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MEXICO: The devastation caused by injecting foreign substances for cosmetic purposes into the body

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Palmira’s 69-year-old mother Juana Garcia Lopez cooks breakfast at their home in Mexico City, Mexico on March 2, 2019.<br />
Palmira Bothi Garcia is a 49-year-old trans woman who lives in Mexico City. Palmira received buttock augmentation injections at the age of 17 and as a result is now being treated for human adjuvant disease. She has never had surgery to remove the foreign materials and today her legs are either atrophied or rock hard, black, bent at a 90-degree angle and covered in ulcers. Living with the disease has markedly changed Palmira’s life. She realizes that she is at significant risk of a severe infection. Her mother has moved in to help with household chores and do the shopping. A year ago she left her job as a hairstylist after she was confined to a wheelchair. Nowadays she works at the Institute for the Disabled in Mexico City. “I believe that 95% of those who have received injections are damaged.” She says.<br />
Human adjuvant disease, HAD, is a pathology caused by the injection of foreign substances for cosmetic purposes, and represents a serious health problem. Seeking simple, fast, cheap, painless and what some thought was a safe alternative to plastic surgery, the application of non-authorized modeling substances by untrained personnel has become a frequent practice. Nevertheless, the injections could lead - often several years after receiving them - to serious complications, even death. For some, it has caused irreversible damage to their physical health, self-esteem and quality of life. In Mexico, HAD is an existent problem. Between 2006 and 2018, Mexico City’s General Hospital has seen 4785 of these cases, according to their plastic and reconstructive surgery specialists. Photograph by Bénédicte Desrus