April 18, 2009

Warning against castor oil injections

The New York City health department is warning residents about the dangers of receiving body-enhancement injections of castor oil and other substances.

Dr. Nathan Graber, director of the health department's environmental and occupational disease program, says the department has been notified of five cases in the past two years involving injections of various oils to the hips, thighs, breasts and buttocks by unlicensed practitioners for cosmetic purposes. Similar cases have been reported in other cities and states.

The substances used to enhance body parts include castor oil, silicone, petroleum jelly, mineral oil or cod liver oil.

Those practices are illegal and unsafe, Graber says. The injections can cause serious infections, nerve damage, respiratory and kidney failure, irreversible disabilities, disfigurement and death. They also carry the risk of spreading infectious diseases such as HIV, hepatitis B and C.

People who undergo these unsafe procedures hope to enhance their appearance, but the reality can be lifelong deformity and even death, Graber says in a statement. We urge people to talk to a licensed health care provider about where to go for safe procedures.