Why silicone butt injections can be fatal

Kelly Mayhew, a 34 year old woman from Maryland, died over the weekend after getting butt injections in a Queens basement. The procedure was performed by an unlicensed doctor who injected Mayhew with silicone injections. Shortly after, Mayhew began having difficulty breathing. She was rushed to St. John’s hospital, but died when she got there.

Mayhew is one of many women who have died from illegal butt implant procedures or other cosmetic procedures performed by doctors who claim to be licensed, but in reality are just unlicensed frauds. What is it about silicone injections that can be fatal?


Butt injections can either be made from your own fat which is taken from another part of your body, or, they can be made of foreign substances, like silicone. Foreign substances may also include free silicone, hydrogels, oils, and saline. Fat injections and silicone implants are offered throughout cosmetic surgery practices around the country. However, many fraudulent “doctors” are performing butt injections with something called free silicone.

Free silicone mean that the silicone is in liquid form, rather than packaged like an implant. It is simply the liquid inside the implant. Foreign substances like silicone, paraffin, petroleum jelly, and other non-human substances which have been known to be used in black market cosmetic procedures are not approved by the FDA for use in humans and therefore, is illegal.

When liquid silicone is injected freely into the body, it is much more dangerous than when a person gets implants where the silicone gel is confined within a shell. However, many women, and even men, are attracted to these so-called “black market” procedures because they happen to be much cheaper than implants. A legal butt enhancement procedure may cost up to $7,000, while unlicensed providers often charge thousands of dollars less, sometimes even a few hundred dollars. However, people who choose the cheaper route fail to take into account the significantly high risks associated with these types of illegal quick-fix procedures.

Free silicone injections come with numerous risks and complications such as pulmonary embolism, kidney failure or critical disruption of the kidney functions, inflammation or infection from possible impurities or poor quality silicone, appearance of abnormal nodules or bumps under the skin, nerve damage, bleeding, scarring and abscess in the butt, uneven butt augmentation or asymmetrical results where one cheek is higher or bigger than the other, chest pain, breathing problems, and in some cases, death.

Once the liquid silicone is injected freely into the body, it can migrate to other areas of the body. This is simply because the liquid is in free form and is not contained within any barriers, as with implants. With implants, the silicone is protected within the implant’s barrier to the rest of the body. The body’s immune system can also react negatively against a foreign material and reject it. This can cause many health problems as the body tries to fight the foreign material that has invaded the body. Symptoms may not appear right away and can even appear years after the procedure. Patients may experience allergic reactions, chronic fatigue, or severe joint pain if the liquid silicone migrates to another part of the body.

The message here is that women should only be having any desired cosmetic procedures performed by a licensed doctor in a licensed clinical facility where they can be safely taken care of and where only FDA approved products are being used. There are still risks present with any type of surgery, but the risks in this type of setting are much lower. Otherwise, women simply need to learn to accept their bodies for what they are. That is the healthiest and safest way to look “beautiful.”