A firm, round and juicy-looking butt. Many women today seek just that, after pop icons Jennifer Jopez, Beyonce and Kim Kardashian have turned the “big booty” into one of a woman’s most desired assets. And some women are even willing to die to get one.
Early last year, medics rushed to a Philadelphia hotel, responding to a 20-year old British woman who was having chest pains and difficulty breathing.
Claudia Aderotimi, a student from London and an aspiring hip-hop star, was rushed to Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Claudia was desperate to undergo buttock augmentation, believing that a “bigger booty” would help in her quest to appear in music videos. Friends said her confidence had dipped after she was dropped from a show because her “booty” was too small.
Three days before her death, the would-be video star had flown out to the United States with three friends to get an illegal buttock enhancement injection.
But the $1,500 procedure, carried out in the budget Philadelphia hotel, ended in disaster when Claudia suffered agonizing chest pains and died.
The 41-year-old transgender hip-hop singer who injected Claudia’s buttocks with industrial silicone, who had no medical background, is now wanted by the police.
Yet Claudia is only one of many women who are becoming casualties of a thriving illegal trade in dangerous buttock injections.
Some—like the 30-year-old woman brought late in October, coughing blood and out of breath, to Detroit’s Henry Ford Hospital emergency room—have been luckier. They, at least, survived.
The woman had attended a “pumping party” at a hotel five days before where she, and others, received injections of liquid silicone to “enhance” the buttocks and various body parts, a HealthDay report said.
Blot clots in the lung
The silicone—not the medical silicone approved for implants but the type easily purchased at hardware stores—had traveled quickly to her lungs and had gotten stuck in the airways. She suffered “silicone embolism syndrome,” or clots in the smaller vessels of her lungs.
“There are two types of side effects that can result from silicone injections,” Dr. Angel Coz, the pulmonary and critical care specialist who treated the woman, told HealthDay.
Silicone can travel to the lungs or go to the brain, she said. “The mortality in lungs is close to 20 percent but in the brain it’s close to 100 percent.” The woman survived after receiving steroids.
The past two years have seen a spate of butt-boost horror stories like Claudia’s.
One involved a 22-year-old woman who showed up at the UCLA Medical Center emergency room, also short of breath.
This quickly progressed to right ventricular failure of the heart and the patient died despite the doctor’s best efforts, HealthDay News reported. The woman had had injections in her buttocks from “a doctor in Mexico” earlier that day, a friend told doctors.
The silicone and solvent she had been injected with had damaged her lungs, causing her heart to collapse.
“Patients should run away from these procedures,” said Dr. Malcolm Z. Roth, president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. “You don’t do medical procedures in a hotel room or garage. This procedure is illegal,” he said.
Dr. Roth warned about the rise of “pumping parties” or group events held at hotel room or patients’ homes involving high-volume injections to fill up the face, lips, cheekbones, chin or breast. “Often it’s buttock enhancement and often it’s not sterile,” he said.
“It’s really a white-coat deception,” said Dr. Roth, who is also chief of plastic surgery at New York’s Albany Medical Center.
“Sometimes the person doing the injections claims to be a physician from another country and in some cases the patient knows very well it’s not a physician but, feeling they can’t afford to go to a legitimate board-certified plastic surgeon, they find a short cut,” he said.
“Patients need to do their homework and check the credentials of the professional they’re considering for their cosmetic procedure,” he added.
‘Big booty’ culture
Growing demand for a bigger bootie caused by a rising culture of perfect beauty being spread by show biz, the fashion industry and mass media, has spurred a thriving illegal trade in dangerous buttock injections carried out by unlicensed medical practitioners in backrooms across the US.
According to Dr. George Lefkovits, a Manhattan-based plastic surgeon, buttocks augmentation beats even breast implants and liposuction as the number one operation in his practice today. This may be an indicator of an overall growing demand for buttocks augmentation procedures.
The American Society for Plastic Surgeons said that from 2000 to 2011, buttocks procedures rose more than 140 percent.
Buttocks augmentation at a licensed cosmetic surgeon can cost anywhere between $2,000-$10,000 in the United States and in the United Kingdom, about £7,000.
But because buttocks enhancement is not even commonly performed in the UK, women there who want to have bigger butts are forced to fly to the US, seeking out backroom providers who promise cut-rate augmentations.
Injecting silicone bad by itself
But surgeons who perform buttocks augmentations typically use fat fillers, not silicone injections.
More, the silicone being used for buttock injections is not the silicone approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Roth warned.
While breast implants are encased by a solid outer layer to prevent the tiny particles from spreading through the body and causing infections, the one used in buttock injections is a filler, he explained.
“When silicone is being injected as a filler, it’s always been a problem,” he said.
“Plus, this is likely not medical grade silicone, it probably isn’t sterile and there are a lot of potential infections and skin gangrene. If it travels through the blood stream, it can and will go to other organs,” he added.
According to the FDA, the medical-grade liquid version of the silicone is only approved for detached retinas.
“Silicone is a gel that’s injected, but composed of small particles,” continued Roth. “It can get absorbed by white blood cells and get taken up into the blood stream and travel through the blood vessels and into the lymph nodes and other organs,” he explained. “So, really, not only is it not good not only because it’s not being done by a certified plastic surgeon—but also because it’s being done at all.”
Women shouldn’t allow themselves to be tempted to cut costs by having a medical procedure in “the very non-medical environment of a hotel,” Dr. Roth said.
Ironically, the cost to fix the botched procedures is usually more than the cost would have been if “they had gone to the right person in the first place,” Dr. Roth pointed out.
“More importantly, sometimes those complications are irreversible or life-threatening.”
“There are no shortcuts to safe outcomes,” Roth said.