Surgeons have reported a dramatic rise in botched skin filler procedures leaving women with lifelong disfigurement. Exclusive research carried out for the Daily Mail reveals the hidden toll of complications from the treatment, marketed as a non-surgical means to achieve younger-looking skin. Some 70 per cent of Britain’s plastic surgeons have seen patients with problems resulting from temporary skin fillers. In addition, half of surgeons reported seeing patients with more serious complications from permanent fillers, which can rupture in the body. Of these, 84 per cent required corrective surgery or were deemed untreatable due to the damage caused.
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In 2009, just one in four had seen botched procedures from the treatment. Experts described skin fillers, which are unregulated and can be administered by anyone who has completed a half-day course, as a ‘ticking time bomb’ which could have similar consequences to the scandal surrounding PIP implants. Fillers are used to plump up the skin, to fill in wrinkles and crows’ feet, create fuller cheeks and pouting lips. Once the preserve of the rich and famous, they have soared in popularity as their costs have dropped. They are available on discount websites for as little as £150, with many products coming from China where they will not have undergone safety checks.
Temporary fillers, the most commonly used, are usually made of an acid, which is found naturally in the human body, while permanent fillers are riskier because they are made of a synthetic material, similar to breast implants, which can be removed only by surgery. Side effects range from infections, swelling and bruising, to inflammation of the deeper skin tissue causing lumps and permanent scarring. In rare cases vision has been impaired by injecting near the eye.
Many of the plastic surgeons, who rarely administer fillers but see patients who experience problems, said they felt people were unaware of the risks involved. Concerns have also been raised about untrained hairdressers and beauticians injecting fillers. James Frame, a consultant and professor of aesthetic plastic surgery at Anglia Ruskin University, called for more rigorous training for practitioners and a crackdown on irresponsible advertising. He said: ‘The popularity of fillers has gone through the roof. If it goes wrong, you can get atrociously bad reactions. The site can become infected, or it can affect the deeper tissue. There was one case where it eroded a woman’s upper lip. ‘Many people who carry them out will not have knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of the face. Aesthetic plastic surgery should be a specialty in its own right with rigorous training.’
Concerns have been raised about untrained hairdressers and beauticians injecting fillers
Under EU legislation, fillers are not medicines but medical devices which require a only CE kitemark to be sold, meaning they meet the requirements of EU legislation and do not have to undergo scientific tests. The Government has launched an inquiry into the marketing of cosmetic procedures following the PIP scandal, led by NHS Medical Director Sir Bruce Keogh, which will include skin fillers. But the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons is pushing for tougher European standards for fillers to classify them as medicines as in the US.
Rajiv Grover, a consultant plastic surgeon and president of the association, which carried out the poll of 200 surgeons to which 60 responded, said: ‘We have been voicing concerns over the lack of regulation in this arena for years and I would be surprised if anyone was still able to maintain, in good conscience, that fillers should not be reclassified as medicines.’ A spokesman for the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said manufacturers of dermal fillers ‘must be able to provide evidence of the safety, quality and performance of their product before they can place it on the market’. He said the MHRA investigates all complaints but believes the current evidence is that they are safe for use if administered by a trained physician according to the manufacturers’ instructions.
Source: Daily Mail UK