Tamara Blaine began convulsing and having a seizure after being injected in the buttocks with silicon during an illegal medical procedure conducted at a pay-per-hour hotel in NYC. Tamara eventually died at the hospital after the woman who injected her, Tamira Mobley, fled the scene and then denied having any involvement with the incident. According to the medical examiner, “the silicone went into her veins, asphyxiating her and causing her to lose consciousness very quickly.” Blaine’s death has since been ruled a homicide.
The influx of women out to get curvier backsides has grown significantly over the last few years. Celebrity women like Nicki Minaj and Kim Kardashian are praised for their large derriere and the “little in the middle, but she got much back,” image has become so popular that women are increasingly seeking b*tt injections or implants.
Tamara Blaine found Tamira Mobley via the Internet under the company name Silikon Incorp. She paid her installments of $500 to $800 for a procedure that can cost up to tens of thousands. It’s clear by the tales of injections done in back alleys or seedy hotel rooms, that some women lack the funds to have such procedures in safe settings under licensed surgeons and instead opt for cut-rate, and sometimes illegal jobs. Tamara Blaine isn’t the first and sadly, won’t be the last young woman to lose her life over the desire to surgically enhance their body or face through illegal methods.
While curvaceous figures have always been celebrated in the Black community, Black women are admitting to feeling increasing pressure to adhere to these coke bottle standards by any means necessary or otherwise feel unaccepted. “Love & Hip Hop” star Nya Lee allowed cameras to document her b*tt injections to educate women about the procedure.
Whether you agree with surgical enhancements or not, it’s better to be safe than dead. Instead of just talking about the problem, we reached out to three established surgeons to ask them the questions every woman should ask before going under the knife.
What should you be looking for when searching for a plastic surgeon?
Dr. Schulman: Make sure they are Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgeons and an active member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. This is very different from someone who claims to be a “Board Certified Cosmetic Surgeon.” Selecting a plastic surgeon for your buttock augmentation is even more complex. These procedures are very specialized and very few Board Certified Plastic Surgeons are considered experts at this. Your surgeon should perform at least 6 buttock augmentations per week and be able to show you over 100 of his/her own before and after photos.
Dr. Salzhaeur: If your surgeon is board-certified in gynecology, Internal Medicine or General Surgery, they may know how to deliver a baby, treat a flu or take out a gallbladder, but it doesn’t mean they know anything about cosmetic surgery. Most state medical boards have websites where you can review a
doctors malpractice claims history, more than one or two claims against a surgeon is an indication that there are serious problems. If you do your homework and a little online detective work, it should be easy to find several good surgeons that specialize in the procedure of your choice in a geographical location that works for you.
What are the different kinds of plastic surgeons?
Dr. Schulman: All board certified plastic surgeons are trained in all aspects of cosmetic and reconstructive surgery for the face and body. This usually requires 6-8 years of specialized training after medical school. This is general training and many go on to specialize in specific types of procedures, sometimes requiring additional 1-2 years of training. For cosmetic surgery, you want a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon who specializes in cosmetic surgery. Be careful and don’t be fooled though, because there is something called a “cosmetic surgeon.” This is simply any doctor – radiologists, general surgeon, cardiologist, gynaecologist, etc. – who decided that they now want to perform cosmetic surgery and probably took a few weekend courses, and now has the ability to call themselves a “cosmetic surgeon.” It can be very confusing to the general public and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons is always actively trying to educate the public about the difference between the two.
What health conditions should be considered before signing on for surgery?
Dr. McKnight-Baron: Patients should stop smoking nicotine-containing products 4 weeks prior to any surgical procedure and 4-6 weeks after to avoid potential wound healing problems. A patient should be healthy enough to undergo general anesthesia. A physical examination with your primary care doctor should reveal most potential issues and determine your perioperative risk.
What are the different kinds of b*tt enhancement surgeries?
Dr. Schulman: There are only two safe ways to increase the size of your buttocks: injections of your own fat that are obtained through liposuction (this is called fat grafting), or buttock implants that are placed in the buttock, similar to the idea of chest implants. Injections of other synthetic materials such as silicone are dangerous, potentially life=threatening, and illegal! No board certified plastic surgeon in the US will ever perform buttock injections with material other than your own fat.
Dr. McKnight-Baron: The methods that are FDA approved and performed by specialty-trained plastic surgeons are fat grafting/injections and gluteal silicone implants. The fat injections, also known as the Brazilian b*tt Lift, consist of liposuction from the abdomen, flanks, hips, thighs, etc. to harvest the fat and then injection of the fat in small quantities into the gluteal muscle and surrounding tissue for augmentation. Silicone implant gluteal augmentation is when a gluteal implant (very different from a chest implant) is placed either within or on top of the gluteal muscles for enhancement. What is not FDA approved is injection of free/liquid silicone, polymers, PMMA, hydrogel or other synthetic substances in large quantities into the buttocks. These are often the substances that you hear horror stories about.
Which is the more popular procedure?
Dr. Salzhaeur: The American Society of Asthetic Surgeons noted a 58% increase in the number of BBL’s in 2013. More than 10,000 women underwent this procedure in the US alone, with thousands more opting to do it overseas in Mexico or South America.
Dr. McKnight-Baron: The Brazilian b*tt Lift/fat grafting is probably the most popular because in addition to enhancing the gluteal region, the patient is getting contouring in an alternate area that will likely lead to a more pleasing aesthetic result. For example, liposuction of the waist/flanks and abdomen paired with fat grafting to the buttocks will create more of a “Coke bottle” effect than if the gluteal augmentation were to be performed alone. Also the fat injected is the patient’s own tissue and is less prone to warping, infection, or the need for corrective surgery if issues arise, which is not the case with gluteal implants. If an implant becomes infected or develops scar tissue around it (capsular contracture), then it may warrant removal or revision of the implant pocket.
What are the costs of b*tt injections vs. b*tt implants?
Dr. McKnight-Baron: Gluteal augmentation has a broad range of prices. Fat injections can range anywhere from $4,000-$20,000 and up depending on the state and on the amount of fat that needs to be harvested and injected. The fat injections can be more costly because the operation is more labor intensive for the physician and it takes more time in the operating room. Gluteal implants can range from $4,500-$8,000 still depending on the state and the patient’s body shape.
What is actually inside b*tt injects and implants?
Dr Schulman: Buttock implants are made of solid silicone. They cannot break or leak and there is no risk for allergic reaction to the implant. Buttock injections should consist of your own purified fat that was harvested from you during a liposuction procedure. Despite what some physicians think, this fat survives very poorly outside the body, so your fat should be reinjected into you immediately, and not stored in a freezer for future injections.
Dr. McKnight-Baron: The patient’s pure fat when used after liposuction. Gluteal implants contain a more form stable silicone gel than what is found in chest implants. When silicone is safely contained within an implant shell as in chest, gluteal, or calf implants it is safe to use. Other substances that are not yet FDA approved for use in the United States include free liquid silicone, hydrogel, polymers, PMMA, etc.
What makes silicone and other street injections so dangerous?
Dr. McKnight-Baron: Free or liquid silicone is dangerous because it can migrate throughout the tissue in which it is injected and cause open wounds, nerve damage, infection and pain. When not covered with a capsule, it stimulates the body to form a foreign body reaction to it, which can also lead scar formation around the material. This phenomenon can cause intense hardening of the soft tissues along with painful deformities and disfiguring abscesses. Street injectors are dangerous because they often do not know the composition of and are not concerned about the safety of materials they are injecting (i.e. Fix-a-flat, rubber cement). They also do not know how to practice appropriate sterile technique to avoid infection. Those that are not appropriately trained also have inadequate knowledge of human anatomy and therefore don’t know how to avoid important structures in order to prevent injury.
How do the buttocks feel after surgery?
Dr. McKnight-Baron: One should wait around 3-6 months for all postsurgical swelling to go down before assessing their final result. After this period the buttocks should be soft and supple, and occasionally a little firmer following fat injections and gluteal implants. In some instances a patient can develop a capsular contracture with gluteal implants which leads to a hardened feel of the area around the implant oftentimes with a visual deformity.
What alarming signs should a patient be looking for post-surgery?
Dr Salzhaeur: Alarming signs after surgery include, fever, redness, warmth indicating potential infection. Pain in the calf or leg may indicate a deep vein thrombosis. These blood clots can dislodge and cause pulmonary embolus which can be life threatening. Any difficulty breathing, chest pain or other serious signs and symptoms should be reported to your surgeon immediately and activate emergency medical services if needed.
Are there any other approved methods (outside of exercise) that can produce the same results?
Dr Schulman: Unfortunately exercises such as lunges and squats will never give the appearance of an enlarged booty. Yes, you can build up the gluteus muscle, but the muscle only makes up a small portion of the buttock and the majority of the buttock volume is fat. Lunges and squats may round your b*tt slightly but will never significantly increase the overall volume.
Dr Salzhaeur: No.
Dr. McKnight-Baron: Being cornbread fed!…I jest. Genetics play a huge role in fat distribution and body shape. Most African-American and some Latino women are blessed with curvier derrières than women of other ethnicities. Good old exercise is the only tried and true natural way to shape, tone and lift your way to a more attractive behind, aside from being born with a predisposition to a curvy backside.