Brazilian Butt Lifts Are Killing Americans Abroad

Nearly 100 people from the US have died in the Dominican Republic since 2009
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 28, 2024 2:55 PM CST
93 Americans Have Died After Cosmetic Surgery Here
A window display advertises low-cost "Brazilian butt lift" cosmetic surgery procedures outside a clinic in Miami on March 22, 2019.   (AP Photo/Ellis Rua, File)

US health officials say 93 Americans have died after cosmetic surgery in the Dominican Republic since 2009, with many of the recent deaths involving a procedure known as a Brazilian butt lift. The operation has grown in popularity recently and has led to deaths in other countries as well, including the United States. A report issued Thursday by the CDC couldn't say how common these deaths are or whether they're more common in the Dominican Republic, per the AP. The Dominican Republic is known as a friendly island vacation spot, and some doctors there advertise in the US, offering breast implants, liposuction, and other operations at lower prices. After an increase in US deaths in 2019 and 2020, the US Embassy contacted the CDC, which investigated along with the Dominican Republic's Ministry of Health.

They tallied 93 cosmetic surgery-related deaths of US citizens in the Dominican Republic from 2009 to 2022, or an average of about seven a year; all but one were women. More than half of the deaths occurred since 2019, coinciding with the increasing popularity of Brazilian butt lifts. In the US, nearly 29,000 of those procedures were done in 2022, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. The procedure commonly involves liposuction of fat from the hips, lower back, thighs, or other areas. The fat is then injected in the buttocks to change the shape or size. Risks include fat being injected too deeply, making its way into the bloodstream and blocking key arteries or veins. Autopsy records show that was the cause of death for 11 of 20 deaths, says Dr. Matthew Hudson, the study's lead author.

Cosmetic surgery complications aren't unique to the DR. Reports of deaths after cosmetic surgeries have repeatedly surfaced in the US, perhaps most often in Florida. On Thursday, the CDC issued a separate report on 15 cases of bacterial infections in women who went to a Florida cosmetic surgery center in 2022. Sporadic reports also have come out of Mexico, including last year when US patients were stricken with fungal meningitis after undergoing cosmetic procedures in the border city of Matamoros. Two clinics were closed and a dozen deaths reported. The report suggests steps that medical tourists should consider before traveling to get work done. "Be informed about who is doing your surgery, the qualifications of the person doing your surgery, and whether or not the facility is capable of doing the surgery and ... providing adequate post-operative care, which is crucial," says Hudson.

(More cosmetic surgery stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.