Hamilet Suarez, 37, was found in cardiac arrest at Areli's Beauty Salon on Wednesday. Investigators say they also found controlled substances and medical devices in the treatment room operated by massage therapist Sandra Perez Gonzalez, who has been arrested.
"I was shocked and saddened, but not really surprised," said Erick Aguilar, Los Angeles County deputy health officer.
Aguilar, who is with the Health Authority Law Enforcement Task Force (HALT), says county investigators are finding illicit cosmetic treatment centers in places you wouldn't imagine, such as shoe stores, pet shops and party supply stores.
For example, at a party supply store in East Hollywood, investigators found tools for cosmetic surgery behind the piñatas and paper goods.
According to Long Beach detectives, Gonzalez had advertised that she provided lip and butt augmentation as well as what are called vampire facelifts, which uses the patient's own blood to plump the face.
Dr. John Di Saia, an Orange County plastic surgeon, says it's dangerous. He describes how injectables can be fatal.
"It is very easy, if you don't know what you're doing with the needle, to inject into one of these vessels, and this substance finds its way to the heart, it blocks the heart's function. The heart is a pump, and without that function, we arrest," said Di Saia. "The wrong person with a needle can be just as lethal as a gangster with a gun.
Investigators say treatments by a licensed doctor can be pricey, so patients often look for a bargain. Officials say if the person only accepts cash, that's another red flag.
An autopsy will determine Suarez's cause of death and whether it was related to any treatment she received from Gonzalez.