Another Day, Another Floridian Arrested for Giving Illegal Butt Injections

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Oct. 16 2013 5:31 PM

Another Day, Another Floridian Arrested for Giving Illegal Butt Injections

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If your plastic surgeon gets her medical supplies here, you're in trouble.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

An Orlando man named Matthew Schultz has been arrested and charged with practicing medicine without a license. More specifically, Schultz has been charged with illegally peddling silicone butt injections to customers unwilling or unable to pay for the real thing. First Coast News reports that Schultz was arrested in a South Florida hotel room with “15 bottles of silicone liquid, 47 bottles of lidocaine, syringes, Super Glue, gloves, needles and $18,000 in a suitcase.” He allegedly performed up to six injections per day.

If you’ve been paying attention to the news, you probably know that unlicensed butt doctoring is a real growth industry. As the Los Angeles Times reported last year, legal butt augmentation has become a $26 million-per-year business, and the black market has flourished along with the legitimate one. Whereas the procedure once primarily appealed to transgender women with stingy insurance providers, ersatz surgeons now serve a wider clientele, including people who simply can’t afford hospital surgery. As the Daily Beast put it in an article last year, “when [young women] can plump their posteriors for as little as $300 a session, instead of shelling out $12,000 for butt lifts or implants, why not go for the back-alley shots?”

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There are a lot of good reasons why not. These illegal injections can be harrowing—back-alley surgeons often purchase their non-medical grade silicone from hardware stores—and occasionally fatal. The Times notes that, since 2002, “authorities across the country have investigated more than a dozen deaths related to illegal buttocks injections.”

The most famous unlicensed butt surgeon is perhaps Oneal Ron Morris, the transgender Miami-area “street doctor” infamous for peddling cut-rate butt implants made of rubber cement, glue, and other things you wouldn’t want to be injected with. (Morris isn’t just a vendor, she’s also a user: Her booking photographs show a cartoonishly protruding posterior that sticks out so far a child could sit on it.) In 2011, Morris—also known as Duchess—was arrested and charged with practicing medicine without a license after a patient complained that the implants made her sick. In 2012, Morris was charged with manslaughter in the death of one of her patients, Shatarka Nuby, who died after Morris injected commercial-grade silicone into her breasts, butt, hips, and thighs. “Nuby complained to friends and relatives that the injection sites on her body became hard and hot and her skin turned black,” the Miami Herald reported in July 2012. “She told investigators that she had been injected about 10 times between 2007 and 2011.”

Direct silicone injections are dangerous in even the most capable hands; silicone has a nasty habit of migrating throughout the body. So why would anyone trust these unlicensed doctors who operate out of hotel rooms? Naïveté, mostly. As the Daily Beast put it, “When it comes to buying curves, too many young women just don’t know the risks.” Fair enough. As a public service, here are two pieces of advice that all aspiring plastic surgery patients would do well to heed. First, it is never a good idea to use a street doctor, unless your street is sick. Oneal Morris apparently wore surgical scrubs to convince her patients she was legit. Guys, you can buy surgical scrubs at the dollar store—better to check out your doctor’s credentials with the state Department of Health. Second, when it comes to plastic surgery, you get what you pay for. Matthew Schultz allegedly charged between $100 and $1,200 for his procedures. That might seem like a bargain when you consider what an actual doctor would charge for the same thing, until you realize that the street procedure is only cheap because the “doctor” is buying the implants wholesale at Home Depot.

Justin Peters is a writer for Slate. He is working on a book about Aaron Swartz, copyright, and the rise of “free culture.” Email him at justintrevett@fastmail.fm.

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