Cardi B Speaks Out Against Illegal Butt Injections
On a fateful day in 2014, rapper Cardi B—still relatively unknown and working as a stripper at the time—found herself on a table in a basement apartment in Queens, New York, getting her butt injected with a foreign substance.
"They don't numb your ass with anything," Cardi said, describing the experience in an interview with GQ. "It was the craziest pain ever. I felt like I was going to pass out. I felt a little dizzy. And it leaks for, like, five days."
Cardi B paid $800 for the black-market butt lift from a woman who was later arrested.
"She's supposedly killed somebody," Cardi said in the interview. "Well, somebody died on her table."
Cardi, on the other hand, was fortunate enough to live to regret her basement butt injections and eventually have them removed. She described the process of having the procedure reversed in an Instagram Live post in December 2022.
"In August I got surgery and I removed 95 percent of my biopolymers...If you don't know what it is, it's ass shots. It was a really crazy process," Cardi said. "All I'm going to say is that if you're young, if you're 19, 20, 21, and sometimes you're too skinny, and you be like 'OMG I don't have enough fat to put in my ass,' so you resort to ass shots, DON'T!"
What to know about butt injections
Biopolymers are nonabsorbable, gel-like substances, such as silicone, that can be injected into the butt and other areas of the body. However, they are not biocompatible, so these foreign substances are rejected by the body and can trigger responses ranging from inflammation to permanent disfigurement.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns against using injectable fillers for body contouring. Injectable silicone, in particular, is associated with severe health consequences, including death, according to the administration.
"When you inject a permanent material like silicone into the tissues, it disperses through the tissues," explained J. Peter Rubin, M.D., chair of plastic surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. "If that silicone gets infected or causes any irritation of the tissues, you can get chronic infection, drainage and pain."
In the best-case scenario—where the silicone injected is pure and medical grade—butt injection-caused complications are very difficult to treat, Rubin said.
"You literally have to remove all of the tissue that contains the silicone," he said.
Rarely do illegal injections involve medical-grade materials.
"A lot of times with these illegal injections done by people—some of whom are not even doctors—we don't know what material is being injected," Rubin said.
Still, there is a way to get butt injections safely, he emphasized. The procedure, called gluteal fat grafting (colloquially known as a Brazilian butt lift), can be performed safely by injecting fat from another part of the body, as opposed to using silicone or a foreign substance. When performed properly by an accredited surgeon, the procedure involves "a significant amount of liposuction to remove fat from the other part of the body, and then grafting that fat into the buttock area," Rubin said.
What to consider before getting a BBL
For people considering a BBL, Rubin had a few tips. First, he "advocates strongly" for choosing a surgeon who is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
"You should establish a relationship with your surgeon," he said. "Your surgeon should be available to take care of you both before the surgery and after."
"Your surgeon should use an ultrasound or some other method to know where they're injecting the fat," Rubin added.
Finally, if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.
"If you're having a procedure done at bargain-basement prices, it depends on the facility being able to move through these cases as quickly as possible," Rubin said.