Brazilian Butt Lift Clinics Must Now Carry Liability Insurance Under New Florida Law

Practitioners of Brazilian butt lift surgery, repeatedly in the news after infections and at least two patient deaths in south Florida, must now obtain medical malpractice liability insurance, thanks to a bill signed into law last month.

House Bill 1561, approved by the Florida Legislature this spring, took effect May 10, when Gov. Ron DeSantis signed it. It now requires most butt-lifting clinics that transfer more than 1,000 cubic centimeters of fat to secure liability coverage of at least $250,000 per claim and an annual aggregate of at least $750,000.

Physician offices must also register with the state Department of Health, regardless of whether the liposuction procedure was considered temporary or permanent transfer of fat. Until this year, some clinics were able to avoid registering and avoid liability coverage due to the wording of the previous Florida statute.

The new law also raises penalties for those that do not register, from $5,000 per day to $5,000 per incident, allowing the Department of Health to fine doctors for multiple offenses in the same day, according to a legislative analysis of the bill. It also requires more inspections and adherence to safety procedures at clinics.

HB 1561 is a “pivotal moment” in the regulation of the troubled butt-lift business in Florida, Harlan Wald, a retired plastic surgeon who is now an injury lawyer, wrote in Law.com. Requiring malpractice insurance will allow victims to obtain damage awards to cover medical expenses and other losses from injuries and deaths caused by botched surgeries, Wald and his daughter, also a plaintiffs’ attorney, noted.

Health authorities in April said that 15 infections from drug-resistant bacteria have been linked to the surgeries at clinics in the Miami area. And in 2017 and in 2022, patients after surgery at a clinic in south Florida. A surgeon was allowed to keep his medical license despite claims that he was unauthorized to perform surgeries. Multiple lawsuits have resulted but in some cases, clinics have closed or moved to new locales, according to news reports.

Photo: A window display advertises low-cost “Brazilian butt lift” cosmetic surgery procedures outside a clinic in Miami on Friday, March 22, 2019. On Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 93 Americans have died after cosmetic surgery in the Dominican Republic since 2009, with many of the recent deaths involving a procedure known as a Brazilian butt lift. (AP Photo/Ellis Rua, File)