By Danny Baggott @Dan_Baggie
Scroll down for the full story
After nine months of pumping mineral oil into his muscles, self-styled “bodybuilder" Romario Dos Santos Alves has finally said enough is enough as he looks to a happy future with his young child and his wife, Marisangela Marinho.
The 26-year-old, from Brazil, who modelled himself on the Incredible Hulk, has now been clean for five years and has no desire to return to his injecting ways.
Romario said: “My marriage and my wife is more important than vanity. I love my family life with my wife and my son.
“I’m thankful to God for putting them in my life so I could see life isn’t just about big muscles. There are more important things.”
Romario started to work out when he was 15, but after four years of training with no signs of improvement, he turned to unnatural substances as a quicker fix for getting bigger.
He said: “I watched the Hulk movie and thought he was so different.
“I wanted to get big, I didn’t want only to have a nice defined body, I wanted to be a big guy. I wanted to be a monster.
“So this gets you addicted – when you see the results you carry on. People thought my size was interesting and they liked it, I was shown respect.
“The feeling of power is priceless.”
But everything suddenly changed for Romario as he started to inject up to 4ml of mineral oil twice a week and in just nine months his arms grew by 20% to almost 20 inches in diameter.
“After a while my body started changing absurdly,” he said.
“People started to look at me a bit different. They were afraid. They were scared.”
And to make matters worse, Romario’s wife Marisangela had no idea what he was doing to his body.
She said: “I was very naïve about it”
“I thought it was only the exercises, supplements – nothing else. I was getting angry. So I told him – ‘look, I’ve already discussed this with you, it’s enough, but you don’t listen to me’.
“I said, ‘you stop, or I’m leaving.”
After eight months, Romario started to feel sick and had problems with both his breathing and energy levels.
Just a week later, Marisangela found out she was pregnant with their first child.
“When I discovered that my wife was pregnant with our first son - this was when I decided to stop for good,” Romario said.
“It affected my mind, as I was too obsessed. I had depression for four months, using prescribed medication to be able to get used to it, as I wasn’t well.”
Five years after Romario last injected himself, renowned plastic surgeon Dr Mendieta recently met with him to discuss his current condition.
He said: “Now there is no amputation needed for the arm, but it’s becoming such a big problem around the world. We’ve seen deaths from these products.
“All the substance can just suddenly start to ooze out of the biceps or triceps. It can become infected and it could spread to the entire body and then you could die.”
Romario was reduced to tears at this news, knowing he can now live without the fear of losing his arm completely.
“To be here today and hear that there isn’t anything serious, that I won’t lose my arm - the doctors gave me good news,” he said.
“These tears that are on my face today, this cry isn’t sadness, this isn’t a sad cry, it is happiness for knowing that I am fine and can continue with my life.
“I will never use this stuff again!”
Romario is appearing in 'Real Life Hulks’ at 10pm ET on TLC (USA only) on Monday 1 August.