Individuals of color now make up 27% of all reported plastic surgery patients. (U.S. Air Force via Wikimedia Commons)
Individuals of color now make up 27% of all reported plastic surgery patients. (U.S. Air Force via Wikimedia Commons)

Social media and the immense peer pressure Black women face to have curvy bodies, a specific facial appearance and a derriere that turns heads have helped fuel the plastic surgery boom for everyday people.

According to the most recent report issued by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, in 2017, individuals of color made up 27% of all reported plastic surgery patients with Latinx accounting for 11% and Blacks representing 9%. 

But achieving that flawless look has often proved devastating – in some cases, fatal – particularly when it involves the notorious Brazilian Butt Lift (BBL).

“This procedure has become increasingly popular after celebrities like the Kardashians became famous for posting their often photoshopped bodies online,” Dr. Martin Jugenburg from the SixSurgery Clinic wrote in an email.

“As more and more celebrities and influencers adopted the extreme hourglass curves, it became the ‘ideal body type,’” he said adding that some of his patients would bring pictures of the Kardashians into their consultations to use as a reference. 

That’s when he said he decided to begin educating patients about having realistic expectations for surgery, being skeptical of photoshopped images and prioritizing their own safety and comfort over impossible proportions. 

“All cosmetic surgeries have risks but when performed correctly, the BBL is a relatively safe procedure,” Dr. Jugenburg said. “The problem is that many surgeons have not studied the proper techniques to perform the procedure without major complications.”

Essence reported in August that, as in-demand as the procedure is – it’s currently the “fastest-growing cosmetic surgery” in the world, according to The Guardian – it’s also perilous. 

“It was once common for the fat to be injected into the muscle itself but after surgeons realized that there was a heightened chance of the fat getting into the veins and traveling to the heart and lungs, that practice was mostly abandoned,” Essence noted. 

Yet fatalities remain high.

One study, Assessing Cosmetic Surgery Safety: The Evolving Data, published in May of 2020 in the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Global Open, assessed the safety of cosmetic surgeries and found that one in 15,000 to 20,000 BBL procedures end in death.

Dr. Alex Constantino at The Fitness Circle listed several potential complications that should be considered before one decides upon plastic surgery including: a poor cosmetic outcome, scarring, damage to the nerves or numbness, infection, hematoma and necrosis. 

However, Constantino said complications remain uncommon overall.

“Less than 1% of outpatient procedures experience problems, according to a 2018 assessment of more than 250,000 cases,” Constantino said. “Plastic surgery complications are more common in certain persons than others, like with any surgical procedures.”

Graham Byers, the founder of Best Choices for Seniors, said surgery counts as an “extremely traumatic experience.”

“It’s crucial for everyone considering plastic surgery to understand the benefits and drawbacks of the procedure,” Byers said. “It looks like a huge, painful pocket of blood. This outcome happens in 1% to 6% of breast augmentation procedures. It can also happen as a side effect of a facelift. Then, unexpectedly, you might also require additional surgery to remove the blood from a hematoma. This problem almost always occurs during operations.”

Regarding stomach tucks, Shakzod Khabibov, co-founder of Natura Market, said one consequence includes the appearance of a large blister that might last for months.

“Even if there is a potential for recurrence after having a seroma drained, the tumor must be removed since it may become contagious if left untreated,” Khabibov said. 

“Patients undergoing plastic surgery should take all necessary measures and get plenty of rest in the days leading up to the operation. [Specific] actions are required to guarantee a rapid recovery and faster healing is facilitated by proper diet and nutrition,” Khabibov said.

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Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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