Massive Systemic Silicone Embolism: A Case Report and Review of Literature

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Subcutaneous injections of inert or quasi-inert plastic material designed to smooth out wrinkled skin or to create a more esthetically sought appearance have become very popular with the American public in general, and, in particular, with certain groups highly focused on their physical image. The case of the injection procedure has attracted into the field of plastic medicine a substantial number of illegal, incompetent, and unscrupulous operators. Their ignorance of involved medical risks and procedures not uncommonly results in severe complications, disfigurement, and death of patients. We report the typical pathological and chemical findings of a systemic fatal silicone embolism in a 53-year-old heterosexual woman following illegal chronic injections of silicone in her hips and buttocks. The injected subcutaneous silicone apparently migrated rapidly from the interstitial subcutaneous tissue into the general blood stream resulting in a fatal systemic silicone embolism. An analysis of the presented case in conjunction with a review of the pertinent medical literature, including a recent article, revealed a marked similarity in the clinicopathologic findings between silicone embolism and fat embolism.

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