Unregulated salons = dangerous
A disturbing story about illegal injections being performed for breast and buttock enhancement culminated in the Friday jailing of a Tyler salon owner wanted for illegally practicing medicine.
As of last Thursday morning, Tyler police were still searching for 39-year-old Carmel Mitchelle Foster, the woman they say is responsible for giving East Texas women illegal breast enhancement injections. Foster was subsequently arraigned and jailed in Harrison County, facing two felony charges of practicing medicine without a license. Police say no one else has officially come forward saying they have had the injections done, though, "We are aware that four other people have said they have had it done by Foster," Tyler Police PIO Don Martin tells Tyler's KLTV News.
Police reported that Foster was doing illegal injection procedures in the buttocks and breasts for enhancement in a back room of her East Texas salon. During a search warrant, police said they found containers of a substance inside the salon, an unapproved cosmetic filler that the FDA is currently trying to identify.
"The FDA has two agents on site with us that are helping us take samples of what we gathered at the business as well as what they gathered at the hospital to turn that into their lab," officer Don Martin tells KYTX news in Tyler. Whatever was allegedly injected landed one woman in a Longview hospital in critical condition one day after having the procedure. According to Martin, the injuries include "burning of the skin and leakage."
During a search warrant, police said they found containers of a substance inside the salon, an unapproved cosmetic filler that the FDA is currently trying to identify.
One Tyler woman says of the salon, "[You could] ....look pretty for really cheap so friends were getting friends to go there." This woman, who asked not to be identified, reported that something just didn't seem right when she spoke previously to Foster about doing a breast enhancement treatment at the Queen Diva Salon.
How much did the illegal injections cost?
"It varied from anywhere from $300 to $400 to $1,200 to $1,300," she says. The unidentified woman had also asked Foster to show her what would be used for the procedure. "It was slippery and it almost looks like sanitzer," she describes. "It has the bubbles and stuff... so it's thick... and just stays on there."
The woman says Foster told her the product came from a doctors office in Dallas, where she worked on the weekends. "She had ripped off the label [on the bottle]," she notes. "It didn't have a label."
The unidentified woman also says her friends have experienced complications from services offered by Foster. "People say that [the filler] will leak through the punctures that she does," she explains. When these patients asked the doctor how to care for these wounds, Foster apparently responded, "glue."
According to police, the woman who pressed charges against Foster, 26-year-old Sheena Bradford, received breast enhancement injections in the back room of Queen Divas Salon. Sheena's friend Devora Templeton says Sheena didn't know the injections would make her sick.
"This lady told me that she put saline solution in her breasts... Saline water is not going to harden your breasts like that, and it looks like she has been beaten in her breasts — they're purple, they're bruised bad and swollen. And saline water is not going to cause you to have all of these health problems," says Templeton. She also says Sheena was under the impression that the woman administering the injections was licensed and a former employee at a doctor's office.
Now, Templeton says Sheena is fighting for her life, as doctor and police try to determine what fluid was injected into Sheena's body. Tyler police are encouraging anyone who has had a medical procedure performed on them by Foster, and wishes to file charges, to contact Detective Andy Erbaugh at the Tyler Police Department.
Although this particular unlicensed salon was located in Tyler, this is a horror story that could happen anywhere in Texas — Austin is not immune. Salons and spas continue to offer beauty treatments and invasive procedures, such as injections, with minimal to no licensed physician oversight. If you insist on experimenting, be sure to heed these warnings:
- When getting a synthetic material injected as a beauty treatment, ask questions and do your research ahead of time! Make sure you are getting injected with a filler approved by the FDA of the United States for that specific purpose. No synthetic injectables are approved in the United States for breast enlargement. Botox, Restylane, Radiesse, Sculptra and Juvederm are examples of FDA approved products for injection into certain areas of the face for cosmetic purposes.
- Only get injected by a physician trained to do those procedures or his or her licensed designee (usually an RN or physician's assistant who has been specially trained in the techniques). The doctor should be on site in a supervisory role. Doctors in the core specialties such as plastic surgery, ENT and dermatology are specifically trained and capable to administer these injectables, as well as treat complications that could arise.
- Don't allow an unlicensed provider who offers you a discount that seems "too good to be true" do your cosmetic treatments. They may have little or no knowledge of human anatomy or physiology! Be sure to get any procedure done in a clean, sanitary, medical environment, such as a doctor's office, with a licensed professional. Beware of the bargain basement cosmetic treatments — they can be potentially disfiguring or even fatal due to infection, toxicity or an unapproved substance inadvertantly passing into the bloodstream and going to the heart or lungs.