FAQs: Hydrogel Removal from Buttocks and Body

By: Dr. J. Timothy Katzen


Many patients have undergone illegal hydrogel injections to enhance their buttocks and other body areas. Although fillers like hydrogel may initially appear to be an alternative to other plastic surgery procedures, such as implants and fat transfer, many patients experience severe complications.

If you have experienced complications from hydrogel or regret your decision to undergo illegal hydrogel injections, Dr. Katzen is currently scheduling initial consultations for hydrogel removal. Here, we will answer some of our most frequently asked questions about hydrogel and hydrogel injection removal.

What is Hydrogel?

Hydrogel is a solution made of 97.5% water and 2.5% polyacrylamide. Some forms of hydrogel may also include liquid silicone. It is a gel-like substance first developed in Ukraine in the early 1990s under the name, Interfall.

Similar to illegal silicone injections, some practitioners use hydrogel injections to enhance the buttocks and other body parts. However, practitioners who recommend hydrogel are usually not board certified plastic surgeons, doctors, or nurses.

Dr. Katzen does not inject hydrogel and does not endorse hydrogel injections into any body part. Hydrogel injections are not FDA-approved in the United States. Therefore, patients desiring hydrogel injections must seek treatment outside the U.S. Most hydrogel injectors are not medically trained and are injecting hydrogel in patients’ homes and hotel rooms.

How do You Get Rid of Hydrogel in Your Body?

If you have undergone illegal hydrogel injections in the buttock or other body areas, Dr. Katzen recommends removing your hydrogel before you develop symptoms. Dr. Katzen suggests you remove the hydrogel even if you are not experiencing complications.

Each patient requires a personalized hydrogel removal technique. Dr. Katzen will perform a physical at your initial consultation and discuss removal recommendations.

Ultrasound-Guided VASER-Assisted Silicone Suction (UVASS) may be performed in patients whose hydrogel injections have not migrated. However, direct excision may be required if a larger area, such as the buttocks, needs to be treated.

This video offers an excellent overview of the dangers of illegal hydrogel injections and hydrogel injection removal.

What are the Side Effects of Illegal Hydrogel Injections?

Many patients undergoing illegal hydrogel injections have experienced severe complications. Often, hydrogel injections migrate to other parts of the body.

For example, it is common for patients to complain of pain or soreness in the hips, legs, and groin area after undergoing hydrogel injections to the buttocks. Pain and swelling typically occurs because the body rejects the hydrogel and tries to bring the product to the surface.

Other complications can arise from illegal hydrogel injections, including:

  • Granuloma lumps
  • Infections
  • Body disfigurement
  • Excessive scar tissue
  • Thinning of the skin
  • Stroke
  • Skin pigmentation
  • Swelling
  • Difficulty walking

A Los Angeles NBC news station reported on a story about a 26-year-old woman who died in 2019 after undergoing a “back alley butt lift.” The practitioners were a mother and daughter team who would perform illegal buttock injections in individuals’ homes. These women were charged with murder and are awaiting jail time.

Illegal hydrogel injections can be fatal, as in this story. If a practitioner injects hydrogel into the blood vessels, it can travel to the heart and lungs, leading to death.

How Long do Hydrogel Injections Last?

Unfortunately, hydrogel injections are legal in other countries. Proponents of hydrogel in those countries claim that the procedure’s results are long-lasting. This claim is based on patient reports indicating their satisfaction up to five years later.

However, because hydrogel is known to migrate to other body areas, some individuals may undergo the injections several times to get the desired results.

Can You Get a BBL After Hydrogel Injections?

It is possible to get a BBL or buttock augmentation using your own transferred fat cells after undergoing hydrogel injections. However, Dr. Katzen will require removing the hydrogel injections first.

Once the hydrogel has been removed from the buttock and you have healed, Dr. Katzen will discuss options for FDA-approved buttock augmentation based on what will work best for you.

What is the Best Filler for the Buttocks?

Dr. Katzen recommends a Brazilian butt lift or buttock implants for patients desiring buttock enhancement. Another non-surgical alternative is Sculptra. Sculptra is an FDA-approved biocompatible filler formulated with poly-L-lactic acid.

Sculptra stimulates collagen production in the body and has proven effective as a non-surgical alternative to buttock enhancement. Seeing results from Sculptra injections may take three to six weeks, and usually requires 4-5 injections.

Is it Possible to Dissolve Hydrogel in the Body?

It is not possible to dissolve illegal hydrogel injections with antibiotics, steroids, or any other injectable medications. The only way to remove hydrogel is by undergoing hydrogel removal surgery.

Are Hyaluronic Acid and Hydrogel the Same?

Hydrogel is not the same as other products made from hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is a natural component in the body that helps the skin’s volume and structure.

Juvéderm is a dermal filler made with synthetic hyaluronic acid that is FDA-approved. Juvéderm increases your natural hyaluronic acid and collagen, which results in healthy, rejuvenated skin. Dr. Katzen recommends Juvéderm for patients desiring non-surgical injectable wrinkle and fine-line fillers for the face, not the buttocks or other body areas.

Should I Have My Hydrogel Injections Removed if I Do Not Have Any Complications?

Even if you are not currently experiencing complications from illegal hydrogel injections, Dr. Katzen recommends hydrogel removal.

Many patients have unknowingly undergone dangerous hydrogel injections without realizing the potential consequences. Dr. Katzen believes it is best to remove your hydrogel injections before they cause problems.

After your hydrogel removal, Dr. Katzen will recommend FDA-approved body augmentation and contouring procedures to help you get your desired results.

Schedule Your Hydrogel Removal Consultation Today

Currently, Dr. Katzen is scheduling initial consultations for patients interested in illegal hydrogel removal. He will discuss his surgery recommendations with you and help you understand what to expect regarding the procedure and your recovery.

In addition, if you are interested in pursuing plastic surgery to enhance your buttocks or other areas after hydrogel removal, Dr. Katzen will discuss your options.

Dr. Katzen offers in-person appointments at his Beverly Hills, CA, Las Vegas, NV, and Dubai UAE offices. He also meets with patients virtually via Zoom, WhatsApp, Skype, and FaceTime.

To schedule your hydrogel removal consultation, please call (310) 859-7770.

Before & After
Before & After
* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.