Doctors, law enforcement warn of illegal silicone injections

By Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects
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The FBI and doctors warn against illegal silicone injections to create shapely butts. They said the silicone is the same commonly used for caulking.

New cases have been popping up around the country, but it's a crime that's being committed all over, including Florida. Last year, a South Florida man was arrested, accused of injecting silicone into the buttocks of both men and women and then sealing injection sites with Krazy Glue. 

More recently, in a different case in Texas, a spokeswoman for the Hidalgo County District Attorney's Office had reported at least two victims who may have died as a result of a similar procedure.

Michelle Lee, an FBI spokeswoman in San Antonio, said so far there are no reported cases in San Antonio.

"However, we're concerned that there could be victims now or there could victims in the future," Lee said.

Three women arrested late last year in Hidalgo County await trial on charges of practicing medicine without a license at spas owned by one of them.

They are identified as 46-year-old Nohemi Gabriela Gonzalez, 37-year-old Elva Navarro and 59-year-old Graciela Leon, who allegedly allowed the procedures to be done at her spas.

According to their arrest warrant affidavits, one alleged victim complained her legs and ankles were burning and she couldn't breathe. She told detectives she had paid about $120 per treatment.

The affidavits also described another victim who was in intensive care for more than two weeks after intense pain in the buttocks where she had the injections. She also underwent several surgeries.

Dr. Filiberto Rodriguez, a board-certified cosmetic surgeon, said he tried to repair the alleged damage that was done by the silicone. Rodriguez said many cosmetic surgeons are not willing to take on these types of cases.

He said, "How do you cut this out without leaving horrible, mutilated scars on their butt? How do you replace the large volume that we're going to take out, essentially a tumor?"

Rodriguez said many do not realize, "It's illegal for anyone to inject them who is not a doctor."

Dr. Thomas Jeneby, a board certified plastic surgeon in San Antonio, said silicone carries serious health risks. "It causes a really bad, inflammatory reaction that you can see on an MRI," Jeneby said.

The FBI spokeswoman in San Antonio said in this case there is a federal statute that regulates the alleged activity.

Experts warn any enhancements or injections should be done by a doctor you've researched and is a credentialed professional.  To find a legitimate plastic surgeon, you can search on the American Society of Plastic Surgeon's website.

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