When 40-year-old Kizzy London of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, died on December 14, 2017, her death marked the sixth in a string of similar tragedies in Florida’s Miami-Dade County since 2013. London had traveled to Miami earlier in the week to undergo a Brazilian Butt Lift procedure at Jolie Surgery Center in Miami. Unfortunately, London was never able to appreciate the results of her procedure because a complication during the surgery took her life.
London died of what has been ruled by medical examiners as cardiac arrest, after fat clots from her procedure were allegedly injected too deeply into the buttocks, causing blood vessels to rupture and allowing the fat clots to enter the blood stream. According to her autopsy report, examiners found multiple fat clots throughout London’s organs, including her heart and lungs. She also showed signs of hemorrhaging around a blood vessel near her sciatic nerve.
But it’s not the procedure itself that is causing an uproar in the medical community – it’s who performed the procedure. London’s surgeon at Jolie Surgery Center was a man named Dr. Arnaldo Vallis. But while Vallis is a certified family doctor, he does not hold any certification or special training for plastic surgery procedures, or for the Brazilian Butt Lift procedure.
“We see this time and time again with unqualified surgeons,” says Dr. Bruce Chau, a board-certified plastic surgeon from Berkeley, Michigan. “They think that they know enough about the body to do these very delicate plastic surgery procedures, and the patient ends up disfigured or dead.”
According to Chau, plastic surgery is a highly specialized field that requires years of training and constant continuing education
“Contrary to what they might tell you, not just anyone can do plastic surgery,” he says. That’s because the body contains a vast network of arteries and veins that, just like in London’s case, can be accidentally damaged if the surgeon doesn’t know what they’re doing – and as it did with London, this can easily take the patient’s life.
“Plastic surgeons train extensively to know not just how to perform a procedure, but where to cut, where to put an injection – and where not to.”
That’s why Chau and others in the plastic surgery industry recommend patients only receive plastic surgery procedures from licensed, board-certified plastic surgeons. According to Chau, doctors should have their licensing and board certification displayed in their office, but you can also request that information if it’s not visible. You can even verify if the information is valid. Many state licensing boards and professional organizations even have tools right on their website to verify licenses online.
“A dentist, aesthetician or family doctor doesn’t have the training to safely perform the highly specialized procedures a plastic surgeon does – no question,” says Chau. “Not that they don’t have skills in other areas. But you wouldn’t see a plastic surgeon to get your hair colored or to treat a cavity. So why would you see a family doctor for plastic surgery?”