Unsafe buttock injections in the news

I just finished reading a very sad report in the Minneapolis StarTribune about the increasing numbers of complications and deaths being caused by illegal buttock injections. The exact numbers are hard to define, but one non-medical website offering buttock injections has had tens of thousands of hits and gets more every day. The precise number of complications is also hard to obtain since most of the victims refuse to share their stories or their information. Most of the victims in the report were women who were looking for some way to increase the size of their buttocks without “dangerous surgery.”  Many were looking for a “cheaper” alternative to surgery. Most found the person who performed their injections through the internet though some also found their injector by word of mouth. One just chose the injector because the woman walked into her salon and offered to perform buttock injections for her and her clients. None of the injectors were medically trained and it appears that none of the victims attempted to look into the qualifications of their injectors before their injections. All in the report are very sad they did not do their homework.

 

The complications ranged from hard, painful knots in the buttocks to severe infections, amputations of limbs, blood clots, and even death. Some of the women have had to undergo numerous operations to attempt to remove the foreign material; others are beyond surgical removal and will have to live with the injected materials and the complications for the rest of their lives. The most commonly material used for illegal buttock injections was industrial grade silicone; something you can buy at any home improvement store. Industrial grade silicone is very different from medical grade silicone and even medical grade silicone is not approved for buttock injections. Other victims were injected with materials that are completely unknown to the doctors that treated their complications. Almost all of the victims recall being told that the material is “safe” and “will cause no harm.” Many of the victims had their injections performed in their own houses or at houses used by the injectors for their trade. None were performed in a medical facility and none were performed under sterile conditions.

Most recently, this report entitled “Buttloads of Pain” emerged in the news, again highlighting the horrifying consequences of having this procedure performed by untrained hands.
To date, there are only two approved methods of buttock augmentation in the United States. One method uses buttock implants which are similar to but not exactly the same as some types of breast implants. Buttock implants are not as popular in the United States as in they are in other parts of the world, most likely because the types of implants available in the USA are not as advanced in their technology when compared to the butt implants used in the rest of the world.
The other method approved for buttock augmentation is a fat transfer in which fat is harvested from one area of the body, processed and cleansed, and then injected into the buttocks. This procedure is commonly called a Brazilian Butt Lift. This technique does require very careful treatment of the fat and also very precise injection of the fat into the buttocks to obtain a long-lasting aesthetic result. This technique should not be confused with basic liposuction since it is different in how the fat is obtained and how it is handled.
All surgeries can have complications. Every surgeon knows that but this is also why surgeons spend all of those years in training to learn how to minimize the risks for complications and if a complication should occur, how to treat the complication and take care of the patient.
It is so sad to read articles like the one cited but until patients are willing to do their homework and state legislatures allow the passage of laws–Truth in Advertising laws–that require everyone who treats a patient to clearly list their qualifications, I guess I will be seeing more of these reports in the future and that makes me sad.
Do your homework. Be safe!

 

-Dr. Lund

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