Florida has signed a law green-lighting the strictest rules on plastic surgery in the country after an investigation exposed eight surgery-related deaths at the same group of clinics in the past six years.
Governor Ron DeSantis passed the bill on Tuesday in a bid to crack down on rogue clinics and the soaring number of people flying to the Sunshine State, particularly to Miami, for nips and tucks.
As of January, state officials will be able to ban or suspend a clinic at-will if they determine they are putting people in danger.
‘More than anything, it is something for the victims and their families to look at and… know that this legislation will save future lives,’ Flores said, according to USA Today.
Plastic surgery and tourism are incredibly lucrative businesses. But the climbing rate of deaths has been a thorn in the side of lawmakers and surgeons in Florida
Florida has long been a destination for people undergoing surgery – from hip replacements to breast augmentations.
Not only can you recuperate on the beach, the medical costs are some of the cheapest in the country.
For example, in Miami, the average knee replacement costs $27,000, compared to $57,000 in Sacramento, California.
The same is true for plastic surgery – a Brazilian butt lift (BBL), for example, can cost as little as $4,000, rather than $8,000 to $10,000 in New York City.
As such, though the South Atlantic region is far more sparsely populated than the Northeast or the West, it accounted for a fifth of all plastic surgery operations in the US last year, a report found – around 350,000 of the 1.8 million nationwide.
And dodgy clinics have been capitalizing on that image, luring patients with unbelievably low offers.
The issue came to a head in February when USA Today published an expose on Jolie Plastic Surgery, a group of clinics which is still advertising $3,500 BBLs online, despite being implicated in eight deaths in the past six years.
A BBL is a delicate procedure that involves liposuction to remove fat from the hips, abdomen and back, which is then harvested, then injected into the buttocks and shaped.
Four of the victims underwent BBLs, but their harvested fat was injected into their muscles, rather than their skin, tearing their arteries.
Since the investigation, two doctors have been charged, but the owner Ismael Labrador has not.
In 2017, two women died within months of each other at another South Florida clinic, Eres Plastic Surgery, after traveling there from Missouri and West Virginia, both for cut-price BBLs.
Some lawmakers have struggled to, and others resisted, put in place tighter restrictions.
Plastic surgery and tourism are incredibly lucrative businesses.
But the climbing rate of deaths has been a thorn in the side of lawmakers and surgeons in Florida, pushing even the American Society of Plastic Surgeons to take action to tighten up the rules.
Earlier this year, the ASPS conducted a report, which concluded BBLs, a signature of the Florida surgery market, carry a much higher risk of death: 1 in 3,000 fatalities compared with a rate of about 50,000 for other, lesser-invasive procedures.