PHILADELPHIA -- Two women from the United Kingdom flew into Philadelphia on Saturday looking to improve their physiques with buttocks-enhancement injections.
Only one survived.
The other died at a suburban Philadelphia hospital Monday, and Philadelphia homicide detectives are now seeking two women who provided the syringes and unknown drugs in a hotel room near the airport.
Their clients were part of a group of four women, all in their 20s, who arrived Saturday. The two who did not receive injections were on their way to a party in New York City, said Detective Lt. John Walker.
Late Tuesday, police confirmed that the dead woman was named Claudia Adusei, 20. British news reports said she was from London. Police said that the other woman told them the women thought they were being injected with silicone. The autopsy will show whether the substance was in fact silicone, police said.
Buttocks-enhancement injections, often involving silicone gel or liquid, are illegal but widely available. Dozens of women have reported injuries, according to federal health agencies, including infections, kidney impairment, and, in rare instances, death.
Walker said the victim checked into a Hampton Inn and sometime over the weekend received the injections. She was taken to Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital at 1:30 a.m. Monday after complaining of chest pains and experiencing shortness of breath.
She died later that day. Fredric Hellman, Delaware County medical examiner, said a preliminary cause of death will not be released until the victim's relatives are notified. The second woman, who received injections to her buttocks and hips, has not been hospitalized, police said.
Legitimate buttocks enhancements using silicone implants are relatively rare -- about 5,000 were done throughout the nation last year. There is a large illegal underground market for the sale and injection of silicone even though it has been decades since any product has been approved by regulators for reshaping a body part.
"Silicone injections used to be done years ago to make breasts bigger ... but that has not been done, legitimately, for 40 or 50 years," said R. Barrett Noone, a Philadelphia area plastic surgeon who serves as executive director of the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
The FDA, on its website, says the agency has "prohibited the injection of liquid silicone or silicone gel to fill wrinkles or augment tissues anywhere in the body." It has been blamed for autoimmune disease and physical disfigurements.
Collagen injections, using a substance made from protein, have been approved by the FDA to fill small imperfections, typically in facial areas. Some clinics in the United Kingdom offer buttocks and breast injections with a different processed protein, but the cost is about $4,500.
Last month, federal agents in New York City charged a woman with illegal distribution of silicone imported from the Dominican Republic. She was accused of administering illegal injections of liquid silicone for cosmetic purposes as part of a business run out of her Bronx home, allegedly charging up to $1,000 for a round of shots.
Last year, Essex County, N.J., prosecutors brought criminal charges against a professional model who allegedly offered women a series of injections to enlarge their buttocks. Six of her customers later sought medical treatment at local hospitals, said Katherine Carter, a spokeswoman for the county prosecutor. "They all had serious bacterial infections that required them to get surgery," Carter said.
They paid $600 to $1,000, allegedly to Anivia Cruz-Dilworth, 28, of New Brunswick, N.J., who was indicted for delivering illegal injections of a substance called "Hydrogel."
More famously, a former Miss Argentina, Solange Magnano, died after a buttocks-enhancement procedure at a medical clinic in Buenos Aires. She spent three days in critical condition after suffering from a pulmonary embolism. The Associated Press reported that sources described her procedure as a "gluteoplasty," which usually involves implants. But a friend said Magnano also received injections.
Noone said implants were one of two legitimate techniques used to enlarge buttocks. The second uses fat tissue removed from one part of the body and then injected into the rear. "It's not really mainstream plastic surgery," he said of the two procedures. Noone said fat injections are more typically used for surgical reconstruction after illness or accident, such as for mastectomy patients.
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