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Appeals court upholds safety rules for so-called 'Brazilian butt lifts'

Florida-Cosmetic Surgery
Ellis Rua/AP
In this Friday, March 22, 2019 photo, a window display advertises low-cost cosmetic procedures outside a surgery clinic in Miami. South Florida has become a hub for the freewheeling industry in trendy cosmetic surgeries, drawing a boom in medical tourism. (AP Photo/Ellis Rua)

An appeals court Wednesday rejected a challenge to an emergency rule approved by the Florida Board of Medicine to place additional restrictions on procedures known as “Brazilian butt lifts.”

The board in June approved an emergency rule that limited surgeons to performing three Brazilian butt lifts a day and required that they use ultrasound. The procedures, more technically called gluteal fat grafting, involve injecting fat to enlarge or reshape patients’ buttocks.

A group known as Surgeons for Safety and seven individual doctors challenged the emergency rule at the 3rd District Court of Appeal, arguing in part that the new restrictions were not justified and would not boost patient safety.

READ MORE: Seven Miami-Dade plastic surgeons are challenging state restrictions on 'Brazilian butt lifts'

Brazilian butt lifts have drawn widespread attention, particularly in South Florida, and the emergency rule pointed to 10 verified deaths during the past three years of patients who underwent the procedures.

Deaths have occurred because of pulmonary fat embolisms, which involve fat getting into the patients’ bloodstreams.

In a four-page ruling Wednesday, a panel of the Miami-based appeals court declined to block the emergency rule.

“The petitioners (Surgeons for Safety and the doctors) question whether the number of mortalities constitute a sufficient emergency, where there has been no attempt to quantify the total number of procedures,” said the decision, written by Judge Thomas Logue and joined by Judges Eric Hendon and Monica Gordo.

“We do not believe we are in a position to second guess the Board of Medicine’s judgment concerning the number of acceptable deaths involved in purely elective cosmetic surgeries. In addition, the rule contains plausible and rational statements for the requirement it imposes.”

Emergency rules generally only last for 90 days, and a joint committee of the Board of Medicine and the Board of Osteopathic Medicine last week directed an attorney to draft an amended permanent rule, according to minutes of a committee meeting.

New Service of Florida