What is Fat Embolism?

What is Fat Embolism?

by Omar Tillo

What is Fat Embolism?

Fat embolism occurs when fatty tissue leaks into the blood vessels, travels through the bloodstream into the lungs which can cause blockage and death.

Line thin

What is the risk of fat embolism?

Some studies estimate the risk of fat embolism in Brazilian Butt Lift (BBL) to be around 1 in 1000.

Line thin

What is the risk of dying from fat embolism?

A study published in 2018 showed that the risk of death in Brazilian Butt Lift (BBL) is 1 in 2500 due to fat embolism. This makes BBL the most dangerous aesthetic operation.

To put this risk in prospective here are some examples:

  • The risk of dying from general anaesthetic alone is 1 in 100,000
  • The risk of dying from cosmetic procedures in general is about 1 in 50,000
  • The risk of dying from abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) in 1 in 20,000
  • The risk of dying from BBL is 1 in 2500.
Line thin

How to reduce the risk of fat embolism?

Several measures have been recently recommended to reduce the risk of fat embolism in BBL. These are:

  • Avoiding fat injection into or under the gluteal muscle
  • The use of a blunt large cannula for injection
  • Introducing the canal from the upper gluteal area downwards
  • The positioning of the patient on the operation table might also help avoiding muscle penetration
  • Surgeons should have advanced training and experience in liposuction and fat transfer in order to to be able to judge the position of the injecting cannula and the depth of fat transfer. Line thin

    How safe is BBL when the safety recommendations are followed?

These safety recommendation are based on theoretical and anecdotal evidence. Some recent clinical reports suggest a reduction in the incidents of fat embolism but the exact figure cannot be concluded at this stage.

Line thin

What is the medical advice?

Based on the available data, the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) issued a statement in 2018 calling on surgeons to voluntarily stop performing buttock enhancement procedures by fat transfer until a specialised group collects more data on the safety of this procedure and make their recommendations.  They recommend that anyone thinking of having a fat-graft buttock augmentation should await the emergence of further evidence.


If you'd like to ask me more about this procedure, please click below

Your name
Your e-mail
Your telephone number


Omar Tillo, 9 Harley Street, London, W1G 9QY
ember of Royal College of Surgeons Member of General Medical Council Member of UEMS Member of UKAAPS Member of British Medical Association ISAPS Member Insurance

Follow me on social media