In a study published by the U.K.'s Royal College of Psychiatrists, doctors cite other extreme cases associated with a condition called body dysmorphic disorder, a mental illness in which sufferers fixate on a small or imagined flaw with their appearance.
Unable to afford professional treatments, one patient used sandpaper as a form of derm-abrasion to remove scars and lighten his skin.
"We've had several patients try to remove implants from themselves, try to take off skin lesions themselves all with relatively disastrous consequences," said Williams. "They don't know what they're injecting, they don't know the correct techniques, they can have problems ranging from infection injecting into the wrong area damaging vascular structure, damaging neurologic structures."
Williams says affordable at-home kits sold on the Internet are also taking off, from a simple clip that promises a thinner nose to more extreme laser treatments and acid peels.
One user wrote that she "loved the effects" and gets "tons of compliments now," but another wrote about a very different experience that landed her in the emergency room.
"[A] home chemical peel left third-degree burns, which led to a staph infection and several hospitalizations and emergency room visits," she wrote.
Mary now says buyer beware -- the mere $10 she paid for the price of beauty ended up costing her everything.
"The way we look, it's huge," she said. "I am frightened everyday this is not going away and knowing I did it to myself, I should have been happy with the way I looked."
The most important lesson she learned is that beauty is more than skin deep.
"I have to leave it in God's hands and realize there are more important things in life than how we all look," she said. "I think people get carried away with perfection. I have to live the rest of my life with this."