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

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Toña during a medical check up with Dr. Gabriel Medrano Ramírez, rheumatologist at the General Hospital in Mexico City, Mexico on September 4, 2019.<br />
Toña Ascensio is a 56-year-old trans woman who works as a hair stylist and lives with her 90-year-old mother in Ecatepec, State of Mexico. A little less than 30 years ago a doctor injected silicone mixed with oil in different parts of her body: bust, buttocks, hips and legs. Several of her friends died from these injections, but Toña did not develop any symptoms for 25 years. Then, spots began to appear on her skin, hardening, becoming red and swollen. To reduce the inflammation she had to undergo a strong treatment, similar to chemotherapy.<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