Q: My best friend wants to get a procedure that would give her a shapelier backside, but she isn’t willing to pay for it through a plastic surgeon. I am desperate to talk her out of going to this local spa place for it. Can you help me convince her?
Jenny G., Orlando, Florida
A: Because of celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Rihanna and Jennifer Lopez, a skinny behind is not the ideal anymore. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, butt augmentation is the fastest-growing cosmetic enhancement procedure. In the U.S., over 11,500 were done in 2014 by certified plastic surgeons using fat grafting -- removing excess fat from one area of the body and injecting it into the buttocks. That’s up 15 percent in one year. Buttock implants, using solid silicone pads, increased 98 percent, from 942 procedures in 2013 to 1,863 in 2014. These can cost $10,000 or more.
That’s probably why a black-market trade in injectables by unlicensed and untrained people is thriving. The most renowned example is the case of Kimberly Smedley, who was prosecuted in 2012 by the Food and Drug Administration for giving hundreds of illegal buttocks injections in hotel rooms up and down the East Coast. She used silicone that is “intended to be used for metal or plastic lubrication, as an additive for paint and coatings, and as furniture or automotive polishes” and “endangered her customers’ lives ... causing at least one victim to suffer lung damage.” Such lung damage can lead to pneumonia, coughing up blood, leg swelling and numbing in toes.
How many others have gotten ill from unlicensed injections is difficult to estimate, but you can bet there are quite a few. So tell your friend to either pay for quality medical care from a certified plastic surgeon or learn to love herself and her natural beauty! Fads come and go. There was a time when women wore breath-stopping, waist-cinching corsets! Loving yourself creates true inner and outer beauty.
Q : I’ve heard a lot of talk lately about a new form of contraception for men. How close is it to really happening?
Josh V., Missoula, Montana
A: There’s a lot happening in the area of male contraception, and it’s about time. Until now, there’s been only condoms and a vasectomy. In a nutshell (no pun intended) male contraceptives in development include: a pill that targets the enzymes on the surface of the sperm to prevent conception; one that targets the sperm’s swimming ability; one that directly restricts the production of sperm; and there’s one called the “clean sheets pill” that prevents all fluids -- including sperm -- from pumping through the vas deferens (the tubes that connect the testicles to the urethra in the penis). That last pill could help prevent the spread of some STDs, too.
Each one has promise, but they need to go through clinical trials that will take several years to complete. Only then will we know not just their efficacy, but their side effects, too.
Perhaps the most exciting is a potential male contraceptive called Vasagel. It gets its name from the polymer “gel” that’s injected into the “vas” deferens, those sperm-carrying tubes, where it creates a sperm roadblock. It still allows some fluid to pass through, which avoids pressure buildup that’s sometimes a side effect of vasectomy. What makes this male birth control method more desirable is that, unlike a pill, you can’t forget to take it and it’s reversible with a second injection that dissolves the roadblock. If Vasagel is successful in clinical trials, it could be as effective as a vasectomy.
In the meantime, there are now condoms that change color when they come in contact with sexually transmitted infections, presenting different colors for syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, etc. So, if you want to find the best birth control for you and yours, go to the Planned Parenthood website (plannedparenthood.org) and talk to your doctor.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. Email your health and wellness questions to Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen at