Dying to be beautiful in Venezuela (and elsewhere)


This morning, I came across this particularly sad story out of Caracas:

Adriana Carolina Hernández, 26, died in the Pérez Carreño hospital on Wednesday, where she was brought by her mother, as a result of a pulmonary embolism after having biopolymers injected into her buttocks at the Metropolitan Clinic.

Adriana Carolina was a journalist, graduated from the Catholic University of Santa Rosa, and worked as a commercial producer.

Norys García, her mother, explained that on Friday, April 26, around 2:00 p.m., her daughter told her that she was going to the dressmaker’s, and that she had given her 200 bolivars to take a taxi, because it was raining. Later, she returned home.

The next day, the young woman began to feel nausea. Early on Sunday morning, she still felt ill. She fainted, and her family brought her to Pérez Carreño where she lay in a coma for 11 days.

García said that the doctors at the hospital explained to her that when biopolymers are injected into the gluteus muscles, there is always the risk of striking an artery or vein, and when that happens, the biopolymers could migrate to the brain or to the lungs.

Before they brought her to the hospital, Hernández told her mother that they had injected her in an office in the Metropolitan Polyclinic.

The homicide division of the CICPC is investigating.

Translation mine.

Sadly, this is not the first time something like this has happened in Latin America. Everywhere from the Río Bravo on down, culonas (women with well-rounded buttocks) are considered the most desirable. And those who aren’t as shapely as they’d like to be, go to extreme measures to get the kind of derrière their North American sisters would be only too happy to get rid of. If exercise isn’t enough to boost their bottom lines, and they can’t afford (or don’t want) silicone or saline butt implants, they do the next best thing: glute injections.

In theory, the idea is simple: inject some filler (typically medical grade silicone gel) into the buttock, between the layers of the gluteus muscles, to plump them up and make the buns rounder. If the injected substance is something that won’t biodegrade, theoretically it should result in permanently enlarged buttocks that also stay “lifted”. Sometimes these injections go off without a hitch; when they fail, they tend to fail catastrophically, causing nasty infections, deformities which can require corrective surgery, or worse. An embolism can result from accidentally penetrating a blood vessel with the needle, or from leakage of the filler into the surrounding tissues, where it migrates into the bloodstream. From there, it’s just a short time before a glob of the filler gets lodged in the lung and/or brain, causing loss of consciousness, and often, death.

A few years ago, this procedure made headlines when a former Miss Argentina, Solange Magnano, died of these very complications. It shed a much needed spotlight on the dangers of butt injections with silicone, as did a growing number of reports of “pumping parties” where women (often, transgender) have an unlicenced practitioner inject them with silicone which is often NOT even medical grade, but industrial grade (which carries with it a higher risk of infection due to contaminants in the gel.)

Some of these women are lucky to get off with “only” horrific deformities. More often, they end up developing chronic health problems. Some die just like Solange Magnano…or Adriana Carolina Hernández. In Lupita Domínguez’s book, The Table Dancer’s Tale, which I translated (toot toot), there is one notorious quack known, aptly, as La Matabellas (the Beauty Killer), who went to prison for injecting several strippers with cooking oil, causing similar illnesses, deformities…and death.

But even legitimate cosmetic surgeries can go wrong, as this butt implant patient found out to her chagrin:

Venezuela is renowned for its beauty queens, and sadly, also for its obsession with “touch-up” surgeries. When ordinary women — not models, not pageant contestants — feel that their own looks are no longer “good enough”, and when cosmetic medical and surgical procedures become this commonplace, a lot of unworthwhile consequences result. And one of them is precisely this sort of senseless death.

Really, the best thing anyone can do with her butt is leave it alone.

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