Summary: As long as there’s been commerce, there have been scams. It’s a lot easier, sometimes, to get people to pay for nothing than to provide them with a good or a service. The vast majority of business is honorable, of course, but these scams persist. Plastic surgery is not immune from these scams, but this latest round making the news is particularly despicable. It seems that some people on the black market are offering “silicone injections,” promising bigger lips, breasts, butts, and whatever else. But this silicone is not the same as the silicone that is used in breast implants. This silicone is actually quite deadly. From Los Angeles to New Jersey board certified plastic surgeons are the key to safe surgery.

From LA to New Jersey board certified plastic surgeons make all the difference

The Difference Between Silicone and Silicone

Not all silicones are created equal. There’s the silicone—incredibly safe—out of which breast implants are manufactured. And then there’s the silicone you use to caulk your bathtub. Despite having a similar name, these are incredibly different substances—I would even go so far as to say that they are vastly different. In much the same way that Botox and botulinum toxin carry a common name but are different substances. One is perfectly safe in cosmetic surgery settings, and the other is lethal. And while you would likely never let someone inject you with botulism, it seems that some people have succumbed to temptation when it comes to black market silicone injections.

Let’s say right off the bat that these injections are incredibly dangerous. A black market silicone injection is a potentially life-threatening idea, and those who have made such injections have been charged with murder in cases where the patient has died due to complications. These injections are not in any way a safe, wise, or sanctioned procedure to pursue. So, why, then, do patients (I’m using that term broadly, as it implies a certain respectability for the practitioner that is not deserved in this case) seek out such procedures? Unfortunately, there are two main reasons. The first is the price.

The Wrong Silicone Can Kill

These black market silicone injections offer permanent, aesthetic plastic surgery quality results for something like $600.00, according to some news sources. And while $600.00 might sound like a lot of money to some people, it’s significantly less expensive than aesthetic plastic surgery. Of course, you get what you pay for. Aesthetic plastic surgery is, indeed, much more expensive, but it’s also much, much safer and doesn’t, you know, inject your body with toxins and poisons. In the end, your $600.00 buys you a trip to the emergency room, which ends up being even more expensive. Aesthetic plastic surgery (or any type of medicine, for that matter) is not something that should be left to non-professionals.

And there’s the second part of the problem, I think. People assume, somewhat reasonably, that silicone is silicone, and that if it wasn’t safe, companies would not use it in breast implants. So it must be safe enough to inject in the body. And, of course, this is wholly wrong. The silicone used in these “injections” is the same silicone you would use to caulk your tub. Think about that for a second. When you caulk your tub, you’re providing a barrier against moisture—to keep moisture out of the cracks, and so on. Now, your body is mostly water, so putting something in your body that is designed not to be water soluble is unquestionably a bad idea.

The Importance of a Highly Qualified Plastic Surgeon

Now, before we get too down on those people who have fallen for this scam (they deserve our compassion, not our ire—we can all fall for scams), we should take some time and discuss what you should look for in a qualified plastic surgeon. Because those offering silicone injections are not the only ones who are preying on people. There are all kinds of black market procedures available out there, from Botox to dermal fillers, to surgery, to these silicone implants. Sometimes, these procedures are performed by a physician who the patient does not know has been stripped of his or her license.

So there are a couple of things you want to do. When it comes to aesthetic plastic surgery, you want to make sure that your surgeon is board certified. This is fairly easy to do—you can check with the board of plastic surgeons to ensure this. And, of course, plastic surgeons are not allowed to display logos or claim they are board certified if they are not. Board certification only comes with years of training and practice, so while it’s not a guarantee that you will have a good experience, it is some assurance that the surgeon is competently trained.

Check on Your Plastic Surgeon to be Sure

The other thing you’ll want to do is talk to the surgeon and talk to some former patients (or at least search for reviews). The plastic surgery social media website Real Self does an excellent job of reviewing surgeons (actual patient reviews as well), and you can also check website such as Yelp and HealthGrades. All of this won’t guarantee, again, that you have an excellent outcomes, but it can help to assure you of the competency of the surgeon. And, of course, if you have any bad feelings about the surgeon or the procedure—don’t go through with it.

Plastic surgery is, after all, supposed to be about renewal , rejuvenation, and transformation. It’s supposed to be a positive experience. Unfortunately, some people also think they can make a quick buck due to the suffering of others. Protect yourself from such predators, keep in mind you get what you pay for, and seek out a board certified plastic surgeon for your next procedure. It’ll be a decision you won’t regret.