The Florida Board of Medicine is taking new action to prevent deaths from the Brazilian butt lift procedure in Florida.
The board voted unanimously to issue an emergency rule in Florida that prohibits a doctor from injecting fat into or below the muscle. If a doctor is caught doing so, their license can be immediately suspended and revoked.
The new rule will go into effect over the next two weeks.
"It's rewarding when we can effect change that will cause an immediate effect," said Dr. Jorge Lopez, a member of the board.
The action comes after a series of more than 40 NBC 6 Investigations uncovered the deaths of more than a dozen women who died after undergoing the Brazilian butt lift procedure. That's where fat is removed from unwanted places on a patient's body and reinjected into a patient's backside.
In most of the cases, the women died of what's called a fat embolism. That's when fat gets into a vein or blood vessel and can cause a patient to stop breathing. Medical experts say, it is more likely to happen when fat is injected deep under the patient's skin into the muscle.
"It's one of the areas where there seems to be clear cut agreement in the causes for those fatalities," said Dr. Steven Rosenberg, Chair of the Florida Board of Medicine.
The changes come after Florida lawmakers passed a bill tightening procedures at office surgery centers in Florida. The new law will require all surgery centers to be run by doctors and allows the state to suspend a center's license in the case of serious injury or death.
The series of NBC 6 investigations also led to two worldwide studies. The first found a patient is up to 20 times more likely to die from a Brazilian butt lift than any other plastic surgery procedure. The second worldwide study recommended changes to way the procedure is performed. Doctors who participated in the study recommend using a thicker instrument to inject fat, called a cannula, and to only inject fat under the surface of the skin and refrain from injecting into or near the muscle.
"The thinner the cannula, the more it bends, it's too flexible," said Dr. Pat Pazmino of Miami who participated in the study and taskforce.
"The area that we are recommending to stay in is between the skin and the muscle that's about two and a half to three centimeters, that's less than two fingers," Dr. Pazmino said.