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Woman Died From Fat Clots After Undergoing Cosmetic Procedure

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) - Fat clots in her lungs and heart killed a West Virginia woman who died after undergoing a cosmetic procedure at a Hialeah clinic, according to the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner.

A 911 call from the clinic was released Tuesday.  On the call, a woman, apparently a staff member, says "she's not breathing, she's not breathing.  Complete cardiac arrest."

Heather Meadows, 29, was rushed to Palm Springs General Hospital on Thursday, May 12th, after she suffered "medical complications" at the Encore Plastic Surgery at 1738 W. 49th Street.

Fat particles clogged the arteries of Meadows' lungs and heart, causing the organs to fail, according to the medical examiner's office.

A secondary cause of death was listed as complications from a lipid transfer, according to CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald. The fat particles that killed Meadows likely entered her bloodstream through a vein during a fat transfer procedure

Fat transfer is a common procedure performed during what is known as a "Brazilian Butt Lift." During the procedure, liposuction is performed on the torso and that fat is then injected into the buttocks area.

Cosmetic surgeons say fat clot complications are rare and almost always fatal. They add that in performing a liposuction, they have to be careful not to probe too deeply while extracting fat.

Dr. Jose Rodriguez-Feliz of Miami Cosmetic Surgery said that was the error that probably occurred in Heather Meadow's case.

"This is something that can definitely be prevented, if (the fat transfer) is performed in a correct way," Rodriguez-Feliz said.

In the past, the Florida Department of Health has charged physicians who worked at Encore Plastic Surgery and two other affiliated clinics, Vanity Cosmetic Surgery and Spectrum Aesthetics in Miami, with medical malpractice and employing unlicensed professionals.  The state is moving to revoke the license of one of the doctors, who is appealing.

It has not been revealed what physician performed the surgery on Meadows.

Dr. Rodriguez-Feliz said it is important for patients to carefully research a physician before undergoing plastic surgery or cosmetic procedures.  He advises getting recommendations from friends or relatives who have had positive outcomes.  It is important to know, Rodriguez-Feliz said, that any M.D. may perform plastic surgery, but patients should use only doctors who are listed as board certified or board eligible by the American Society of Plastic Surgery.  The organization's website reveals that no doctors identified by CBS4 News as associated with Encore or its affiliated clinics are certified.

Click Here to see if your doctor or a doctor you are considering is certified in his or her field. Click here to check for board certified or board eligible plastic surgeons.

To see if your doctor has any complaints or disciplines against him or her, click here.

CBS4 has learned that many doctors operate at Encore and the Vanity Cosmetic Center in west Miami-Dade.

Encore's website lists two surgeons, Dr. James McAdoo and Dr. Orlando Llorente. Neither have any history of complaints or discipline by the state. It's not clear if either of these doctors operated on Meadows.

In 2013, a 51-year-old woman died of the same cause, fat clots in her lung, after a similar cosmetic procedure at a clinic affiliated with Encore, Vanity Cosmetic Surgery in Miami.

CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed to this report.

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