A 22-year-old Los Angeles woman is believed to have died of silicone injections. Autopsy results are pending, but respiratory distress could have killed Mayra Lissette Contreras, according KTLA-TV in Los Angeles.
Silicone injected into the body can have serious medical consequences. These range from heavy scarring to death from breathing problems - as appears to be what happened in Contreras's case. Underground cosmetic surgeons are not always so careful, using industrial silicone and injecting large quantities of the substance, rather than implanting it, it is said.
"Stories like this are all too common," New York cosmetic surgeon Dr. Michael Kane told CBS News. "Every year someone dies in this country from illegal silicone injections. These buttock injections are usually done by unlicensed people, because I don't know any licensed professional who would inject large amounts of silicone into the body."
The lucky victims develop thick scar tissue, says Kane. The unlucky ones die, often from a pulmonary embolism, in which silicone escapes into the bloodstream and causes a clot in the lungs.
"It's easy for an injector to hit a vein, the silicon hits the bloodstream and goes to the lungs," Colin Stewart, a columnist for The Orange County Register, told CNN.
Police are looking Guadalupe Viveros and her sister Alejandra Viveros, 50, in connection with the case. They believe that Contreras had received injections the day before she died and had received similar treatments from the sisters in the past.
The Viveros sisters were investigated last month by the Los Angeles Police Department after other patients complained that the fillers, typically injected in the face or the buttocks, made them ill.
The sisters were taken into custody June 21 for practicing medicine without a license, police said. They were held on $20,000 bail before being released. They have since jumped bail and might have fled to Mexico.