Body by Home Depot

Just when you think you have heard it all, a new and bizarre tale of cosmetic surgery rears its head. If I didn’t know any better, this story may well have happened in China or the back streets of a remote Siberian city.

From the Garden state of New Jersey in Essex County, a group of female patients (six to be exact) ended up in hospitals after undergoing buttock enhancement. Apparently, they received buttocks enhancement injections containing caulking material. The same material that is used to caulk windows and bathtubs was injected to make their glutes larger. Different from medical-grade silicone, the substance used in these Mengele-like botched procedures was believed to be a diluted version of a nonmedical-grade silicone. Traditional buttock enlargement procedures are done with either a medical-grade solid silicone implant or with fat injections.

Apparently administered by unlicensed providers, the women were admitted to hospitals following  the injections after developing raging infections. They were treated with surgery and antibiotics and appear to be recovering (although, you can be certain their buttocks will never be the same).

While many may wonder why anyone would want their buttocks enlarged (since many women would actually want them reduced), this is a popular request amongst certain ethic groups where a fuller and rounder buttocks is more appealing. Some have called this the Jennifer Lopez effect.

While these cases are certainly a tragedy, the looming question is how could this happen? In a country with the finest and most advanced medical technology in the world, how does someone come to the fate of having their butt caulked?

While injectable aesthetic treatments, such as Botox, collagen and fat, have been a real advance in plastic surgery, there is a rare, dark side to the concept. Because injection therapy is not surgery, it is not regulated like traditional plastic surgery procedures. There is no oversight and many of these treatments take place in a wide variety of settings by ‘providers’ of all backgrounds.

Because of their apparent simplicity to administer, injectable treatments are often viewed as a commodity. As in, ‘what treatment can I get for the lowest price’? While searching for bargains is commendable in many retail situations, a faux watch or look-alike handbag does not carry the same risk as do faux injection materials.

While not common in this part of the U.S., black-market injectors do exist and their practitioners prey on the weakest and least educated consumer- those that often can least afford it. As crazy as the butt caulking incident sounds, there has been a recent history of dubious practitioners  providing cosmetic implants of nonmedical-grade materials. They function in a makeshift office for a short time, then get put out of business…only long enough for other shady providers to take their place.

Most of these incidents happen in large metropolitan cities with a high percentage of immigrant populations. In such an environment it is easy to hide, to be invisible to the authorities, and find plenty of victims before moving on. Smaller cities like Indianapolis are more difficult for unlicensed providers to remain anonymous as they are more quickly exposed, and appeal to a much smaller population.  

The conclusion is …Caveat emptor: Buyer beware.  If the costs of the procedure look too good to be true, there is probably a reason.

Dr. Barry Eppley