MIAMI — In hindsight, Nikki Ruston said, she should have recognized the red flags.
The office in Miami where she scheduled what’s known as a Brazilian butt lift had closed and transferred her records to a different facility, she said. The price she was quoted — and paid upfront — increased the day of the procedure, and she said she did not meet her surgeon until she was about to be placed under general anesthesia.
“I was ready to walk out,” said Ruston, 44, of Lake Alfred in Central Florida. “But I had paid everything.”
A few days after the July procedure, Ruston was hospitalized due to infection, blood loss, and nausea, her medical records show.
“I went cheap. That’s what I did,” Ruston recalled recently. “I looked for the lowest price, and I found him on Instagram.”
People like Ruston are commonly lured to office-based surgery centers in South Florida through social media marketing that makes Brazilian butt lifts and other cosmetic surgery look deceptively painless, safe, and affordable, say researchers, patient advocates, and surgeon groups.
Unlike ambulatory surgery centers and hospitals, where a patient might stay overnight for observation after treatment, office-based surgery centers offer procedures that don’t typically require an inpatient stay and are regulated as an extension of a doctor’s private practice.
But suc …