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Unlicensed Practice of Cosmetic Surgery Leads to “Surgeons” Death

Unlicensed Practice of Cosmetic Surgery Leads to “Surgeons” Death

Although this article is not directly related to foreigners living in Brazil, the topic is one that has recently made international headlines as many foreigners come to Brazil on plastic surgery “holidays”. The cost of having surgery abroad may be cheaper, but buyer beware: the unsafe, unregulated black market for plastic surgery in Brazil continues to grow.

Marcilene Soares Gama was an unlicensed cosmetic surgeon who publicized her buttock enlargement surgeries online. She had been arrested twice before – once in Rio de Janeiro in 2013 and again in São Paulo in 2015. Each time, she was charged with performing black market cosmetic surgery on women. Despite the fact that she was facing charges in court, Gama continued performing such surgeries up until her recent death.

Gama’s body was discovered in a vacant lot near her home in Rio de Janeiro. According to police reports, she was found wearing only her underwear with her hands tied behind her back. It appeared that she had been shot point blank in the face. Though there is no definitive evidence that Gama’s murder was connected to her “profession”, police believe she was most likely murdered as revenge for a botched cosmetic surgery.

Cosmetic surgery is big business in Brazil, and buttock implants in a country known for women’s large derrières is a popular procedure. In fact, the inventor of the “Brazilian butt lift” is the famed Brazilian plastic surgeon Dr. Ivo Pitanguy. Brazil comes in second worldwide (after the U.S.) for cosmetic surgeries, but it comes in first for buttock procedures with a whopping 67,870 reported in 2015.

With so many women seeking these treatments, the black market for them has grown. In these scenarios, fraudulent surgeons inject unsafe products into women’s bodies to simulate the desired effect. These unregulated products, however, sometimes have lethal consequences. Some unlicensed surgeons have used products such as cooking oil, cement, bathroom caulk, and tire sealant.

Gama, for example, was accused of injecting industrial silicone into her patients’ bodies. At least ten women have come forward with injuries and health problems caused by botched buttock implant procedures performed by Gama.

While the murder investigation continues into Gama’s death, many more foreigners will go to Brazil to undergo cosmetic procedures performed by unlicensed doctors. Whether they do so knowingly or unknowingly, the risks are the same. The next time you consider having any type of cosmetic surgery abroad, make sure you fully vet the doctor. The consequences are simply too great to ignore.