I first read about the death of former Miss Argentina, 37-year old Solange Magnano, on AOL News; she died on November 30th after undergoing a gluteal recontouring (“gluteal augmentation” or “buttocks augmentation”) procedure. This is an unfortunate, saddening event, which Argentina is now facing but is not alone. There was a similar case in Florida several years ago where someone injected silicone into the buttock of a person and that individual passed away. The injections were done by a non-plastic surgeon in an underground “pumping party” in an apartment-type setting. While the circumstances surrounding Mrs. Magnano are still unknown, preliminary reports are stating a liquid type injection was used.
All cosmetic surgery procedures pose potential risks and complications, and gluteal recontouring is no exception. It is said to have been liquid injections that caused problems for Magnano, however, reports are not yet providing definitive details regarding the substance used for her butt augmentation surgery. As a highly trained and experienced Miami plastic surgeon who specializes in butt enhancement surgery I would like to address many who are understandably concerned and upset, by providing some factual information about gluteal reshaping and augmentation.
There are currently three butt augmentation techniques:
(1) Fat grafting: This method is becoming the standard for gluteal augmentation and or gluteal reshaping. It has become extremely popular for several reasons; first of all, we are augmenting and reshaping the buttock using your own body tissue. Essentially we take or remove the unwanted fat from areas that have been troubling us for years and then turn around and use the fat to inject in the buttock, giving you a very natural, sexy, and more curvaceous result. This is essentially two procedures in one. My “Highlight Liposculpting and Lipo Fat Transfer” signature technique delicately recontours the abdomen, waist, hips, and then reshapes and lifts the buttocks using a 3-D approach. There is less than a one percent chance of complications arising from fat grafting because it is all natural. I receive multiple phone calls a day regarding butt enhancement surgery via fat grafting, which proves its growing demand. The complications are mainly the complication associate with liposuction; skin irregularities, fluid collection, skin discoloration, skin scabbing, skin dryness, and fat reabsorption.
(2) Butt implants: For many years this was the primary way of augmenting the buttock. Although it has been around since the 1960s it never really gained popularity, and many surgeons just simply ignored this part of the body. It was Jennifer Lopez in the late 90s and early 2000 that revived the dormant interest and many patients began to inquire about buttock surgery. At the time, very little information existed on the procedure. So I set out to classify, explore, and perfect the technique. We have made tremendous advancements, but the most important was learning how to decrease the complication. In the beginning, gluteal implant augmentation had a 30 percent complication rate, and we were able to decrease that to about two to four percent by improving our techniques, learning how to pick our patients, and finally learning how to select the correct implant shape, texture, and size. The procedure is performed by placing scars in the gluteal crease and the implant can be placed under the fascia, or in the muscle. When considering implant surgery, there must be enough skin and fat to stretch over the implant and the implant cannot be too large because the larger the implant the more difficult it is to close the incision. In today’s world, fat grafting is the first choice for buttock contouring. Some thin patients can gain 15 to 20 pounds to have the fat grafting performed, but many patients are so thin that they cannot gain weight and it is in these very thin individuals that implant augmentation is preferred. The complication in this group is low (about two to four percent). The main complications that exist are wound dehiscence (wound opens up), or infections of the implants that require the implants to be removed. But again permanent-type products can create permanent or lifetime risk; the implant my become hard (known as capsular contracture), the implant may shift or move over time, the implant may extrude (meaning coming out or being rejected), the patient may develop fluid around the implant requiring the implant to be removed, etc. None of these complications are seen with fat grafting because it is your own body tissue and the body will not reject it.
(3) Fillers: The third way to augment the buttock is through body fillers. This is where all the controversy is arising. Recently another Latin pop star Alejandra Guzman was hospitalized for some injections to the buttock that became infected, also making headline news since she ended up in the intensive care unit. These fillers being used are not approved in the United States. The attractiveness of butt fillers may be due to the fact that they are known to cost much less than fat grafting and butt implant surgery, and offer no downtime. Many patients can look very good in the beginning; however, it may produce a disfigurement problem within five to 10 years from a foreign body reaction. These reactions occur because the products may not be as pure and have certain preservatives that can react later in life. The other issues with these fillers are that there are currently no standards or monitoring system as to the quality of the product being made and many of these fillers are not as pure. They are often purchased in the black market or they look for the least expensive product. This is highly dangerous. Although such fillers as silicone, hydrogel, aquagel and PMMP (polymethylmethacrilate microspheres) are being used overseas for butt augmentation, they are currently not FDA approved for use in the United States. The FDA is what controls the quality of what is standard and accepted, and it is done through clinical trials, research, etc. The Major risk is that if it is not injected correctly it may go into the artery or the veins and the substances can travel to the lungs (embolism) and may lead to death (which seems to link directly to what happened to Miss Argentina).
As you can see fat grafting is perhaps the most desired way to augment the buttock. If the fat survives, it seems to be permanent but without the complications that other permanent products have. If you are interested in accentuating your shape, it is important that you use discretion. You should not go to just any doctor who offers, and claims, to specialize in gluteal augmentation. Before you decide that this procedure is right for you, please keep these three things in mind: the plastic surgeon you choose for this procedure should be board certified with the proper training, pricing should never be the first factor to consider because there are various financing programs, and the procedure should only be performed in an accredited surgical setting versus a medical spa.
I am proud to promote safety first! And I hope you found this helpful.
Constantino G. Mendieta MD FACS FICS
Board Certified Plastic Surgeon
Member of The American Society of Plastic Surgeons &
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery
2310 S. Dixie Hwy
Miami, FL 33133