The owner of a South Texas beauty salon has received a three-year prison sentence for injecting liquid silicone into customers at her spa. The illegal injections caused the death of one of her clients and severely injured at least one more.
According to a statement issued by federal prosecutors, Elva Navarro, 38, administered the silicone to at 30 female customers after lying to them about having the necessary training and certification to inject the substance. In 2012, a client of Navarro’s spa, the Bella Face and Body Spa located in McAllen, Texas, had to be hospitalized after being injected. In addition, one woman died after Navarro injected her in October 2013.
Investigators with the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office in Texas were notified by the husband of a client of Navarro’s after he heard that the sheriff was cracking down on spas injecting silicone and claiming it to be Botox. Sheriff Lupe Treviño said that the victim paid $750 to Navarro for multiple injections on Oct. 7, 2012. The victim immediately complained of pain, and was admitted into an intensive care unit three days later. She remained in intensive care for 17 days. Since her release, the woman has endured multiple surgeries in order to repair damage to her muscle tissue and skin caused by the silicone.
Navarro entered a guilty plea to one charge of taking possession of a degraded device through interstate trade with the intent to deceive or defraud. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved liquid silicone for use in plastic surgery. Navarro had been using the liquid silicone in her Texas spa under the pretense that it was Botox which, once injected into their buttocks, would enhance their rears.
The desire for a fuller bottom has increased across the United States, leading many women to seek a quick way to achieve results without expensive surgery. SanJuanita Herrera of South Texas was one of those women. In 2010, she heard from friends that a woman was augmenting buttocks with injections and that there were many people having the procedure done. Herrera paid about $100 per 10 injections of what she was told was Botox.
Herrera was pleased with the results and said she and her friends who had also received the injections were “happy” with the results, which lasted for years. Eventually, the site of the injection began to become misshapen and “lumpy.” The skin around the site began to disintegrate and form ulcers. Herrera said she was ashamed of what she had done, but she was more concerned with living and visited a surgeon, who informed her that the injections had not been Botox, but rather silicone. The surgeon directed her to a cosmetic surgeon, Filiberto Rodriguez, who says that the growing number of people injecting clients with silicone are using the type that can be bought at a home improvement store.
Added to the danger is the “massive” amount of silicone required to augment the buttocks, which can then spread to the patient’s lungs via their bloodstream, resulting in “immediate death.” Rodriguez says the FDA has approved an implant made of solid silicone which are inserted inside of the muscle. The promise of quick results for a lot less money than a surgery without the intense recovery can persuade women not only in Texas, but throughout the nation, to ignore their doubts and submit to a risky procedure. Rodriquez hopes that Herrera’s story will serve as a warning and prevent the same type of complications, or even death, in women who desire to augment their bodies.
By Jennifer Pfalz