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2 Investigators: Cosmetic Butt Injections? Proceed With Caution

CHICAGO (CBS) -- More than a dozen deaths have been reported across the country of women undergoing cosmetic injections to have a more curvaceous figure.

Now, CBS 2 investigator Pam Zekman looks at why a seemingly simple cosmetic procedure known as butt injections can go so wrong.

It happens when unqualified people, under non-sterile conditions use unapproved fillers to inject into the buttocks of patients.

The patients are in search of a curvy figure like many celebrities display on the red carpet these days.

That's what one woman who asked us to conceal her identity told us.

"I've always wanted a bigger backside," she said.

But, many women, like the one we talked to, cannot afford for the work to be done by a plastic surgeon in a surgical setting.

"Those who can't ... are going to be seeking black market injections," she added.

She did, traveling a Texas facility where she was injected by two people who are now charged with killing another patient named Wykesha Reid.

Reid died from a silicone embolism. When the patient we talked to heard about Reid's death she says she was stunned.

"I was just really terrified you know, and I have been terrified ever since," she said.

This year there have been three other deaths of patients injected with silicone.

"It can leak, spread, It can go into blood vessels," said Chicago plastic surgeon, Dr. Julius Few.

Dr. Few has treated several patients injured by black market procedures.

"The silicone can go to the heart and it can kill somebody instantly," Dr. Few said. "Even worse, it goes to the lungs which is called a pulmonary embolism and they literally suffocate."

Now, the patient we talked to says she has pain in her legs from silicone that has migrated down her leg.

She's been told by a doctor she consulted that she could "have chronic pain for the rest of my life."

Dr. Few said there's also a danger of a disfiguring scar tissue buildup and a danger from non-sterile conditions. One patient suffered from flesh-eating bacteria that attacked her back and her buttocks.

"I had to cut out these areas and do reconstructive surgery put her back together again," Dr. Few said.

Dr. Tansar Mir, of the Lennox Hill Hospital in New York City, also does surgeries to try to remove silicone.

Sophelay Ouk was one of his patients.

She had nearly a half-gallon of silicone injected in her buttocks that showed up on an MRI.

That finally explained why she had been hospitalized nearly 50 times for pneumonia.

"Breathing was just very hard," Ouk said.

"With this material the body attacks it so the white cells in the immune system get focused in the buttocks which prevents it from going to other places to fight infections," Dr. Mir said.

Dr. Mir removed as much of the silicone as he could to relieve the pressure on her immune system. Ouk is doing much better now, but still needs reconstructive surgery.

"If you're going to get plastic surgery do it the right way. Pay the money to do it. Don't look for an easy way out," Ouk said.

Plastic surgeons we talked to say the only approved material for injections like this are fat taken from your body or encased silicone implants.

Incredibly there have been some black market cases reported in which the patients were injected with fix a flat and the injections sites were closed with crazy glue.

You should find out the qualifications of the people doing the work. Plastic surgeons we consulted say they should be board certified plastic surgeons You can find board certified doctors by checking these websites:

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
The American Board of Plastic Surgery.

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