Madonna denies butt injection rumors — here's why the procedure can be deadly

Madonna is shutting down critics for suggesting she butt injections, saying she’s seeking “no one’s approval.” Here’s why the procedure can be dangerous. (Photo: ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images)
Madonna is shutting down critics for suggesting she butt injections, saying she’s seeking “no one’s approval.” Here’s why the procedure can be dangerous. (Photo: ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images)

It was an unforgettable New Year’s Eve for those at the iconic Stonewall Inn in New York’s West Village, where attendees were treated to a surprise performance by Madonna. But in the hours after the Queen of Pop took the stage, the conversation shifted from her star power to a more divisive, but less important topic: her behind.

“Did Madonna get butt implants?” celebrity blogger Perez Hilton posited, in a post followed by four question marks. “Her bοοty looks insane!!!” The query, seemingly inspired by the video of her performance, launched a heated debate on Twitter, with some insisting it was proof of a secret procedure and others suggesting the bulge was simply a poor choice of padding.

But as Madonna’s fans were busy sharing their opinions on the matter, the pop star did what she does best — stole back the spotlight, writing on Instagram alongside a selfie that she’s “desperately seeking no one’s approval.”

While it seems Madonna may be shutting down the allegations against her, the incident has the internet reeling over butt injections in general. The topic isn’t one to take lightly — butt injections, as many plastic surgeons have warned, can be extremely dangerous. Just this week, a New York City woman was arrested for allegedly performing an illegal butt injection on a woman in the Bronx, who died this summer as a result.

So what exactly are butt injections — and what do you need to know about getting them?

Most times when people think of butt injections, they’re describing a procedure in which silicone or other materials are injected directly into the buttocks. In a GQ profile last year, rapper Cardi B described one such procedure, saying she got it done in someone’s basement “for $800.” But while silicone used for breast implants is safe (because of a protective covering), this type of silicone isn’t — which is why butt injections using silicone, collagen or other synthetic materials are illegal.

“Side effects [of injectable silicone] can include ongoing pain … scarring, tissue death, and permanent disfigurement,” the FDA warned last November. “If the silicone migrates beyond the injection site, it could cause an embolism (blockage of a blood vessel), stroke, infections and death. Serious complications may occur right away or could develop weeks, months, or years later.”

While injectable silicone should be off limits, the FDA does approve one type of butt augmentation: Brazilian butt lift surgery (BBL). According to the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, BBL is a procedure that “improves the fullness and shape of the buttocks using your own fat.” In order to perform it, doctors use liposuction to remove fat from other areas and then add it back to the butt.

Dr. Joshua Zuckerman, MD, FACS, a board-certified plastic surgeon based in New York City says BBL surgeries require the right candidate. “Brazilian butt lift uses your own fat tissue so it’s safe, but you have to have enough fat to give — you can’t be super skinny,” he tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “That’s where you run into people who go for illegal procedures, getting a liter of silicone injected into each butt cheek. It’s disturbing.” Zuckerman says he’s treated many patients who have undergone illegal procedures, and end up suffering chronic pain or other health problems as a result.

Although there’s an argument to be made that the culture of promoting perfect body standards is problematic, according to a report from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the number of safe butt augmentations is growing. Ten percent more people received butt augmentations in 2017 from the year before — over 20,000 nationwide.

Zuckerman — who says he’s performed a fair amount — is careful to remind patients that the procedure comes with risks (including infection, bleeding and injury). But he says when it’s done well, BBL can be a positive procedure. “You have to do it right,” he says. “Your safety depends on it.”

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