Black Market Cosmetic Butt Injections Sicken Six Women

"We didn't used to hear about that happening in the States," said Saltz. "It used to be [happening] in South America, or in Central America."

The procedures still make up a small number of all cosmetic procedures performed. Only 4,996 buttock or gluteal implants were performed in 2009, compared to 2 million Botox treatments and 311,957 breast augmentations.

But buttock augmentation was up 37.5 percent in 2009 from the previous year and buttock lifts were up 34.6 percent, according to statistics from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

Research Pays When Going for Cosmetic Procedures

At the same time people's interest may not match their diligence in doing research on the procedures.

"They'll use the advice of a friend and not do their research," said Dr. Phil Haeck, president elect of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. "Too often we hear, people went to a spa and they never saw a doctor -- it's beyond belief what you hear people will do without at least checking credentials."

Haeck said unlike surgery, there is little regulation on which medical "professionals" can do injections. So even if a consumer goes to an M.D., Haeck recommends asking tough questions.

"Where were you trained? Do you have a state license in a medical specialty and is it posted?" said Haeck, adding that patients should also ask how many of the same procedures the doctor has done before. Even if an assistant ends up injecting Botox, Haeck said patients should be alarmed if a doctor has never taken their medical history, or if they can't tell that the needles have been sanitized.

If the women in New Jersey and Florida had researched a bit more, they might have realized that procedures to plump the behind don't typically involve injections of foreign material.

Saltz said doctors mainly use three techniques to enhance a derriere.

There's "fat injection, sucking fat from your tummy or from your thighs and injecting it into your buttocks," said Saltz. Another technique is called a "butt lift" or "a body lift."

"It's a great technique if a patient loses a lot of weight," said Saltz. "What you do is just lift up and remove the rest of the extra skin.

"Or there's gluteal augmentation using implants," said Saltz.

Those implants may be medical-grade silicone, similar to the ones used in breast augmentation.

But many doctors are seeing lay people who assume anything with the word "silicone" in it means it is the same substance as what plastic surgeons use. The public might even ignore how doctors use silicone in implants.

Dr. Rhoda Narins, a clinical professor of dermatology at the New York University School of Medicine, said that such unfortunate cases are an all-too-common result of people seeking cosmetic enhancement at the hands of untrained professionals.

"I have treated patients who had horrible results with permanent disfigurement after injection in spas and homes of commercial grade silicone by unlicensed technicians," Narins said. "These unlicensed people inject large amounts of a substance that clearly says on its Web site that it is not to be injected into animals or humans.

"There have been deaths in Florida from commercial grade silicone with injection into blood vessels of large amounts of [this] product," she said.

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