33-year-old woman has died after undergoing a Brazilian buttock lift. She was the seventh patient to have the procedure performed by the same physician that day, according to an administrative complaint from the Florida Department of Health.
The complaint states that Dr. John Argyle Gilmore Sampson began operating on patients at 6:32 a.m. on June 16, 2021 at the Seduction Cosmetic Center in Coral Gables and began his procedure at 8:31 p.m.
“He had already performed six surgeries,” said Dr. Dan Del Vecchio, a Boston plastic surgeon who was asked by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons to research fat grafting, such as that performed in facelifts. Brazilians or BBL.
Dr Del Vecchio said when the lockdowns were lifted there was an increase in the number of patients under the knife.
“For about five or six months we were on lockdown and there were all these cases that were pre-booked…and then when they came out these plastic surgeons had a backlog and they were doing seven or eight cases a day” , Dr. says Del Vecchio.
But experts told NBC 6 investigators it could also have contributed to an increase in deaths from certain procedures in Miami.
“We were very surprised to find that in 2021 more people died from Brazilian facelifts than any previous year,” said Dr. Pat Pazmiño, board-certified plastic surgeon in Miami.
A series of NBC 6 investigations uncovered more than a dozen deaths involving the popular procedure at different clinics across South Florida.
“Through the research we’ve done we’ve noticed a couple of things, one, the deaths seem to be happening, the majority at the end of the week, Thursday and Friday…that’s consistent with fatigue and being distracted,” said said Dr. Del Vecchio, referring to the eight deaths reported last year.
Dr. Del Vecchio said fatigue could explain deaths like that of the 33-year-old woman who died last summer following the BBL procedure at the Seduction Cosmetic Center.
“What we’ve decided is that we’re going to put limits on the number of surgeries you should perform per day…just like truckers are limited by their hours of service, surgeons should also be limited by their hours of service because this operation creates a lot of fatigue,” said Dr. Del Vecchio.
Experts are going to recommend that surgeons limit BBL procedures to three per day, minimize factors that cause fatigue and distraction during fat grafting, and learn and incorporate ultrasound machines to guide them during procedures.
“We require every surgeon who performs BBL to do it with ultrasound so they can see exactly where it is, that it is not under the muscle,” said Dr. Del Vecchio.
In Dr. Sampson’s case, the complaint states that he punctured his patient’s liver, bladder and/or intestines while harvesting fat, then injected that fat too deep into her gluteal muscles, which is known to cause pulmonary embolism.
“It’s the number one killer in Brazilian butt lifts,” Dr. Del Vecchio said.
NBC’s 6 inquests into BBL’s deaths prompted a plastic surgery task force to investigate the procedure, which recommended doctors avoid entering the muscle during surgery.
The state accuses Dr. Sampson of medical malpractice, arguing that he failed to follow that standard of care.
NBC 6 investigators called the Seduction Cosmetic Center several times to try to reach Dr. Sampson and get a response from management, but received no comment when they hung up.
The state issued an emergency order prohibiting him from doing liposuction, fat transfers or BBLs until his case is heard.
The latest recommendations from the panel of plastic surgeons are expected to be published soon in the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Journal.