A Brazilian plastic surgeon, Dr Ricardo Ribeiro, has developed a new procedure that involves sewing strips of polytetrafluoroethylene, a permanent mesh, into the buttocks to lift and shape them, mimicking spanx. The procedure is currently only performed by surgeons in Brazil and Portugal and costs around $6,000.
The 'internal spanx' works by sewing strips of elasticated plastic mesh across the buttocks to create a web underneath the skin. The mesh is then attached to a bone in the lower back to prevent it from moving. As the effects are similar to those of wearing spanx, the procedure is set to rival more established buttock implant surgery.
Elise Bevan, a solicitor at Penningtons Manches, who handles both product liability and cosmetic surgery claims, said: "This is the first time polytetrafluoroethylene mesh has been used in the buttocks. The mesh is more commonly known for its application in hernia repair surgery. It is also currently the subject of much controversy after women suffered injuries following prolapse repair surgery in which the mesh was used.”
Transvaginal mesh products evolved from surgical mesh selected for hernia repairs. Surgeons began using the hernia mesh to repair prolapses and assist those suffering from urinary stress incontinence before the products were developed to treat these conditions. Medical device manufacturers took notice of this clinical practice and responded by creating mesh products specifically designed for prolapses and stress incontinence.
The first transvaginal mesh device was approved by the Food and Drugs Agency (FDA) in 1996 but then recalled over safety concerns three years later. For a number of years afterwards there were serious concerns about the safety of transvaginal mesh used in treating pelvic organ prolapses. The FDA sounded the alarm in 2008 with a safety alert stating that it had received over 1,000 reports of serious mesh complications. Since then, the FDA has received tens of thousands of additional adverse event reports involving the mesh, prompting massive public outcry to ban the products.
There were reports of serious complications such as infection, erosion of the vaginal tissues and organ perforation leading to the need for revision surgery and resulting in scarring and permanent nerve damage. Since then, investigations have revealed that the mesh is poorly designed and tested for use in transvaginal procedures. As a result, there are a large number of product liability claims pending in the US and the UK against the manufacturers of the transvaginal mesh.
"There will be concerns that 'internal spanx' will follow suit,” commented Elise. "While on the face of it, using the mesh to enhance the buttocks sounds like a good idea, history itself has proven that surgeons should perhaps stick to using the mesh for what it was initially designed for - treating hernias. The long-term outcomes and complications of the use of mesh in the buttocks are not yet known and it is unlikely that this use will be approved by the FDA in the near future. Until it is, we cannot see this procedure being overly popular with surgeons and any patient who is keen to try it, should proceed with caution."
Penningtons Manches is currently acting for a number of claimants involved in transvaginal mesh litigation and would be happy to provide free, informal advice for anyone contemplating a claim.