'Shot Girls,' Underground Butt Injections Exposed

Woman who received more than 16 injections warns against illegal practices.

ByABC News
June 13, 2012, 4:42 PM

June 14, 2012— -- In five years, Vanity Wonder, 30, has had more than 16 butt and hip injections to curve her waist line. Her butt has more than doubled its size since she began injections.

"I had always wanted a better body and, on top of that, I liked the compliments that I'd got when I was a little thicker," Wonder wrote in her book, "Shot Girls."

Fat is the most common substance injected for implants among certified plastic surgeons, which is typically transferred from another part of the body. Wonder's experience is a different story.

Ask her what kind of injections she has had, and she'll say that for at least the first two times, she's not quite sure.

That's because, in many cases, Wonder went to hotels in Detroit, lay on a massage table and let a "shot girl" -- someone who she said was clearly not certified -- give her the injections. Indeed, after each of at least her first two injections, Wonder was patched up at her injection site with cotton balls and super glue to keep from leaking, she chronicled in her book.

The practice is more common than thought, Wonder said. In her book, "Shot Girls," Wonder exposes the not-so-underground world of black-market cosmetic procedures in which many people are injected with liquid silicone, tire rubber and even super glue.

Although Wonder said the injections worked for her and helped her to reach her goal without any harmful side effects, she's now on a mission to stop others from doing the same. The goal of her book is to warn women about the dangers of underground shot operations, she said.

"Don't look at me and think that I'm living happy," Wonder said. "You may not come out like me."

In a growing number of cases, such practices have led to damaging and, at times, fatal consequences.

Wonder, who later became an assistant to a "shot girl" before she faced jail time for being involved in a shot operation, told ABC News that many girls refuse to get butt implants because they "are not trendy and cool."

Injections are seen as the better alternative because they provide a more firm and natural look, she said.

Black women, who once shunned any kind of medical enhancement procedures, are now growing more accepting of conventional means of undergoing cosmetic procedures, a report by ABC News' "20/20" found.

Still, Wonder said that many women, especially those who turn to underground practices, do so because they don't want others to know they have had any kind of cosmetic procedure.

About 12.2 million cosmetic minimally invasive procedures were performed in 2011, a 6 percent increase from 2010, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. It's unclear how many people participated in illegal black market procedures.

According to Dr. Malcolm Roth, president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the Wonder book might mislead many to think that these kinds of procedures are safe.

"We've all seen horror stories of people who have done the quick and seemingly easy procedure done by the non-medical community," Roth said.

Although Wonder details one of the shot girls as someone who she said was rude and uncouth, many people comment on her fan pages begging for the contact information so they can get the same procedure.

"They beg me for her number even though I don't know what was injected into me, and people want to know where she's at," Wonder said. "Nobody listens."

Some of the most common side effects of botched injections are severe allergic reactions and even ulcers around the injection site, according to Dr. Mark Abdelmalek, chief of the division of laser and dermatologic surgery at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia.

"There's a spectrum of danger," Abdelmalek said. "It can start as a little infection, but infections can be dangerous if you don't get control over it in a timely manner."

Silicone injections are among the most dangerous kinds of botched procedures, Roth said.