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Cosmetic Injections FAQs

  • Why is having cosmetic injection or receiving “enhancement injections” by an unlicensed medical provider unsafe?
    When unlicensed medical providers perform cosmetic procedures, there are no assurances that the products (syringes, injectable materials, etc.) are safe and that good infection control practices are being followed. If the syringes used to inject the materials are not sterile, there is the potential to transmit infectious diseases such as hepatitis B and C and HIV, the virus associated with AIDS. Using these materials or not using good infection control can lead to infections with bacteria or viruses.

  • What types of substances have been injected and associated with serious medical problems?
    There have been reports of petroleum jelly, castor oil, mineral oil, automobile transmission fluid, “hydrogel,” caulk and commercial-grade silicone (from hardware stores) being injected into people’s face, hips, thighs, breasts and buttocks.  The product may be contaminated with germs that could cause an infection or impurities that may be harmful to human tissue.  And if the injection is performed without proper infection prevention controls, the site of the injection may become infected.

  • What types of bacterial infections have been reported?
    Infection may come from either the material that is being injected or from the injection site. Any material that is injected into the body must be free of contaminants and germs (sterile).  For instance, some materials that are being injected are a powder; and water is added to mix the powder so it can be injected.  Tap water (from the sink) should never be used as a mixer, as it is not sterile.  Reports of infections include bacteria found in tap water and soil. These bacterial infections are often difficult to treat and require immediate medical attention.  Additionally, proper infection control measures should be used so that the injection site does not get infected. 

  • What type of viruses can be transmitted by these procedures?
    If the syringes used to inject the materials or the materials themselves are contaminated, there is the potential to transmit infectious diseases such as Hepatitis B and C (diseases that affect the liver) and HIV, the virus associated with AIDS.

  • How did public health officials find out about the people who had these procedures?
    Some of the individuals who received injections by unlicensed medical providers required hospitalization for surgical and antibiotic treatments. They were hospitalized for complications as a result of the body enhancement procedures performed by unlicensed medical providers.  Hospitals reported these infections to local public health departments to investigate.

  • What is a “pumping party”?
    A pumping party is an event where an unlicensed medical provider injects (pumps) substances into the body for cosmetic purposes. These parties take place in people’s homes, hotel rooms and other non-clinical settings. In the United States, these procedures done by unlicensed medical providers are illegal.

  • Who attends “pumping parties?”
    Anyone may attend a pumping party. In the past, these parties were popular among transgender individuals.  However, reports of unlicensed medical providers providing illegal cosmetic procedures have increased among Hispanic/Latina women.

  • What are the complications of having a cosmetic procedure performed by an unlicensed medical provider or at a “pumping party?”
    Past reports of complications from illegal cosmetic procedures performed by unlicensed medical providers include nerve damage, respiratory and kidney failure, irreversible disabilities, disfigurement, serious infections and death.  Because the procedure includes body fluids and needles, there is also the risk of spreading infectious diseases, such as hepatitis B and C and HIV.

  • How do I know if the provider is unlicensed?
    In New Jersey, the Division of Consumer Affairs, Board of Medical Examiners is responsible for protecting the public's health and safety by determining qualifications of applicants for licensure, establishing standards for practice, and disciplining licensees who do not adhere to those requirements.  You may search their website to verify the credentials of a licensed provider in the state at and click on the NJ Healthcare Profile link.

  • Why would someone turn to an unlicensed medical provider for a cosmetic procedure?
    Cosmetic procedures performed by an unlicensed medical provider usually cost less than if they are done by a licensed health care provider.  These unlicensed medical providers may have a medical license from another country or no medical training at all. If you are considering a cosmetic procedure, talk with a licensed healthcare provider about where to go to ensure safe infection control procedures are used.

  • What should I do if I had a procedure done by an unlicensed medical provider and am feeling ill/sick?
    If you have had a procedure from an unlicensed medical provider, inform your health care provider so that they may treat any complications.  If you require immediate attention, go to the nearest emergency room and inform the provider about your procedure.

  • Should I go to another country to have a cosmetic procedure performed?
    The United States has strict requirements for healthcare providers who are able to perform cosmetic procedures and for infection control practices during these procedures; other countries may not meet these strict standards.  If you choose to go to another country for cosmetic procedures you should be sure that the procedure is performed in a clinical setting, confirm that the materials used for the procedure are sterile and of medical quality and verify the credentials of the person performing the procedure. 

  • If I know of an unlicensed medical provider performing cosmetic procedures, who should I contact?
    Contact your local health department to report an unlicensed medical provider or unlicensed cosmetic procedures.  To find the number of your local health department, go to:

Department of Health

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Last Modified: Thursday, 05-Jul-12 14:50:36