Toxic Butt-Boosting Injections: Why Is It Still Happening?

VIDEO: When Plastic Surgery Goes Wrong
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It's not the first time patients have allegedly been harmed by a risky, unapproved approach to a larger, curvier backside -- and it probably won't be the last.

So say cosmetic surgeons in response to the latest news of another untrained practitioner -- this time a 28-year-old model in New Brunswick, N.J. -- facing charges of practicing medicine without a license in offering butt-boosting injections, according to reports this week in the Star-Ledger.

Anivia Cruz-Dilworth allegedly injected six women in the buttocks with silicone bathtub caulk in March. The women reportedly showed up in hospital emergency rooms complaining of problems, several requiring surgery to treat serious bacterial infections.

"Her actions caused a lot of harm," Assistant Prosecutor Peter Sepulveda of the Essex County Prosecutor's Office told the Newark paper. "One woman had to undergo five separate hospitalizations and multiple surgeries as a result of the injuries sustained from the unlawfully performed buttocks injections."

Illegal butt-boosting procedures have sent other women in Florida to the hospital in recent years as well. Ana Josefa Sevilla, 54, was charged in September with practicing medicine without a license in connection with a woman she allegedly treated at a Miami spa.

Authorities in Tampa arrested Sharhonda Lindsay, 33, in January 2009 for allegedly injecting two acquaintances with a product believed to be a homemade combination of commercial silicone gel and saline.

Cosmetic surgeons said the occurrence of such procedures is evidence that much of the public remains uneducated about the difference between the risky, unapproved practice and legitimate cosmetic surgery. For some, they say, the promise of a quick fix can be all too tempting.

Economy, Ignorance Factor Into Risky Procedure's Popularity

"This is a real problem, especially with the slow economy," said Dr. Julius Few, commissioner of cosmetic medicine for the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

"More people are trying to achieve an enhancement, all over the body, the 'easy way,' and large volume silicone injections to the buttock is an example. It seems easy, you see the change right away, and it is cheap because industrial-grade material is used, not medical."

Still, even "cheap" procedures can cost hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars per session.

Dr. Garry Brody, professor emeritus of plastic surgery at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine in Los Angeles, said, "Silicone caulking is usually used to caulk bathtubs and many ignorant folks -- including lawyers that I have met -- think that silicone is silicone is silicone."

Brody compares the term "silicone" to the generic term "oils." In other words, while there are some oils used to cook food, it would not be wise to use motor oil for the same purpose.

More often than not, the industrial-grade material used in these procedures leads to serious problems. Dr. Rhoda Narins, a clinical professor of dermatology at the New York University School of Medicine, said at the time of the Miami case that such unfortunate cases are an all-too-common result of people seeking cosmetic enhancement at the hands of untrained professionals.

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