The Hidden Dangers of Silicone Injections: A Plastic Surgeon's Perspective

By: Dr. J. Timothy Katzen



For a long time, cosmetic enhancements have captured the attention of individuals seeking quick and easy ways to improve their physical appearance. One such method that has been widely discussed and utilized with a certain degree of popularity is silicone injections. As an enticing, seemingly simple solution for aesthetic improvement, it has drawn many into its orbit. However, I am a plastic surgeon dedicated to patient safety and best practice. Therefore, I strongly need to pull back the curtain on this dangerous procedure and reveal the potential harm and long-term health complications it can induce. Over the years, I've witnessed numerous patients suffering the adverse effects of silicone injections, making this issue a personal concern. This blog post attempts to inform and educate readers about the dark side of silicone injections in hopes that it will prevent future health crises.

What are Silicone Injections?

In cosmetic enhancements, silicone injections are often presented as a quick and easy method for augmenting various body parts. These injections involve the administration of liquid silicone, a synthetic substance, into areas such as the buttocks, breasts, or facial features to increase their size or enhance their shape. The appeal of this approach lies in its promise of 'instant results,' which can be alluring to many. However, what needs to be communicated more effectively to prospective patients is that these injections are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for body contouring. This means silicone injections for aesthetic purposes fall into a grey area that is not officially regulated. As a result, it's an off-label usage fraught with potential dangers. The severity of health risks associated with these injections is too substantial to be ignored. In this blog post, we'll delve into the specifics of these risks and the consequences of this highly precarious practice.

Hazards and Complications of Silicone Injections

While silicone injections may be a quick solution for cosmetic enhancement, they carry a host of potential complications that can lead to serious health issues. A significant concern associated with these injections is their tendency to migrate. The liquid silicone, once injected, can move from the original site to other parts of the body, leading to disfigurement, granulomas (lumps formed by an inflammatory reaction), and systemic health issues.

Furthermore, the body can react to the foreign substance unpredictably, potentially causing chronic inflammation, pain, and infection. More specifically, there's a risk of necrosis, where the affected tissue dies, leading to severe pain, skin changes, and sometimes, the need for surgical intervention.

One of the most concerning risks associated with silicone injections is the potential for silicone embolism syndrome, a potentially fatal condition that can occur immediately after the injection procedure. This syndrome is characterized by symptoms like coughing up blood, chest pain, and shortness of breath, and in severe cases, it can lead to respiratory failure, heart failure, or stroke.

Studies have also highlighted the risks of long-term complications such as persistent pain, disfigurement, and functional impairment. Unfortunately, these complications are not just restricted to illicit or unauthorized practitioners; they can occur even when administered by licensed practitioners due to the inherent risks of the procedure. It is essential to remember that once injected, silicone is usually permanent and difficult, sometimes impossible, to remove altogether. This leads us to the subsequent aspect of silicone injections: removal and its associated challenges.

Diseases Associated with Silicone Injections

Beyond the immediate risks and complications, silicone injections can lead to long-term health issues and diseases. In addition, there is growing evidence to suggest a potential link between silicone and autoimmune disorders. Patients with silicone injections have reported a range of symptoms, including fatigue, cognitive dysfunction, myalgias, arthralgia, and other systemic symptoms, often grouped as "silicone implant illness" or "autoimmune/inflammatory syndrome induced by adjuvants" (ASIA).

In particular, cases of systemic sclerosis, a rare chronic connective tissue disease characterized by hardening and tightening of the skin and connective tissues, have been reported in patients with silicone injections1. Similarly, silicone has also been implicated in other rheumatic diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus and Sjögren's syndrome.

There is also the issue of siliconomas, which are nodules or lumps that form due to silicone injections. Siliconomas can occur anywhere in the body where silicone has been injected and can cause symptoms such as pain, infection, and changes in the skin's appearance.

Finally, silicone injections may increase the risk of certain types of cancer, including anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL). Though this has been primarily associated with textured breast implants, some reports have also suggested a potential risk from silicone injections.

To be clear, the risks associated with silicone injections are not negligible, and the diseases that may result are severe and life-altering. This understanding underscores the importance of thoroughly researching any procedure before making a decision and always working with a trusted and qualified professional. In the next section, we'll discuss the process and challenges of removing silicone injections and the role experienced plastic surgeons like myself play in this complex procedure.

The Challenge of Removing Silicone Injections

For those facing the adverse effects of silicone injections, you are not alone; help is available. Yet, it's essential to acknowledge that silicone removal can be complicated and challenging, demanding expertise and experience from your chosen medical professional.

First, it's essential to recognize that silicone, once injected, embeds itself in the tissues and becomes challenging to remove entirely. When I meet with patients in this situation, I compare the process to removing millions of tiny silicone droplets from a sponge – a daunting task. This comparison highlights why it's so crucial to understand the risks before undergoing any procedure involving silicone injections.

Sometimes, the silicone binds with the body's tissues, forming granulomas or siliconomas that must be carefully removed to prevent further tissue damage. Unfortunately, this process often requires delicate surgical procedures, which, despite a surgeon's best efforts, may not guarantee complete silicone removal. Also, the removal procedure can lead to other complications, including infection, scar tissue, and even a change in the treated area's appearance.

Moreover, even after the surgical removal of silicone, some patients might experience persistent symptoms due to the body's immune reaction to the remnants. These realities aren't stated to discourage you but to emphasize the importance of being well-informed about these procedures. And to reiterate the importance of making such life-altering decisions only under the guidance of a experienced plastic surgeon.

My Experience and Approach as a Plastic Surgeon

As a plastic surgeon specializing in revision procedures and removing silicone injections, I believe in bringing a compassionate and empathetic approach to this challenging situation. I've witnessed first-hand the pain and distress these procedures can cause. I'm committed to doing everything I can to help my patients navigate this journey toward recovery and renewed self-confidence.

Throughout my career, I've worked with patients from different walks of life, each with their unique experiences and stories. One thing I've learned from these interactions is the power of resilience – it's remarkable how, even in adversity, the human spirit can find strength and courage.

Working closely with my patients, we discuss the potential risks, complications, and realistic expectations of silicone removal procedures. My team and I aim to provide personalized care, addressing each patient's unique concerns and needs while keeping their safety and well-being as our utmost priority. It's a journey that requires mutual trust and understanding – and we're here to walk that path with you every step of the way.

While silicone injections might seem like a quick fix, they come with considerable risks, complications, and long-term health effects. Therefore, making informed decisions about any cosmetic procedure is essential, understanding the potential risks, benefits, and alternatives. Then, with the proper knowledge and guidance from experienced professionals, you can make choices that truly serve your well-being and aesthetic goals.

Celebrities and "Butt Shots"

In recent years, several celebrities have come forward to share their personal experiences and health struggles related to silicone injections. These stories have been instrumental in raising awareness about the dangers associated with these procedures. For example, actress and model April Brown had silicone injections in her buttocks, which led to a near-fatal infection and resulted in her losing both of her legs and arms. Similarly, reality TV star Lateysha Grace has spoken candidly about the painful side effects she endured following silicone injections to enhance her buttocks. As a result, she underwent a complex procedure to remove the silicone and treat the damage caused by these injections.

Cardi B, the Grammy-winning artist, openly admitted she had silicone injections in her buttocks in a basement in Queens, NY, which caused her significant health issues and discomfort. In addition, the procedure was performed illegally and resulted in a severe infection. Sadly, the woman who performed the injection was later arrested following the death of another patient.

These high-profile cases underscore the risks associated with silicone injections and highlight the importance of considering safer, FDA-approved alternatives. Moreover, they emphasize the significance of choosing a plastic surgeon for any cosmetic procedure who is well-trained to guide you through the safest and most effective options tailored to your unique needs.


Silicone injections, particularly those used for augmenting the buttocks, often go by various colloquial terms. For example, you might have heard these procedures referred to as "ass shots," "butt shots," "butt fillers," or "butt injections." Unfortunately, these names' informal and seemingly harmless nature can mask the severe health risks associated with these procedures. In the black market, these injections are often offered by unlicensed practitioners who might also refer to them as "silicon," "liquid silicone," or "free silicone."

It's crucial to understand that regardless of the name, these procedures are generally the same, and they involve injecting silicone directly into the body tissues. The substance used in these injections is often non-medical grade silicone, akin to what might be used in a home improvement store for caulking, far from the sterile environment and medical-grade products used in a professional medical setting.

These procedures are not FDA-approved and can lead to significant health problems, including silicone migration, infections, granulomas, disfigurement, and in severe cases, death. Remember, if the procedure sounds too easy or the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Always consult with a plastic surgeon before undergoing any cosmetic procedure.

Safer Alternatives to Silicone Injections

In your journey towards achieving your desired body image, it is crucial to remember that there are safer, FDA-approved alternatives to silicone injections. These alternatives minimize potential health risks and offer more predictable and often superior results.

For instance, procedures like autologous fat transfer or "fat grafting" use your body fat to enhance certain areas, eliminating the risk of foreign substance rejection. Likewise, hyaluronic acid-based dermal fillers, which are biocompatible and biodegradable, are FDA-approved for facial rejuvenation. In the realm of breast augmentation, saline, and silicone gel implants remain the standard of care due to their safety profile and extensive clinical research backing.

Safety Over “Beauty”

Ultimately, pursuing beauty should never come at the cost of your health. While silicone injections may offer a quick fix, the potentially life-altering complications that can arise should not be overlooked. Therefore, it's essential to prioritize safety and regulation over convenience or cost in cosmetic procedures.

I cannot stress enough the importance of consulting with a plastic surgeon or cosmetic professional who adheres to the highest patient safety and care standards. As patients, being informed and aware is the first step in ensuring our safety.

What to Do Now

If you're considering a cosmetic procedure or facing complications from silicone injections, I'm here to help. I invite you to get in touch for a consultation to discuss your concerns, explore safe and effective alternatives, and develop a personalized treatment plan designed around your unique needs and goals.

Choosing a plastic surgeon, mainly when dealing with complex procedures like silicone removal, cannot be overstated. A plastic surgeon has completed rigorous training, undergone extensive examinations, and committed to ongoing professional development in the ever-evolving field of plastic surgery. This level of dedication and expertise is reflected in the high standard of patient care they provide.

When it comes to silicone removal, the necessity for this level of expertise is even more critical. Silicone removal is a delicate and intricate procedure, often necessitating advanced techniques to safely and effectively remove the material without causing additional harm to the patient's body. However, surgeons with experience in silicone removal are familiar with the complications and challenges associated with the procedure, allowing them to navigate these potential obstacles with proficiency and caution.

Furthermore, experienced plastic surgeons can offer valuable guidance on safer, FDA-approved alternatives to silicone injections. In addition, they are well-versed in a range of body contouring and enhancement procedures, giving them the knowledge to recommend the most appropriate and beneficial treatment options for their patients. In short, choosing a plastic surgeon with a track record in silicone removal is vital in ensuring patient safety, optimal outcomes, and overall satisfaction.

My team and I are committed to providing the highest standards of patient care and ensuring your safety at all times. Remember, you are not alone in this journey, and with the proper support and guidance, you can confidently make decisions that serve your well-being and aesthetic goals. I look forward to joining your journey toward self-enhancement and renewed confidence. If you are considering silicone injections removal, please contact Dr. Katzen at (310) 859-7770 TODAY. Consultations can be arranged in person or virtually through FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, or WhatsApp. If you want thicker, fuller eyebrow, call Dr. Katzen NOW.

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