The Risk Of Wanting A Big Butt

(CNN) –Sophelay Ouk, 30, of Rhode Island, didn’t realize her wish for a more voluptuous derriere would lead to additional, and dangerous, baggage.

“I wanted the round butt. The whole J-Lo look,” Ouk said, explaining her insecurities about her body and her desire to transform it.

Ouk isn’t alone in craving curves. In fact, buttock augmentation is one of the fastest growing cosmetic surgical procedures, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.


According to a 2014 report, 11,505 buttock augmentation procedures using fat grafting — where fat is transferred from the abdomen or thighs to the buttocks region — were performed last year. That’s an increase of 15% from 2013. Buttock implants, another augmentation procedure, increased 98%, from 942 procedures in 2013 to 1,863 in 2014.

Fat grafting procedures have since become the go-to procedure, according to Dr. Scot B. Glasberg, president of the ASPS. Perfecting the techniques for a fat transfer procedure, commonly called the “Brazilian butt lift,” has been one of the instigators for increased demand.

The second factor? Pop culture. “Whether it’s Kim Kardashian (or) Jennifer Lopez,” there’s been significant exposure of the buttocks in the entertainment world, according to Glasberg, who is also affiliated with Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. But butt augmentation procedures are costly,averaging approximately $4,500, not including anesthesia, operating room facilities and other related expenses.


“I wasn’t ready to dish out $10,000 or $20,000 for a Brazilian butt lift,” Ouk explained. Then she heard about a less expensive alternative. A friend had achieved amazing results from butt injections for only $2,500 from a “Dr. David.” Ouk made an appointment.

“Everything seemed so legit,” she recalled. Dr. David, the injector, showed credentials, saying he practiced as a doctor in both the Dominican Republic and Florida. And even though the procedure was done in a three-story house, the space was set up just like a clinic, says Ouk. There were even other girls waiting for similar procedures.

Ouk was told the butt injections were safe, and indeed, the results were instant. Unfortunately, other symptoms were instant, too.

‘You can’t fix death’

“That whole night was just a nightmare,” Ouk remembered. “I was just so shaky. I couldn’t breathe.” Dr. David told her to drink lots of water and discouraged her from going to the hospital, but Ouk went the next day — the first of more than 25 trips she says she made over the next year and a half.

Meanwhile, Dr. David had vanished. The three-story house was empty when Ouk returned a week later.

Ouk’s now-complicated medical history includes bouts of pneumonia, coughing up blood, leg swelling and numbing in her toes, according to her doctor, which are effects of the silicone permeating her lungs. Although her experience may seem like the worst-case scenario, she actually considers herself fortunate.

Kelly Mayhew of Maryland recently died after losing consciousness in a New York basement, following what is believed to be an illegal butt injection procedure.

Mayhew’s case serves as another grim reminder of the red flags patients ignore to save money. Receiving unlicensed procedures, in unsterile conditions, with unknown fillers can produce huge health consequences.

“We see horrible infections, horrible scarring and frankly, horrible results from an aesthetic standpoint,” says Glasberg. While infections can be treated, other results, such as hardening scar tissue and chronic pain, can’t be reversed. And “you can’t fix death,” Glasberg added.

“Why did that happen to (Mayhew)?” asked Ouk. “I did the same thing she did. I regret not paying the $20,000 … to do it right,” she said. Ouk is now having surgery to remove silicone. “I’ve seen other cases where the girl would lose her limbs,” she added.


Behind the black market

While patients think they’re escaping the fee of a certified surgeon in the short term, illegal injectors are reeling in big money — but it’s risky. Kimberly Smedley of Atlanta served jail time for administering illegal silicone injections for more than a decade; her case offers an insider look into the lucrative dealings of the underground market. As part of an FDA criminal investigation, the government says Smedley charged between $500 and $1,600 a session and ultimately received more than $200,000 in cash.

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