I have written about topics like this before, and every time I hear about one of these preventable tragedies I am surprised that public education is still needed. The truth is I am not sure that this is a true public education problem about what constitutes a real plastic surgeon. This may very well be more of a “you get what you pay for” situation as it is hard to believe that anyone would believe that these backroom providers are actually plastic surgeons.
This week, Karima Gordon, a beautiful young woman dies after she was injected in Jackson, Mississippi by an untrained, unlicensed injector. Morris Garner, a 52 year old who goes by the name Tracey Lynn Garner has been arrested and is accused of “depraved-heart” murder. WSBTV reports that her family does not understand how their daughter ended up trusting her life to such an untrained individual. The article describes that they do not understand how it happened and want to educate others so nobody else makes the same mistake.
I was shocked last year when a patient who I had previously performed breast enhancement in my southern New Jersey practice who I had told that I do not do these buttock injections was telling my office staff that she had received buttock injections in a hotel room in Manhattan. During a followup appointment for her breasts she related how for a few hundred dollars she had been treated by some unknown lady with a group of her friends. When I then asked her about this I was shocked to hear how common it apparently is. I doubt that any patient could get her buttocks “filled” for $100 by any real plastic surgeon as a syringe of a real filler such as Restylane or Juvederm is only about a tablespoon and wholesale cost is several hundred dollars. The volume needed to change the shape of the buttocks would be many, many syringes of a limited filler out of a box. These untrained undocumented providers use silicone products such as caulk and industrial silicone which no real doctor would ever use. Using fat for transfer to the buttocks requires liposuction, fat preparation, and fat transfer is labor intensive, requires a good amount of equipment and training, and simply is not going to be done by any real plastic surgeon for $100. This patient actually told us that she had it done several times to get her desired results.
The low price of treatment by these “fake” doctors drives people to be treated in back room spas and hotel rooms. I seriously doubt that any of these “patients” believe that they are being treated by a true plastic surgeon. People simply are not that stupid. The media draws attention to the problem when a tragedy occurs however I believe it is likely a widespread problem. I believe people knowingly go to these “providers” because it is cheap and effective. Most educated consumers ask questions and would not make this choice however there are some people who “know a friend that had it done and she was fine” and simply do not believe that the risk is real. Some people use illegal drugs, some people drink too much alcohol, and some people simply engage in risky behaviors. Many people may get away with these injections (of course there is zero data) however when it goes badly, the outcome is often horrible.
No plastic surgeon picks up his injectable supplies at their local hardware store and injects caulk or silicone into someones buttocks. The public must already know this. Thus, education about who is really a plastic surgeon isn’t actually the problem here…..
Just my 2 cents….