American Society of Plastic Surgeons
For Medical Professionals

Cardi B's horrifying story serves as a reminder of the dangers of illegal buttock injections

"Cardi B, say it ain't so!" was my immediate reaction after reading GQ's excellent interview with the rising hip-hop star Belcalis Almanza, better known by her stage name Cardi B.

The article, written by Caity Weaver, tells an amazing story of non-stop hustle and determination. But one moment recounts a scary medical decision that could have ended it all before it started.

In the GQ story, Cardi B reveals that she had black market buttock injections and she details the horrifying story of what she went through on a quest to obtain better curves.

As a plastic surgeon, I have been fortunate enough to take care of thousands of patients who have undergone body contouring enhancements, and I have done thousands of fat transfer operations and filler injections to safely increase the contours of my patients.

I have also taken care of my share of patients who have sought body contouring improvements through other means such as injections of silicone and other adulterated substances from a shady underworld of illegal injectors.

I've seen enough of these patients that "Good Morning America" gave me an opportunity to share one patient's story as a warning to the world about the very real dangers of underworld injectors.

All of these patients had the same horrifying result: deformity, pain, scarring... and the need for more surgery.

Each one of them told me the same story. They heard a rumor or had a friend. It was so much cheaper than a plastic surgeon. The injector "sold" them on the idea of an easy consequence-free treatment.

They wanted better curves trusted the wrong people help them in their journey.

"Cardi claimed her ass from the universe in a basement apartment in Queens, where, for $800, a woman injected her buttocks with filler. "They don't numb your ass with anything," she says. "It was the craziest pain ever. I felt like I was gonna pass out. I felt a little dizzy. And it leaks for, like, five days."

Cardi B is not my patient but her postop description sounds medically terrifying – a non-sterile environment without appropriate equipment or staff being injected with who knows what (only physicians and mid-level providers can even legally prescribe things like filler or Botox), draining wounds with no follow-up because your provider is in jail for allegedly killing someone with the very same treatment you got. Not ideal.

These black market injections can come back to haunt patients years later almost like a time bomb. Patients can develop infections, ulcerations, pain and even cancer.

Protect yourself by insisting on the following when looking for any body contouring procedure:

  1. Only use board-certified plastic surgeons
  2. Talk to multiple providers, review their experience and have them discuss realistic outcomes, risks and benefits of the planned procedure
  3. Be sure that procedures are performed in accredited facilities with the necessary support staff and safety equipment

Cardi B seems incredibly lucky to have avoided very real and very serious complications (at least for now). Patients should always seek well-trained health professionals who will provide the best care for patients' curves.

Your life isn't worth anything less.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.


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