By Dan Howlett @DanHowlett85
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Videographer / Director: Pedro Tavares
Producer: John Balson, Dan Howlett, Chloe Browne
Editor: Joshua Douglas, Kyle Waters
Romario Dos Santos Alves, 25, turned to a cocktail of oil, painkillers and alcohol to pump up his biceps - which were a staggering 25 inches at their biggest.
Now the former bodyguard terrifies children with his super-sized muscles and is facing a catalogue of serious health issues.
The married dad-of-one says his experiences of using the synthetic filler synthol cost him his sanity and nearly his life and he was even scheduled to have one of his arms amputated.
Romario said: “If you take it once there will definitely be a second time – it’s addictive.
“I remember the doctor told me that they would need to amputate both arms - they said everything in there, all my muscles, were rock.
“I want other people to see the dangers, I could have died all because I wanted bigger muscles. It’s just not worth it."
Romario became obsessed with the drug after moving from his hometown of Caldas Novas to Goiania in Brazil three years ago.
He said: “I saw some really big guys in the gym with huge arms and I started to make friends with them.
“They introduced me to synthol and I got excited about the results – I lost control.”
Romario began to find ever more dangerous ways of injecting himself with the oil.
“My muscles started to solidify and I couldn’t even inject my arms – they were full of rocks,” he added.
“I decided the only thing I could do was buy specialist needles to inject.
“The kind of needles used on bulls – there are no stronger needles around – I know it seems stupid but I had to get my synthol fix.”
He even tricked wife Marisangela Marinho, 22, into injecting him with the oil in places that he could not reach.
Romario said: “I told her there was no problem with it – that it left the body after a short time.”
But after she learned the truth she made it clear that he had to choose between their relationship and the synthol.
“She told me that if I start using synthol again or anything like it she will leave me because of what she went through,” added Romario.
“That was the hardest part of our life because I had depression and I was removed from my job because I tried to kill myself.”
Romario’s biceps had swollen to an incredible 25 inches but reactions from members of the public meant that his mental health deteriorated.
He said: “I was hospitalised in a clinic and my wife was six months pregnant – it was just me and her, no friends or family.
“I decided to fix my ways and I never again wanted to take any drugs, we went through a really hard time and almost starved.”
Soon the filler began causing Romario constant pain and he almost suffered kidney failure due to the toxins in the oil.
And he was told by a doctor that his only course of action would be to have one of his arms amputated.
“My wife was crying when I left at 5am to go to the hospital for the procedure,” he added.
“I remember the doctor told me that they would need to amputate both arms. They said everything in there, all my muscles, were rock.
“It was either that or cut all of my muscles out.
“And then thank God the doctor told me that they did not have to amputate – they could instead remove the synthol rocks which had formed in my arms.”
Now Romario’s bizarre appearance generates mixed reactions from people in his hometown.
He said: “One time I was working in a catholic church and a woman came up to me and said that her 12-year-old daughter wouldn’t come in because she was afraid of me.
“She said that she thought I was a beast, a monster – I just put my head down and didn’t say anything.
However, he also receives praise and adulation for his incredible physique - which made it even harder for him to kick the addiction.
He added: “One time when I was working as a bodyguard in a party the girls started to get wasted and were trying to take my shirt off to see my body.
“Sometimes kids will come up to me and say that I look like the Incredible Hulk and hug me and have their photo taken with me.
“I really like that as I modeled my body on the Incredible Hulk.”
Romario has not used the substance for two years but other muscle enhancing drugs still tempt him from time to time.
He added: “Two weeks ago I bought a substance called estigor – a horse hormone.
“I put the needle in my chest and sucked in the air to see if I got a vein but nothing came out. I froze and started to sweat.
“My mind started remembering things that I’ve gone through and I thought that I couldn’t do it – I couldn’t give in to temptation again.”
He still has ambitions to become a professional bodybuilder but is committed to staying clean.
He added: “I still feel like taking synthol but I won’t take it again. If you take it once there will definitely be a second time – it’s addictive.
“I regret it a lot – my ambition is still to become a bodybuilder but I’ve got a long way to go.
“I know I will achieve it though.”