A Butter Knife and a Hernia: Extreme Do-It-Yourself Surgery

Whether they're for cost or convenience, DIY surgeries are baffling, dangerous.

July 27, 2011, 3:41 PM

July 30, 2011— -- A 63-year-old Glendale, Calif., man is recuperating at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center after he tried to operate on his bulging hernia with a butter knife.

Police arrived on the scene to find him naked and reclined in a lounge chair on his patio, with a 6-inch butter knife sticking out of his abdomen, smoking a cigarette. Sgt. Tom Lorenz of the Glendale Police Department told ABCNews.com that when the man pulled out the knife and as he waited for the paramedics stuck the cigarette into his wound, perhaps to "cauterize" it.

Dr. Jonathan Yunis, who performs more than 500 hernia operations a year, said the man, whose name has not been released, could have seriously injured himself.

"There is some confusion that people think you remove a hernia, but you don't. You repair a hernia," Yunis explained.

Because of this misconception, Yunis said the man may have been trying to remove his intestines, which could have proved fatal. "It would be interesting to learn what he actually managed to get done," he said.

The man's name has not been released, since he is being held on a 72-hour, involuntary psychiatric hold.

Extreme as it seems, this example is simply the latest in a string of desperate, do-it-yourself surgeries: One woman attempted plastic surgery on her face with store-bought silicone; a man in the U.K. tried to circumcise himself with nail clippers; and two Florida women tried butt-boosting injections, which landed them in the hospital.

"In general, people who would undertake a very risky surgicial procedure on themselves would be desperate and likely suffering from a major psychiatric illness," said Dr. Andrew Leuchter, a professor in the department of psychiatry and biobehavioral scienes at UCLA. "It shows a profound lack of judgment."

The woman who injected her face with a $10 bottle of liquid silicone had to undergo several reconstructive surgeries after her face became red and swollen.

She told ABC News at the time that she believed everything would be OK, because she had once seen a doctor inject a patient with silicone."It's very embarrassing that somebody would actually do this," she said. "Insane, I can't believe I did what I did."

The two Tampa, Fla., women who injected themselves with a homemade concoction of silicone gel and saline to enhance their posteriors suffered kidney damage.

But that's not the end of these home remedies: Amazon.com offers a home gastric bypass kit. One Amazon reviewer who said she tried the kit wrote that the first time she used it, it "was really messy" and that she almost died.

"I went to school for four years, and then seven years just to get the surgical fundamentals," said Dr. Jeffrey Kenkel, a surgeon and president of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

"To assume someone could perform a procedure in their own home is absurd."

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