ABC News Report - Buying Massive Muscles: Risky Injections Lure Body Builders

  1. Post ABC News Report - Buying Massive Muscles: Risky Injections Lure Body Builders Buying Massive Muscles
    May 16, 2007 - As a personal trainer and a judge for National Physique Committee bodybuilding events, Dr. Bruce Nadler has seen his share of bulging biceps, massive pecs and delts that might make a Greek god hang his head in shame.

    But he said that what he has seen on the professional bodybuilding circuit in recent years takes the cake.
    "When I go to the bodybuilding performances now, some of them, their appearance is barely human," he said.

    So what's behind the 30-inch biceps and the other freakishly proportioned muscle groups on display nowadays?

    The culprit is a type of injectable oil, commonly known as synthol.

    Bodybuilder and fitness author Ron Harris said that synthol and products like it are used only by "a very small percentage of bodybuilders, but they tend to really stand out."

    "They are just obnoxious to behold," he said.

    And Nadler said that the practice has gotten way out of hand.

    "There are some instances of absolutely freakish appearance because of it," he said. "The fact that a lot of individuals have this bizarre appearance shows that there is an attraction there, even if it is the same type of attraction you'd see at a bad car wreck."

    A Growing Trend

    Invented in the mid-1990s by a German bodybuilder named Chris Clark, synthol is a thick oil that is usually injected directly into the "belly" of a muscle to literally pump it up -- albeit temporarily.

    Competitive bodybuilders originally used synthol and other products like it, known collectively as site enhancement oils, to even out minor asymmetries in muscle size and shape.

    But before long, some bodybuilders began injecting massive quantities of the oil into their arms in order to appear more buff -- a practice known in the sport as "fluffing."

    "It makes the muscle appear larger, but it actually weakens it," said Dr. Mauro DiPasquale, a former bodybuilder and physician in Ontario, Canada, and president of the United World Powerlifting Federation.

    In this way, synthol is not the same as steroids. While steroids are hormones that help increase the actual muscle size and mass, synthol is a bit like an implant for the arms; it just makes muscle look bigger.

    However, Harris said, "The same mentality that would drive people to use steroids would drive them to this."

    But in bodybuilding, being artificial isn't always perceived as a bad thing. As a former cosmetic surgeon whose services were sought out by a number of bodybuilders, Nadler said he has used medical aesthetic procedures to help some patients increase the apparent size of certain muscles -- from calf implants to pectoral implants.

    But he said that in most cases the abuse of synthol leaves much to be desired in terms of appearance.

    "It is used and abused today in everything from filling muscles to making muscles look like big bags of oil," he said.

    Harris agrees. "You get weird lumps and bumps, as well as an almost bizarre shape to the muscle."

    That doesn't deter some competitive bodybuilders, who see the shots as a shortcut to massive gains.

    "I've heard of one person who had 150 synthol injections into one muscle area," DiPasquale said. "I've seen people who have tried to pump their 19-inch arms up to 22-inch arms."

    Buying Bigger Muscles Online

    Thanks to the Internet, site enhancement oils (and the syringes used to inject them) are widely available to professional bodybuilders and weekend warriors alike.

    Marketed as a "posing oil," a single bottle of synthol and products like it can run between $200 and $400.

    "You can buy it online and get it shipped right to your house," Harris said. "Either the FDA has too much going on to pay attention to it, or they really don't know how it's being used.

    "If it was actually marketed for its true use, then you would see much more backlash against it."

    Telephone messages left with distributors of two such products -- Syntherol and PumpNPose -- were not returned.

    Risks of Pumping Up

    Even though it is not currently regulated, some worry that bodybuilders could be putting their health at risk.

    "A couple of years ago, there was a case of someone injecting synthol accidentally into a small artery, and he actually killed off part of his muscle," DiPasquale said. "And with any injection, if it is close enough to the nerve, it will disrupt that as well."

    Harris agrees, noting that he has read a few reports of people who have used site enhancement oils who have nearly died from complications associated with the injections. And Nadler said that there is a possibility that a user could inject it into a blood vessel, causing a potentially life-threatening embolism.

    "I'm sure there has to have been some human deaths because of this," he said.

    DiPasquale said that unsterilized needles can also lead to abscesses and infections, as well as the formation of scar tissue.

    But he adds that despite the risks, many will still use the product if it means an extra couple of inches on their arms.

    "I really don't advise people to use synthol," he said. "It is not something that is recommended, but if someone is going to do it, they're going to do it."

    Freak Show Bodies Not for Everyone

    Not all bodybuilders approve of synthol use; in fact, even in this sport where many look to enhancement through pharmaceutical means, synthol abusers are viewed as cheaters.

    "Even the ones who use steroids and those who don't are vehemently against synthol use," Harris said. He adds that while steroid users still must eat right and train in order to reap gains, those who use synthol are perceived as taking the ultimate shortcut toward a more massive appearance.

    "Even among a group where pretty much anything goes in terms of pharmaceutical use and abuse, even to them this is a scourge," he said. "It's cheating; there's no effort involved."

    But Nadler said that though he does not feel the trend represents the bodybuilding community as a whole, he fears those that abuse site enhancing oils are setting a bad example for adolescents and teens interested in bodybuilding.

    "I don't think the bodybuilding community has come out strongly enough condemning this sort of freakish appearance," he said.

    "It's part of the almost kind of shortcut thinking that goes on with a lot of what's happening in bodybuilding, whether it's abusing steroids or some other substance."

    Still, Harris said, the stigma of synthol abuse could be enough to keep many bodybuilders away from the bottle and the needle.

    "They really have no allies. They're mocked online on our message boards by other bodybuilders," he said.

    "I honestly don't know if some of those guys are not all there, but they're not fooling anybody."

    (Copyright 2007 by ABC News. All Rights Reserved.)
    RcB Since 09-06-2011 20:55 EST, Post 49

  2. Anybody have any opinions about/experiences with snythol?

    Yeah yeah, I know (he actually claims otherwise though).

    RcB Since 09-06-2011 20:55 EST, Post 49

  3. This is probably news to alot of people who arent involved intimately in the bodybuilding community. Alot of people still think HGH, synthol and even creatine are all just steroids. Lol.
    Truth is though, the actual useage and prevelance of synthol type products is not fully understood even in our community.
    Most people's thoughts go directly to the obvious abusers with the funny lumps and mishapen, smooth but massive bodyparts.

    I hear people angrily speaking out against it saying stuff like: "There is no good way to use it, I've never seen a synthol job that looked good."

    But the real truth is that theyve actually seen alot of "good" synthol jobs. They just didnt recognize that what they were looking at was a "touch up job".

    I dont think people realize how many vials of that stuff it would take to get the ugly lumpy "3 inches in one month" look.

    From what I've seen, even a gain of 1/2 inch to the arms seems requires hundreds and hundreds of dollars worth of the stuff. And the only indication would be tighter, fuller looking muscles and perhaps some bruising on the bi's and tri's. The funky looking lumps are a result of either incredible frequency and/or volume of injections, or from shabby injection technique. The look that synthol is famous for producing is the result of mind blowing ammounts. (Were talking close to gallons.)

    Personally I'd rather have hard and well developed muscle fibers that have an asthetically pleasing look. Why spend hundreds and risk an oil embolism, when the most you can hope for from it is either a 1/2-1inch of girth that wont last and will require frequent scar tissue building, bruising site injections, or a really bad looking 3inches of girth at the expense of asthetics and even MORE money than the 1/2-1inch style approach (also not lasting). The stuff will weaken the muscle and might cause permanant damage to nerves, blood vessels or muscles. Not to mention you can die if any get's caught in your lungs or causes an oil embolism in your arteries.

    But people will do what they feel is right for them. So I say whatever.
  4. Wink

    Hey, just because I think you look like a freak doesn't mean you shouldn't look like a freak!

  5. Weird, I just saw GotRipped's thread about him mulling over this very topic: I'm Actually Thinking About It - Synthol in my Calves
    RcB Since 09-06-2011 20:55 EST, Post 49

  6. I just could not fathom using that stuff. If I were to be massively big, I'd want to be massively strong..not just toting around oil infused bulk. I was unaware of the numer of injections it takes..blah.

    I could see in the touch-up categorey if you had an imbalance caused by an injury or other defect, but these guys with gigantic arms and stuff just look ridiculous to me.

  7. The thing that got me reading up on it was when ALR said something in one of the CME books about MRI's showing that long term users had essentialy "filled up the gap" in the stretched fascia's with actual muscle growth.

    I dont know anyone who has claimed to have that happen though. So it's one of those things where there isnt much evidence to prove it, and the only real way to find out is to make a guinea pig out of yourself.

    But even if that IS true, Im still aprehensive about the possibility of stretching the fascia in some wierd direction that ends up permanently mishaping the muscle.

    Maybe science will come up with a better site enhancing method in our lifetime. One that causes real muscle growth, that lasts, and looks normal. I read a Patrick Arnold article where he was talking about some seaweed derivative or something. When I saw the title I was like "wtf?" but he made it sound about 100 x's better then synthol, and supposedly the growth is muscle hypertrophy and not oil or inflamation.
    But he said it would probably be a couple years before it hit's the U.S. market (or U.S. BLACK market as the case may be.)


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