I Got Black-Market Butt Injections — & I'm Really Scared

The following story was told to Refinery29. Due to the sensitive and private nature of this topic, some names and identifying cities have been changed.

When I made the decision to get a butt augmentation, I was in a phase of life in which I felt very confused. I think I was 20, and I knew I wanted to change myself. I was becoming comfortable with being gay but, all of a sudden, I felt all this pressure about my appearance. Growing up, I never cared about what I looked like because I was pretending to be straight, so it didn’t bother me that I didn’t get girls. But when I came out of the closet, everything snowballed.
The (Instant) Decision
To understand my story, you need to know about Debra. She's more than my adopted mom — I parented her more than she parented me. Sure, she provided food, shelter, things like that, but other than that we were like best friends along for the ride.

I’ll never forget when I saw Debra the first time after she got it done. I was doing a trunk show for her jewelry line at her country club, and she walks in with this giant ass — she walks in looking like fucking J.Lo! She pulled me aside and whispered, "Oh my gawd, the doctors are from Colombia and they only charged me $6,000 to do my butt!"

She also claimed the doctor had some very famous celebrity clients. I don't know if that was true, but Debra turned around and her ass was huge and amazing, and I was so jealous. I wanted it bad, even though I had never done anything to myself. So she said, "Okay fiiine, let’s go." You have to know: This was in the heat of the J.Lo butt phenomenon, and this was not Debra's first, or last, procedure.

So we drove across town to this wellness medi-spa owned by Debra’s friend Maggie. And there, in the back room, was this doctor named Patricia who was injecting all of these rich-ass women, and one gay boy, with this substance.

[She] turned around and her ass was huge and amazing, and I was so jealous.

How It Went Down
Debra dropped me off and went to the mall. I walked into the back room and it was the doctor, her nurse, and her daughter — who I think was an apprentice or something. They asked me to pull my pants down, and they sat there talking in Spanish about my ass. I understood a few words here and there.

I’ve always had a "pear bottom," meaning it’s full, but just kind of hung there. I told them what I wanted — for the top area to be filled out and perfectly round, like an apple bottom — and they decided on the injection area.
I actually loved the doctor; she was so sweet. I’m not sure if what they used on me was FDA-approved, but they made sure I knew it was permanent. They told me that it was like Sculptra, but permanent Sculptra. I can't believe I was so naive.
The substance wasn’t a solid; it’s not like they cut my ass cheek open and inserted an implant. It was a thick gel that, I think, hardens after it’s injected. They used a syringe with the widest gauge I'd ever seen. They picked the spot at the top of my butt and laid me down on a typical medical table with the paper and everything. I was awake during the entire thing; I think they numbed the skin, but I can’t really remember.

I thought the needle was going to be the painful part, but oh no, oh fucking no, "hurt" is not the word for what I felt once they started injecting this substance into me. It felt like someone was pulling a tendon under my ass, like they were shredding my butt muscles. It hurt so bad, I started uncontrollably screaming and crying. I don’t remember this, but they said I was calling out for my mom. Not Debra — I was calling out for my biological mom.

'Hurt' is not the word for what I felt once they started injecting this substance into me.

The needle was probably in there for 10 minutes, but I don’t really remember. The vial was about an inch in diameter and about four inches long, and they had to do four of those. After they finished one, they would unscrew it and pop in another one.
I almost didn’t do the second cheek. I told them there was "no way in hell," and that it was the worst experience of my life. But I thought, If I am going to go through this much pain, I might as well get it done. I didn't really have a choice; I couldn't just do one cheek at that point. I realize now that I probably should have been put out.

I blacked out during the second cheek; I don’t remember anything. When I came to, they placed cotton balls over the injection area, bandaged me up, and sent me on my merry way.
Post-Op Life
For a while, my butt was numb and I was really sore for weeks. They told me not to expose the area to really high heat for a while, not to turn on my heated seats in my car, or go to a tanning bed. Even though I can feel the stuff inside, you can't feel it by touching my butt; it's like it was injected under the muscle.

The first time I saw a picture of myself after the surgery, I remember thinking, Yesss! My ass, at the very least, looked perfect and I did get what I wanted; I have an apple bottom, and I have to wear pants two sizes bigger.

I’m 31 years old now and I got it when I was 20, so in 11 years it hasn’t gotten smaller, and trust me, there were so many times in my life when I wished it would dwindle, but it never did.
The Rumor Mill
The worst thing those first few years, besides the pain and numbness, was that I told people. I was a small-town boy and my first job in a big city was with a bunch of gossip-y fashion girls. I thought I could trust them the way I trusted my friends back home, but all of a sudden everyone knew.
It was hard — I was being ridiculed, rumors were flying. All of a sudden I was like, Holy shit, I can never let anyone know about this, and I have to deny it for the rest of my life. At this point, most of the people in my life don't know, even those that I am closest with. I've denied it for so long — how can I tell people I lied to them?

The truth of the matter is I have no fucking idea what is inside my body...it's terrifying.

The Aftermath
Everything was great for years, but then my body started to change. As I got older, I gained weight and the fat on my butt sort of formed around the filled area so that there is a divot the size of a palm on one of my cheeks. Now I don't want anyone to see my butt when I'm naked, because it’s misshapen and it kind of dips in weird places. I’m scared because I'm in my early 30s and I’ve already seen examples of how fat is going to affect my butt. I have no idea what it’s going to look like when I’m older.
Other changes have happened, too. Sometimes, if I sit for too long, like if I am driving or flying, my butt goes numb, and not a normal numb — it’s a weird numbness that I never had before I got it done. I have to constantly shift my weight from side to side.

I was worried about the material making me sick in the beginning, and then I figured I was in the clear, but now I’ve heard things that make me think I could still be in danger. The reality is that I’m really scared and there aren’t many people I can talk to about it, because I lied about it for so long. What am I going to tell people if I have to have it removed? I mean, I don’t even know if they can remove it.

The truth of the matter is I have no fucking idea what is inside my body...it’s terrifying. I know that when I expose it to tanning lamps, my butt turns bright red where it’s filled out, like the gel is heating up and warming the skin from the inside or something.

I know that I’m really lucky. Thank God I didn’t get injected with cement. Have you heard those stories? Like real cement; I could have been that person. But I was still so naive, and I had no idea how big that decision was back then. Now, I'm finally ready to see a doctor to get it checked out... I'm just really, really scared.
Editor's note: We shared the above account with Norman Rowe, MD, board-certified plastic surgeon at Rowe Plastic Surgery in New York City, and he believes that the subject was likely injected with silicone, which is not FDA-approved and can result in disfigurement and even death. He notes that the doctor, the assistant, the method of injection, and the treatment were all very unprofessional. He would consider this a "black market" procedure and urges that anyone considering buttock augmentation go to a board-certified plastic surgeon for a consultation. If you think you might have experienced a similar situation to our subject, Dr. Rowe advises seeing an accredited, board-certified plastic surgeon to review treatment options as soon as possible.

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