Gluteal fat grafting, commonly known as the Brazilian Butt Lift, is a popular enhancement surgery people get to help shape and increase the size and shape of their backside. In fact, it has now become one of the fastest growing aesthetic procedures in the US and throughout the world. It is often used to help balance figures for a more proportionate look. Like other surgical procedures, gluteal fat grafting does involve risks and it has also resulted in some deaths. After learning of an investigation into the number of deaths in South Florida from this procedure, one plastic surgeon in San Diego, Dr. Mark Mofid, became very concerned. Along with some of his colleagues, Dr. Mofid formed the ASERF Task Force to investigate the issues surrounding the Brazilian butt lift.
Background on the Study
Prior to the task force’s research, physicians did not have measurable data to conclude the level of risk involved in this surgery. Fortunately, Dr. Mark Mofid and his colleagues conducted an in-depth survey of doctors across the globe who have performed these operations. These physicians collectively performed 198,857 gluteal fat grafting procedures.
The anonymous survey included 15 questions and was originally sent to 4843 plastic surgeons and of those, 692 surgeons responded. Most of the responses came from doctors in North and South America. However, a small percentage of doctors in Europe, Asia, and other parts of the world also contributed to it. Dr. Mark Mofid and his task force’s overall response rate from doctors was 14.3 percent. Of these, 88.4 percent of the doctors reported performing at least one gluteal fat grafting procedure over the course of their careers.
Based on these doctors’ responses to the questions in the survey, Dr. Mark Mofid and his team concluded that currently, the Brazilian butt lift procedure has significantly higher mortality rates associated with it than any other aesthetic procedure that is currently being performed. In fact, the risk can be up to 20 times greater than other procedures.
This was very concerning for Dr. Mark Mofid. In a statement to one Florida news channel, he said, “Surgeons need to be aware of, first off, that this problem exists.”
Dr. Mofid and the Task Force’s Findings
When Dr. Mark Mofid set up the ASERF task force, his mission was not only to uncover how risky they were but why they were higher risk than other aesthetic procedures. So some of the questions in the survey asked physicians about the methods that they used to perform gluteal fat grafting. Very detailed data was collected on the methods including questions about where in the muscles the fat was injected, the angle of injection, and even the size of the tube used to perform the injection. Dr. Mofid left no stone unturned in his study.
What Dr. Mark Mofid and his colleagues discovered is that the method of the procedure seemed to directly impact its level of safety. The primary cause of death in these cases was complications due to a fat embolism.
A fat embolism is a process by which fat tissue can pass into the bloodstream and lodge in the blood vessel. While these are rare, they can be deadly. Based on the answers from the surgeons who responded to the survey, there were 32 deaths and 103 cases of non-fatal embolisms.
According to Dr. Mofid, those patients receiving deep muscle injections were at the highest risk of a fat embolism. In an effort to educate and inform plastic surgeons of the risks involved, Dr. Mofid presented his findings at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons annual meeting in Los Angeles, CA in September 2016 and again at the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery Congress in Kyoto, Japan in October 2016.
The ASERF Task Force Recommendations for Gluteal Fat Grafting
In addition to informing his colleagues on the dangers involved with the Brazilian butt lift, Dr. Mark Mofid also shared his recommendations to improve the safety of the operation at these conferences.
“The effort here was to try to make this operation as safe, if not safer, than the other procedures that we offer,” he said.
A few of the recommendations that Dr. Mofid and his task force made include:
- Avoiding injections deep into the muscular tissue.
- Avoiding the use of downward angulation of the injection tube.
- Position the patient properly and perform incisions that do not create a path to deep muscle injections.
- Review the patient’s gluteal vascular anatomy.
- Inform patients of the risk of a fat embolism and discuss surgical alternatives with the patient.
While Dr. Mofid and his colleagues believe that more research is needed to increase the safety of the Brazilian butt lift procedure, his findings do conclude that how the procedure is performed can directly impact its safety.
About Dr. Mark Mofid
Dr. Mofid serves as an Associate Clinical Professor of Plastic Surgery at UC San Diego and is the Chairman of the ASERF Gluteal Fat Grafting Task Force. He is a diplomate for the American Board of Plastic Surgery and a fellow of the American College of Surgeons. Dr. Mofid also serves as a staff surgeon at several hospitals in the San Diego and La Jolla area, where he also has his own private practice.
He completed his undergraduate work at Harvard University where he was magna cum laude. Dr. Mofid then completed his medical training at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. While at the prestigious Johns Hopkins University, he also completed an advanced craniofacial research fellowship. He is board certified by both the American Board of Plastic Surgery and the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
He has become a leading expert in the United States for gluteal augmentations. Dr. Mark Mofid trained under the direction of Dr. Raul Gonzalez in Brazil, who has performed the largest number of buttock surgeries in the world. Dr. Mofid has also partnered with Implantech, a gluteal implant manufacturer, to design a high-quality implant. However, he does not receive royalties for his design.
Also be sure to check out Doctor Mark Mofid’s Interview with Inspirery: