After undergoing a popular but notoriously high-risk cosmetic procedure, former The Bachelor New Zealand and Dancing With The Stars contestant, Nazanin 'Naz' Khanjani, was left bedridden and suffering excruciating pain - and even fearing for her life.
In this day and age, there's a 'tweakment' or treatment for almost any perceived bodily flaw. From a nip and tuck here to a few millilitres of filler there, cosmetic procedures present a realm of possibilities for people to alter their physical appearance, from rectifying old insecurities to feeling more comfortable in the skin they're in.
Of course, not everyone reads the fineprint before going under the knife - and no procedure, whether it's an invasive surgery or a non-surgical 'tweakment', is without its risks.
Speaking to Newshub, ex-Bachelorette Naz - a vocal proponent of cosmetic surgery - said she underwent a Brazilian butt lift (BBL) after extensively researching the procedure, which has become increasingly popular over recent years. According to the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, a Brazilian butt lift involves a skilled cosmetic surgeon harvesting excess fat from the hips, abdomen, lower back or thighs with liposuction, before strategically injecting the fat into the buttocks to augment the size and shape. The aim of the surgery is to improve the proportions of the lower body, enhancing and reshaping the buttocks while reducing fat in areas where the stores can be difficult to shift, such as the belly and hips.
After conducting her research, Naz decided to opt for a supercharged BBL, an alternative to the sought-after surgery that is designed for patients without the excess fat required for a traditional butt lift. Instead, a supercharged BBL uses both implants and fat grafting to enhance the contours of the glutes, and is said to provide "more stable" long-term results. It's an option better suited for patients who don't have the necessary fat stores in order to achieve their desired size and shape.
However, the results are not without their risks. A report dated July 2017 by the Aesthetic Surgery Education and Research Foundation in Aesthetic Surgery Journal noted that one to two out of 6000 BBLs resulted in death, the highest mortality rate for any cosmetic surgery.
In 2018, The British Association of Aesthetic and Plastic Surgery even advised surgeons in the United Kingdom to stop performing it altogether, although it couldn't be banned outright. At least two British fatalities have since been traced to a clinic in Izmir, Turkey, the New York Times reports.
"I spent close to a year doing research on which surgeon I wanted for my supercharged BBL. I looked over clinics in New Zealand, America and Australia," Naz told Newshub. "However, I ended up selecting the surgeon in Turkey, based on his great reviews."
Although the likes of Turkey and South American nations are known to offer cosmetic surgeries at a significantly cheaper pricepoint, Naz says the location shouldn't be an issue as long as prospective patients are carefully researching their options and picking a qualified, reputable surgeon with a good portfolio of work and recommendations. Pointing to her own past experiences, Naz noted that she underwent a successful breast augmentation in Bali in 2010, but experienced significant complications from a second surgery at an Auckland clinic last year - just before COVID-19 alert level 4 lockdown was imposed on the city.
"I paid $12,500 for another breast augmentation last year to reshape my breasts, with a reputable surgeon in Remuera, Auckland - I ended up with breast hematoma leading to blood clots and infections," she said. "Location is never the issue as complications can occur anywhere.
"You just need to make sure your surgeon is good and specialises in the procedure you're wanting."
After almost a year of research, Naz eventually settled on a surgeon in Turkey, who boasted glowing reviews from previous patients and an impressive portfolio. After booking her flights and scheduling an appointment with her chosen surgeon, she and her partner of three years, Jonny Wilson, landed in Turkey on June 1, and the five-hour surgery was performed on June 3.
Despite being told the surgery went "extremely well", Naz noticed that something wasn't right in the hours following the invasive procedure.
"I felt like the nurses were changing the pads on my body too many times and I was constantly laying in a pool of blood. My entire body turned into a pale yellow colour and I was finding it difficult to stay awake," she told Newshub.
"The nurses stood me up at one point and I almost collapsed on the bed, I felt so dizzy and nauseous. They called the surgeon to come back to the clinic as he'd gone home at this point. When he arrived and examined me, straight away he called an ambulance to take me to hospital. Past this point, it's all a bit of a blur, but I do remember everyone around me telling me to stay awake as I'd passed out a couple times.
"I was crying, thinking I was going to die."
After losing a significant amount of blood, Naz was hospitalised, given a blood transfusion and spent four days recovering at the local hospital before being discharged. In the time following her surgery on June 3, Naz continued to suffer from fever, nausea, swelling and deep, painful bruising, although more recently, the significant discolouration and contusions have subsided.
Despite the adverse effects she experienced post-surgery, Naz maintains that her cosmetic surgeon and his team were supportive, professional and assisted with her recovery. She has also expressed gratitude that her long-term partner was there to help with the aftermath: bedridden and unable to perform simple tasks, Wilson helped her eat, drink and go to the bathroom.
"He hand-fed me and had me drinking water from a straw for days when I could barely move. He would encourage me to practise getting in and out of bed. I had tubes attached to me the entire time as I couldn't go to the toilet, so he got to witness all that too," Naz shared.
After her one-week post-surgery appointment on June 10, Naz was told she was recovering well from the significant blood loss - but the trauma of the experience continues to linger.
"I'm still in a bit of shock with everything that happened, but I knew the risks involved with this procedure," she told Newshub.
"I definitely had concerns about the procedure… it's considered one of the most dangerous cosmetic procedures in the world. Combine that with an implant, which makes it even riskier.
"In life there are risks to everything, but I live my life with a positive mindset. At the end of the day, it's my body, my choice and I'll face whatever consequences come from it."
Following her ordeal, Naz is urging people to do their due diligence and carefully research clinics, surgeons and the risks of the procedure before making any concrete plans. A staunch advocate for 'my body, my choice', Naz reiterates that people shouldn't be judged or disparaged for the choices they make regarding their bodies, noting that cosmetic surgeries can improve people's lives by bolstering their confidence and self-image.
However, she warns there are risks to every procedure: even seemingly innocuous 'tweakments' can cause complications. She also stresses the importance of picking a qualified and reputable surgeon with good reviews to their name - not who offers the service for the cheapest price.
"I believe there is a risk in every cosmetic procedure, some more than others. I support any woman with any decision they make about their own body, but in saying that, after the experience I had, I highly encourage women to do research and please make sure to choose a good surgeon," she told Newshub.
"I honestly believe there would've been a chance of me not being alive today if I hadn't chosen carefully. Location and price shouldn't be your main priority either - remember that."
And despite her ordeal, Naz says she is continuing to recover well and overall is happy with the results of the surgery - although it may take up to six months to see the final results.
"I've recovered extremely fast since my time in hospital and feel like I'm 90 percent back to myself again, 10 days post-operation. I really have to give credit to my surgeon," she said, before quipping: "I look in the mirror and see my ass and I love it."
In August 2018, plastic surgery societies in the US issued an urgent warning regarding the risks of BBLs, prompting the formation of a task force to provide guidance to surgeons after multiple deaths associated with the procedure were reported.
"The task force is concerned with the high mortality rate of this operation and is aggressively investigating ways to make this procedure safer. This new warning emphasises the continued risk that is being encountered with this procedure," Dr Jeffrey E Janis, president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), said at the time.
According to statistics from the ASPS, approximately 20,300 buttock augmentation procedures using fat grafting were performed in 2017, with the number of procedures more than doubling in the previous five years. In 2020 alone, 40,320 buttock augmentations were performed, which included both implants and fat grafting, reports the Aesthetic Society.
According to Google keyword data, 'BBL' was searched roughly 200,000 times per month between January and May 2021.
"Complications from the surgery are likely a result of numerous factors, including the technically challenging nature of the surgery and that the rise in interest has caused more non-board-certified and non-plastic surgeons to perform the operation," the ASPS noted.