I’ve been reading recently in the news that U.S. hospitals are treating some patients with serious health complications, not excluding death, after they attend silicone injection parties, otherwise known as “pumping parties.”

These parties often involve fake doctors or some other unqualified person injecting industrial grade silicone (the kind you buy at Home Depot) into butts, lips and faces to achieve a more youthful appearance.  I’m scratching my head as to how this occurs, because silicone injections went out of favor in the U.S. the 1960s and are banned by the FDA except to treat one rare medical condition.

That people would risk their lives for something that is so obviously a bad idea and that greedy snake oil salesmen would put lives at risk for a quick buck never ceases to confound me.

After reading these stories, you might be confused about the difference between silicone injections and other fillers used for the face.  And you’re concerned about silicone gel breast implants?  Here are the facts about the differences between dangerous silicone injections and legit cosmetic procedures.

Silicone Injections-  History

Silicone injections were done in the past, because it looks and feels incredibly natural.  However, problems developed pretty quickly, since the body forms a lot of scar tissue around the free silicone.

With larger amounts of silicone injection, you may end up with migration and larger amounts of scar tissue.  Migration simply means that the silicone moves from the original point of injection, such as when the silicone slides down the legs after being injected into the butt.  Both are difficult to deal with medically and often require surgery to remove and stop the continued movement and scar tissue formation.

One of the more famous celebrities in San Francisco who had silicone injections to her breasts is Cora Doda, written about in the book “The Pump House Gang” by Thomas Wolf.  Apparently, she had silicone injections in her breasts and used them to her advantage.  (P.S. –  I was not born when she was performing, so I can’t comment on the actual appearance of her breasts!)

Silicone Injections –  Only One FDA Approved Use

The only FDA-approved use for silicone injection is for a rare type of eye disorder.  As you can imagine, this type of silicone is highly purified and substantially regulated.

When you hear about silicone injections in the news, the silicone used is probably NOT of medical grade, but rather, industrial grade.  Also, I can’t imagine a real physician using silicone to augment or enhance an area because of the known risks for decades about silicone injections.

Dermal fillers to smooth wrinkles in the face are not silicone.  They are usually made of naturally occurring substances such as hyaluronic acid or collagen and are FDA approved for facial injections.

Silcone Gel Breast Implants are SAFE

Silicone gel breast implants are different from the silicone injections in many ways.  One major difference is that the silicone gel in breast implants is cohesive, or self-sticking.  Think of a breast implant as a Gummi Bear.  When you cut a Gummi Bear in half, it doesn’t ooze any Gummi stuff.  It’s cohesive, just like a breast implant.    The silicone being injected at parties is a sticky, oozy, goozy mess.

The silicone gel breast implant also has an envelope-  a shell that keeps the silicone gel intact.  When plastic surgeons do a breast reconstruction or breast augmentation procedure, we’re using a breast implant, and not injecting silicone, to re-create the breast or augment it.

But the biggest and most important difference is that silicone gel breast implants were FDA approved in November 2006.  They are used widely in breast reconstruction and for cosmetic breast purposes in the U.S. and throughout the world.  They are the most studied medical device in history and have been deemed safe by the FDA.

Why Silicone  Injections are Making a Comeback

Simply put, I don’t know why silicone injections are making a comeback.  They are such a colossally bad idea.

My only thought is that some people may be desperate to change their appearance (they likely have some form of body dismorphic disorder and should be receiving treatment for this and not getting silicone injections), and they are in a state of suspended disbelief about the risks due to the low cost.  Essentially, if something is too good to be true, it probably is.

It’s not possible to go to a non-clinic or non-operating room setting, get some fairly cheap injections from someone who is not a doctor, and not have possible consequences.

It’s probably more rational, as a consumer, to show up at a medical office or operating room, with a plastic surgeon that has a visible practice, visible medical license, and have a small procedure with a FDA-approved product.  FDA-approved injectables for the face include Juvederm, Restylane and Artefill, among others.  FDA-approved implants are made by Allergan and Mentor in the United States.

And yeah, these procedures will cost more than silicone at a pumping party.  But they won’t cost you your life.


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