Back in the News: Dangers of Illegal Plastic Surgery

A. Foley on 3 Oct 2012 at 9:00am



Illegal plastic surgery and its obvious risks made headlines again last week. Morris “Tracey Lynn” Garner - who dresses and lives as a  woman - was charged with depraved-heart murder in Mississippi. He allegedly injected a woman’s buttocks with so much of a silicone-like substance, which is not approved or recommended for butt injections, that she later died of complications. The number of illegal surgeries is hard to track because they so often go unreported, but many surgeons assert that underground and procedures are on the rise - presumably due to the number of revision patients they see as a result.

“You don’t even have words to speak about what a horrible thing it is when somebody who is trying to improve their appearance and self-confidence only ends up, not only potentially unhappy, but dead,” Dr. Malcolm Roth, president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, told ABC News. “We’re hearing more and more about deaths when non-physicians are doing injections, and patients just aren't informed.”

Investigator Lee McDivitt testified that the deceased patient, who reportedly payed $700 under the table, became ill within 30 minutes of leaving Garner's Jacksonville house where she received the injections, but decided to try to make it home to Georgia before seeking medical treatment.

Illegal surgeries range from such fatal silicone-like injections, to seemingly less risky underground procedures involving Restylane and Botox injections. Though not illegal, Dr. Roth has also seen patients in need of corrective surgery because they originally went to a doctor without the six to eight years of plastic surgery education required for certification. A general practitioner can decide to do facelifts, buy the equipment, take a weekend class and perform them in his office, Roth said.

Many people seek non-board-certified doctors due to the lower costs, but in cases where revisions are needed, patients often end up spending substantially more money and potential risks far outweigh a dollar amount. We've said it before and we'll say it again - plastic surgery is no place to bargain shop, and everyone considering anything, whether invasive or non-invasive, needs to do their homework.


What do you think are motivators for people to seek out these underground surgeries? What steps need to be taken to shut them down? We'd love to hear your thoughts and reaction to the story below.

photo credit: nmarques74 | deposit photos