President Gustavo Petro signed today the law that immediately prohibits the use of biopolymers in cosmetic surgeries in Colombia. The legislation also aims to protect the victims of this substance, who are predominantly women. Some high-profile cases in recent years have fueled public debate about the toxicity of polymers, prompting the Colombian legislature to take action by banning their use in the country.
Toxicity of Biopolymers
Biopolymers are polymers produced by living organisms. Some common biopolymers include cellulose, chitin, starch, and DNA and RNA proteins. They are derived from various carbohydrates such as sugar or biofats. Unfortunately, they have frequently been used in poorly or unprofessionally performed cosmetic procedures.
They are highly toxic and pose a health risk, as silicone can spread freely to other parts of the body and tissues. Likewise, halogenated substances have been linked to autoimmune reactions, such as systemic sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and fibromyalgia.
Victims have suffered years of consequences and struggles to be recognized and to prevent, by law, the use of these substances. The debate has been growing in recent years, after some well-known individuals were affected by procedures involving this substance.
The Case of Jessica Cediel
Actress, model, and presenter Jessica Cediel was one of the most prominent victims. Her case fueled public debate about the use of these substances. In an interview with Semana magazine, Cediel revealed that she underwent five surgeries in the area where she was injected with biopolymers.
The doctor who injected her with biopolymers was sentenced to 48 months in prison after being found guilty of injecting the substance into Cediel’s buttocks in 2009, causing physical and mental harm to the Bogotá native. The doctor was also disqualified from practicing his profession for 6 months.
“I will never be able to completely remove that poison from my body,” said the actress, who still suffers the consequences of the cosmetic procedure. Cediel had to wait 13 years to have a sentence that condemned the doctor, who ultimately would not serve a prison sentence.
“Despite having every right to do so, I will not initiate a comprehensive reparations process against Dr. Martín Horacio Carrillo Gómez, the sole responsible for all the multiple damages caused to my body, my mental health, my family, my career, publicly and morally,” the actress expressed on her social media.
The Law is Approved
The law was presented by Senator Carlos Fernando Motoa of Cambio Radical. Motoa emphasized that “it is a law that guarantees medical and psychological care for victims of biopolymers.” Similarly, Law 2316 of 2023, which has just been sanctioned, “promotes the creation of a national registry of centers, professionals, and clinics dedicated to cosmetic procedures; and ultimately criminalizes the use of these substances,” said the Cambio Radical senator, celebrating the law’s approval.
The services will be included in the Health Benefits Plan (PBS) for both the contributory and subsidized regimes. In this regard, they must include the extraction or treatment of the substance from the body, rehabilitation, and medications.
Penalties Established by the Law
The new law provides for a prison sentence of between 32 and 120 months and a fine of between 150 and 250 minimum wages for anyone who uses biopolymers in another person’s body. However, according to Article 3 of the law, if the action is committed by a healthcare professional, this penalty would be between 96 and 180 months in prison and a fine ranging from 200 to 300 monthly minimum wages. Additionally, a professional disqualification of 5 years would be established for the responsible party.
There is also an aggravating factor: if the victim is under 18 years of age, or if the operation’s consequences affect the patient’s face, the penalty would increase by up to 50%.