Marisela is reflected in her bathroom mirror while getting herself ready, at her home in Mexico City, Mexico on February 14, 2019.
Marisela Castillo Zavala is a 52 years-old single mother of one who lives in Mexico City. More than twenty years ago, Marisela and several friends went to the home of an alleged cosmetologist because they wanted to modify their bodies. Marisela was injected in the buttocks with five bottles of what she was told was collagen. Each bottle cost 3,500 Mexican Pesos (180 U.S. Dollars) at the time. Over time she discovered that she had been injected with a mixture of silicone and cooking oil. Five years after the injections, Marisela began to feel a burning sensation in her buttocks and her legs go hard. She was diagnosed with "human adjuvant disease by infiltration of foreign substances for cosmetic purposes” and fibromyalgia. The doctors had to partially amputate her buttocks. She has gone through eight removal and reconstructive surgeries and months without being able to sit down.
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