By Marilyn Linton,QMI Agency
Photos of trout pout, pillow face and chipmunk cheeks – facial fillers gone wrong – dot the pages of celebrity and style magazines these days. But look around and you’ll also see these facial mishaps on non-celebs, ordinary people like you and me.
Easy access to facial fillers, a dizzying range of products, and the heady promise of eternal youth with no surgical downtime sound like heaven. But the message, say experts, is buyer beware!
A recent press release from the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons noted that two out of three surgeons are seeing botched filler procedures, some of them untreatable due to permanent damage.
And doctor bloggers are sounding the alarm: Worried about practice drift in which injectibles are administered by, well, who knows who, Illinois plastic surgeon Dr. Peter Johnson warns that injectibles are now offered at hairdressing salons and spas, that online discount coupons give the impression injectibles are no-brainers, and that “weekend courses to teach ‘injectionists’ abound.”
Injectibles are more complicated than they sound, agrees Dr. Vince Bertucci, a Toronto cosmetic dermatologist and board member of the Canadian Dermatology Association. In Canada 30 varieties of them are approved for use, and while the law states that injection must be under the supervision of a physician or nurse, he says that is not always the case. “There are people out there practicing medicine who are not physicians.”
Consumers need to make educated decisions – especially today when Botox isn’t the only game in town. Botox, that old favorite, blocks the release of nerve impulses to relax crow’s feet, brow lines and forehead wrinkles; hyaluronic-acid based fillers such as Restylane, fill in wrinkles or acne scars and plump up lips; and stimulatory fillers give your body’s natural collagen a boost to help sculpt your face.
But while these fillers are either absorbed by your body as they break down or simply wear off, other fillers made of microscopic beads mixed in a collagen base are permanent. The only way to remove these is “to cut them out,” says Dr. Bertucci.
He adds that in skilled hands, the risks of fillers is low. “But consumers should know if the person injecting is equipped to manage complications. Because even the best of the best have complications.” Impending necrosis and infections due to hypersensitivity may be rare, but they happen. Fillers injected improperly or unevenly can result in small lumps under the skin.
Fillers “help create shape and restore contours. They subtly restore facial features that time has taken away,” says Dr. Bertucci. But do your homework, he advises: Research, check credentials, and seek out skilled professionals. “Give Picasso a paintbrush and paint, and he creates a work of art,” he says. The same tools in someone else’s hands, maybe not so good.
Or as Australian cosmetic physician and blogger Dr. Naomi McCullum puts it: “Any patient who can afford a truckload of filler is at risk of getting a puffed out, freaky face.”
Smooth, fill and plump
- Botox is still the number one injectible with annual North American sales of over $1.6 billion.
- Filler injectibles are the second most common non-surgical cosmetic procedure in North America.
- In 2011, 1.9 million soft tissue filler treatments were done, and 5.7 million procedures with Botox.