By Rohan Mascarenhas/The Star-Ledger
March 07, 2010, 9:46PM
NEWARK -- Six women from the Essex County area who wanted fuller bottoms ended up in hospitals after receiving buttocks-enhancement injections containing the same material contractors use to caulk bathtubs, officials said.
The women checked into hospitals in the county after their procedures, apparently administered by unlicensed providers, went horribly wrong, state health officials said. The women underwent surgery and were given antibiotics. No arrests have been made.
Different from medical-grade silicone, the substance used in the botched procedures was believed to be a diluted version of nonmedical-grade silicone.
"The same stuff you use to put caulk around the bathtub," said Steven M. Marcus, executive and medical director of the New Jersey Poison Information and Education System, who learned about the bizarre procedures through a committee he sits on that monitors outbreaks in the metropolitan area.
"What a tragedy," said Gregory Borah, chief of plastic surgery at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick.
Using over-the-counter silicone can cause abscesses that he said resemble "a big zit."
Borah, also president of the New Jersey Society of Plastic Surgeons, said the botched procedures underscore the need for patients who seek augmentation to have it administered by a licensed professional in a sterile setting.
A plastic surgeon doing buttocks augmentation would make an incision to develop a pocket underneath the muscle and shape the buttocks with inert medical-grade silicone, Borah said. He noted it is a relatively uncommon procedure in most practices and that he has done only two in his 24-year career.
By the time he tells patients of the potential risks — from anesthesia, scarring and silicone shifting when patients sit down — they often change their minds.
Breast and cheek augmentations are the most common procedures, he noted. Borah said buttock augmentation is more popular in some cultures than others.
The state Department of Health and Senior Services did not identify the women or release any details about their ethnicity. It also did not say where the "unlicensed medical provider or providers" performed their procedures.
"Fortunately, these women are being treated and are recovering," said Tina Tan, the state epidemiologist. "But there is the potential for more serious complications if these infections are not treated early and properly."
Investigators have not determined if the six cases, which began to be reported in mid-February, are related, but they have stoked concern among officials that such injuries are more common than previously thought.
Health officials issued an alert to state hospitals and doctors about the cases and the potential for more victims.
Marcus said there have been other incidents over the past couple years of providers providing implants of nonmedical-grade silicone, then getting put out of business — only for other shady providers to surface.
"Caveat emptor: Buyer beware," Marcus said. "If it looks too cheap, there’s probably a reason it’s too cheap."
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