The shadowy world of “gluteal enhancement”

Bizarre, NakedLaw, News

Since 2013, buttocks implants have more than doubled and buttock lifts have gone up over 40%. This might be at least partially explained by the popularity of stars like Jennifer Lopez, Kim Kardashian, Niki Minaj, and Beyoncé, whose curvier body types are consistently plastered across magazine covers and ogled online. Whatever is driving the interest, it’s clear butts are big right now, both figuratively and—given the abundance of paying customers who would emulate these contemporary sex symbols—literally.

But in the middle of this rump-revering zeitgeist is a dark underworld of basement surgeries and hotel injection therapies. Stories abound of unscrupulous doctors and sketchy amateurs injecting all manner of industrial chemicals into the behinds of those wishing to save a dollar.

A backside to die for?

Humans have been injecting industrial chemicals into their bodies for cosmetic improvement since at least the late 19th century, when paraffin was injected in breast augmentation operations, with inevitably tragic results.

The list of materials once used in amateur cosmetic surgery before the introduction of silicone in the 1940s is limited only by one’s imagination, and includes ivory balls, glass balls, vegetable oils, mineral oil, lanolin, beeswax, shellac, silk fabric, epoxy resin, ground rubber, ox cartilage, sponges, sacs, rubber, goat’s milk, soybean oil, peanut oil, and glazier’s putty.

Even with the advent of relatively safe forms of gluteal enhancement, such as the Brazilian Butt Lift, there is still a consumer base of those who prefer cheaper, quicker solutions, no matter how dangerous. In March of 2015, Padge-Victoria Windslowe (aka “Black Madam”) was found guilty of murdering an exotic dancer at a hotel room “pumping party,” one of the thousands that the self-proclaimed “Michelangelo of butt injections” had been involved in the past. Her particular cocktail for enhancement included a mixture of industrial silicone and Krazy Glue.

Law enforcement and the FDA are busting the purveyors of black market injections, but because of the ease with which these businesses can start and maintain themselves, spreading by word-of-mouth, it’s impossible to know just how many clandestine operations occur yearly.

We’ll know soon enough. The apparent cosmetic benefits of the injections do not last, and end up adulterating gluteal tissue; in the worst cases, they penetrate an artery, causing the chemicals to spread rapidly to the brain and internal organs, causing death.

However, the surgeries more often result in infections and deformities. What started as a $2,000 hotel room operation can end up costing upwards of $70,000 to repair in reconstructive surgeries. Amputation is sometimes required.

Considered to be one of the finest gluteal sculptors in America, board-certified plastic surgeon Constantino Mendieta sees the damage first-hand, as he is often tasked with reconstructing rumps that have undergone illegal augmentation with disastrous results. In an interview with Vice, Mendieta said that “There’s no question that I’ve been performing these reconstructive procedures at an increasing rate . . . My feeling is that I will see even a higher number in the future, because it can take five to ten years for the injections to react.”

Injections performed by normal doctors not fail-safe

Botched injections aren’t just happening in murky backrooms and basements outside of FDA oversight. Legal loopholes in states such as New York allow licensed doctors to perform any type of cosmetic procedure, so long as they only require local anesthesia and mild sedation. One New York general practitioner has allegedly turned his office into a plastic surgery mill, with patients sleeping at the office for 3-4 days while being administered pills by nonmedical personnel.

As the law stands, any doctor can buy a liposuction machine and advertise his or her talents to generate business, and many are doing just that. The perceived encroachment of doctors and surgeons into the realm of licensed plastic surgery has caused a multistate turf war led by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Angry over the increased ranks of doctors—who may or may not have the necessary skills —performing invasive plastic and/or cosmetic surgeries, the ASPS hopes to use legislation to restrict the promotion of plastic surgery service in unapproved offices.

Until legislation passes, it’s up to the butt enhancer to make an informed choice; online communities, like RealSelf, which specializes in providing information about elective cosmetic procedures, can help find safe augmentation treatment options from licensed doctors.

Unfortunately it seems the only way we’re going to know the extent of the fallout from this wave of shady gluteal enhancement is when the injections start causing harm to their hosts. In five or ten years we may just see a health catastrophe, and a rising swell of consumer lawsuits.

Image courtesy of s_bukley / 

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