A study of individuals who underwent illegal silicone injections revealed a high fatality rate from pulmonary silicone embolism, or obstruction of the lungs. The study was presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned silicone injections in 1992, but people still seek them out because they are cheaper and easier to get than professional plastic surgery or hormone therapy and provide immediate results. In surgical clinics, transgender patients are often required to undergo psychological testing before receiving treatment.
Unfortunately, the illicit nature of the injections makes it hard to estimate how common they actually are. However, the increasing popularity of the "pumping party"—where a host will inject a number of people with silicone in the same sitting—indicates both the demand and the ready availability of the substance.