An NYC Corrections captain has died after going under the knife in the Dominican Republic at the hands of a plastic surgeon who had been prosecuted in New York for illegally carrying out procedures in the United States.
Tandra Bowser-Williams, 49, who worked on Rikers Island suffered a ‘small stroke’ one day after her fat transfer procedure at Dr. Hector Cabral’s Centro Internacional de Cirugia Plastica Avanzada clinic in Santo Domingo.
Dr. Cabral pleaded guilty to one count of unauthorized practicing of medicine in October 2011 in New York and then returned to the Dominican Republic, where he still practices.
Tragically she died before her devastated husband Curtis Williams could fly out to the clinic in the island nation to be by her side.
Days earlier, his companion of 26 years had promised him that he was going to love the results of her procedure but then he received a call from a nurse at the United Hearts Clinic that his wife had suddenly taken ill.
‘Her exact words to me were “You’re gonna love Dr. Cabral’s work.” I didn’t care one way or another. I accepted my wife the way she was,’ Williams told the Daily News.
‘They brought my wife out of the medically induced coma so she could unlock her phone, so that’s how she was able to get in touch with me,’ he explained.
Williams was told by her surgeon that a stroke had ‘swallowed her brain.’ Butt lifts and fat transfers are some of the clinic’s specialties.
What Really is a BBL?
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgery, almost 5,000 buttock augmentation procedures were performed in 2015. This number is currently lower than total facelifts and breast implants, but butt augmentation is the fastest growing procedure. These surgeries increased 98%, in 2014. Then seemed to triple each year up until 2020. Take a look at social media and you will see the desire for a new, rounder butt is only expanding (pun intended).
A BBL is neither Brazilian, nor is it a butt lift. It’s an augmentation of the buttock region using a patient’s own fat tissue.
This two-step procedure starts with liposuction of a different area, often the abdomen, the flanks, the thighs or back, says California-based plastic surgeon Dr. Steven Williams, and the fat removed from these areas is then injected into the hips and buttocks to improve shape and projection.
What makes a BBL dangerous?
A BBL uses a technique known as autologous fat transfer or fat grafting, which board-certified doctors point out is a consistently safe procedure; the risk of a BBL is specific to the anatomical region where the fat is injected. As fat is transferred to the buttock, that’s when surgeons “are getting into anatomic danger zones where there are a lot of blood vessels and it is very easy to have fat enter the bloodstream and literally clog major blood vessels,” Dr. Williams says.
The death rates for BBLs have been, historically, not good. One 2017 study placed the worldwide mortality rate at a whopping one in 3,000; 25 of those deaths occurred in the US in the five years prior. Thanks to more widespread education and better safety techniques, that ratio is widening: In 2019, one survey estimated the mortality risk at one in 14,921, and as of 2020 it is one in 20,117. That’s still higher than the mortality rate from liposuction (1.3 in 50,000) or for outpatient surgery (0.25-0.5 in 100,000). (All figures via the International Open Access Journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.)
BBL deaths have, for the most part, occurred because of improper technique. The problem with inserting fat into the buttock is that your butt contains a lot of very large blood vessels — “as big as drinking straws,” one doctor put it — which, if accidentally injected with fat, can result in that fat traveling to your lungs and cause a deadly pulmonary embolism. That’s part of the reason why most reputable surgeons have a limit to the amount of fat they’ll insert — there’s less likelihood of dead fat, which creates lumps and lopsidedness. (In popular BBL destinations like Turkey, doctors are willing to insert much more fat.)
How to Spot a Fake BBL Doctor
The best — and only, really — way a patient can make an educated choice about where to get any kind of cosmetic surgery is to research as much as they possibly can. Resources like certificationmatters.org and the American Board of Plastic Surgery allow people to look up doctors’ certifications in particular areas. Williams also warns against any surgery that sounds too good to be true: $5,000 isn’t enough to cover the costs of running an operating room, he says, without cutting some serious corners. “I’d say you probably shouldn’t pay much less than $8,000 for a BBL in Miami,” he says.