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New York Case Shows Dangers of Cosmetic Silicone Injections

The quest to measure up to society’s beauty ideals through cosmetic surgery can pose grave risks when the surgery is not done right. Improperly planned or performed surgery can lead to disfigurement and even death. Even more shocking, recently it has been discovered that unlicensed providers inject people with silicone and other illicit substances, including paraffin, petroleum jelly and hydrogel.

Even a licensed provider can commit surgical errors if the operation was not properly planned and carried out. Many people know that medical malpractice law exists to compensate people harmed through those errors. But what if someone was injured or killed by a backstreet provider using black market or otherwise inappropriate materials – such as industrial silicone from Home Depot?

Death of New York Woman from Injections

Such cases are, alas, far too frequent, as the death of Fiordaliza Pichardo exemplifies. Ms. Pichardo, a 43-year-old woman from the Dominican Republic who lived in New York City, died in March 2010 after receiving liquid silicone injections. She was only seeking to add more shape to her buttocks, but ended up dead.

It isn’t only young women trying to make themselves more beautiful who are victims of such unconscionable cosmetic injections. In New York and other urban centers, members of the male-to-female transgender community are also at risk. This often happens at “pump-up parties,” when they use injections in an attempt to feminize their appearance – but can face kidney failure, blood clots, auto-immune problems, skin ulceration, infections and other serious complications.

No federal agency keeps track the number of complications from illicit silicone injections. But deaths like Fiordaliza Pichardo’s keep adding up. Emergency rooms in New York and New Jersey have reported numerous cases requiring treatment. So far, the most high-profile victim has been a former Miss Argentina, Solange Magnano, who died in Buenos Aires after receiving buttock implants and injections.

Legality of Silicone Injections

With only one exception, liquid silicone injections have not been legal since 1992. The exception approved by the Food and Drug Administration is for a silicone-based product used to treat a retinal disorder that is related to AIDS. The FDA has approved certain forms of silicone for cosmetic use, but not for tissue augmentation through the injection of silicone filler into the body.

Unfortunately, the lack of regulatory approval does not stop the providers of risky injections from obtaining liquid silicone and marketing their wares to the unwary – with tragic results.

The Internet can make it much easier to obtain the silicone. For unlicensed providers, there is also the temptation to use industrial-strength silicone from places like Home Depot. “If you think about the silicone at Home Depot, said Steven M. Marcus, medical director of the New Jersey Poison Information and Education System, “it’s not intended to be injected into someone.”

Warning About the Dangers of Cosmetic Surgery

Federal and state health authorities are not the only ones trying to raise awareness of the risks of cosmetic surgery in general and silicone injections in particular. For example, the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery is also committed to warning people of the dangers of getting liquid silicone injections from unlicensed people who often masquerade as professionals.

If you have been harmed by cosmetic surgery, or someone in your family has died from a surgery that went totally wrong, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer in your area. An attorney can explain what your legal options are for seeking appropriate compensation.