AS coronavirus lockdown eases, the demand for cosmetic treatments has picked up once again.
But, these horrific pictures might make you think twice before you let someone near your face with a needle.
From black rotting flesh to hard, lumpy lips and nasty bacterial infections, doctors warn nasty complications from fillers can leave women permanently disfigured.
Yet in most cases women are not told of these horrific side-effects.
Last night’s episode of The Truth About Cosmetic Treatments on BBC One, medical journalist Michael Mosley teamed up with blogger and journalist Mehreen Baig to scrutinise the science and safety of cosmetic treatments – and put them to the test.
It comes after The Sun’s Fabulous brand launched the Had Our Fill campaign, to crackdown on rogue traders and raise awareness of the dangers facing women.
Leading expert, consultant plastic surgeon, Niall Kirkpatrick – who specialises in correcting botched filler ops – warns people are at risk of rotting tissue, horrific infections – even blindness, with estimates that 200 people have lost their sight after having fillers.
He told The Sun: “There is a long list of complications that can occur from filler injections and almost all of patients who come to see me with problems were never advised that these could occur to them.”
Most of his patients don’t even know what was injected into their skin, which “makes it trickier if things go wrong”, he added.
“Often it can be very difficult to find out what fillers have been injected into patients because the clinics do not keep appropriate clinical records.”
Here, with Mr Kirkpatrick’s expertise, we reveal just some of the horror complications uncovered in medical case reports…
1. Rotting flesh
One of the most serious complications of botched cosmetic fillers is rotting, necrotic flesh.
Mr Kirkpatrick, who is also a spokesperson for the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS), told The Sun: “Injections into arteries and veins can cause tissues to die.”
If too much is injected, or it’s put into the wrong place, it can put pressure on the arteries and cut off the blood supply, which ultimately can cause the affected tissue or organ to die.
The area that’s most commonly affected is the glabella – the smooth part of the forehead above and between the eyebrows – due to the number of tiny blood vessels.
HAD OUR FILL CAMPAIGN
BRITAIN’S Botox and filler addiction is fuelling a £2.75billion industry.
The wrinkle-busting and skin plumping treatments account for 9 out of 10 cosmetic procedures.
50% of women and 40% of men aged 18 to 34 want to plump up their pouts and tweak their faces.
Fillers are totally unregulated and incredibly you don’t need to have ANY qualifications to buy and inject them.
83% of fillers are performed by people with no medical training, often in unsanitary environments – with devastating results.
Women have been left with rotting tissue, needing lip amputations, lumps and even blinded by botched jobs.
Despite the dangers, there is no legal age limit for dermal filler, which is why Fabulous has launched Had Our Fill, a campaign calling for:
fillers to be made illegal for under 18s
a crackdown on social media sites plugging fillers
a Government-backed central register for practitioners with accredited qualifications
We’re working in conjunction with Save Face and are backed by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), British Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS) and British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS).
We want anyone considering a non-surgical cosmetic treatment to be well-informed to make a safe decision.
We’ve Had Our Fill of rogue traders and sham clinics – have you?
Another region that is popular for fillers but equally as risky is the nasolabial fold, commonly known as “smile lines” or “laugh lines”.
It’s close to one of the main facial arteries and complications here can cut off bloody supply to the side of the nose.
In one shocking case, a 52-year-old woman suffered a horrific reaction after having hyaluronic acid fillers in her nasolabial fold.
Injections into arteries and veins can cause tissues to die… Some people develop chronic pain and even if the filler dissolves away later the lips can be left permanently stretched
Niall KirkpatrickConsultant Plastic Surgeon And BAPRAS Spokesman
According to an article published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, her symptoms started around 15 hours later.
Her skin was red, painful and starting to turn purple, plus it also felt tender every time her heart beat.
Within 48 hours she had a nasty, yellow infection and the skin was starting to die.
She ended up in hospital where medics treated her with hyaluronidase, which breaks down the filler, and a number of antibiotics to take the infection down.
In another case, a 61-year-old woman was having filler in her cheeks to correct craters left from acne scars.
But she also suffered a delayed onset reaction which blocked the blood flow to the area.
In another similar case (also pictured above) a 52-year-old man was left with extensive flesh rot after having filler injected into his right cheek to treat acne scars.
According to the case report, the procedure had been carried out by a plastic surgeon and was part of a series of treatments he’d been having.
FILLERS BY NUMBERS
£2.75bn – estimated value of UK’s non-surgical cosmetic industry
59% – 13 to 24-year olds see lip fillers as routine as getting a haircut or manicure
68% – young people say friends have had fillers
160 – different types of dermal filler available for use in Europe, compared to only 10 in the US where they have tighter regulations
1,617 – complaints received by Save Face last year regarding unregistered practitioners
1.2m posts for #lipfillers on Instagram
3.9m – Google searches for ‘lip fillers’ in UK last year
40% – 13 to 19-year-olds say images on social media cause them to worry about body image
He had bluish discoloration and pain in the first several hours but attributed it to ‘‘normal bruising” however when the pain continued he went back to the clinic five days later.
A physical examination showed that the skin on his cheek was starting to severely rot as the main facial artery may have been compressed or blocked during the injection.
He was treated with antibiotics and antiviral medications and with early intervention surgeons were able to prevent any major damage.
But at least five months on, the man still had a large, noticeable scar on his cheek and had to avoid sunlight.
2. Lumpy lips
Painful, hard lumps – known as granulomas – can be another rare but devastating complication of dermal fillers.
They’re a cluster of cells which form together in response to an infection or inflammation.
Granulomas can develop months, even years after having filler injected, Mr Kirkpatrick told The Sun.
“Over time, sometimes years later, people can produce reactions to the filler materials producing these hard, painful lumps, which can be very difficult and expensive to remove,” he warned.
At first they can be soft but over time they can harden and become calcified.
What are fillers?
DERMAL fillers are a popular cosmetic procedure where substances are injected into the body for different aesthetic purposes.
Fillers are normally made from hyaluronic acid – a naturally occurring compound in the skin.
The acid stores moisture, making skin look more hydrated and plump.
When it’s injected as a gel-like substance, it integrates into skin and draws moisture into the tissue, creating volume.
Fillers are commonly used to enhance facial features by making sharper cheekbones, stronger jawlines or bigger lips, but they can be used all over the body – they’re even used in penis enlargement treatments.
The effects of fillers usually last between six and 18 months depending on where they’ve been used on the body.
Fillers are different to Botox, which blocks nerve signals in the muscles where it’s injected to restrict movement and prevent ‘expression lines’.
They are most likely to occur after injection with products that either do not biodegrade completely or only partially biodegrade.
In the case pictured above, a 50-year-old woman developed a growing, hard nodule in the bottom right of her lip 10 years after having lip fillers.
According to the article, published in Clinical Case Reports, surgeons removed the lump and discovered it was a foreign body granuloma (FBG).
The authors explained that there are many possible causes of early and late granuloma formulation, but the amount of filler can be one.
Another is impurities within the filler substance or a development from infection unrelated to the filler site.
Either way, they can be painful, unsightly and expensive to have removed.
3. Horror infections
As with any injection, there is the risk of infection if hygiene standards are not upheld, Mr Kirkpatrick warned.
“Chronic infections can lead to very disfiguring scarring,” he told The Sun.
“Some people develop chronic pain and a lot of people have the filler injected in such a way that the natural contours of the lips or face are lost making them look unnatural.
“Even if the filler dissolves away later the lips can be left permanently stretched.”
Early signs of nasty bacterial infections – usually in the first few weeks – include red, painful or tender nodules, which can usually be treated with antibiotics.
But anything after this point is considered a delayed infection and is much more serious.
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It often presents as a tender, red, warm nodule that may fluctuate, while the patient may also feel generally unwell.
Mr Kirkpatrick said: “Untrained and unqualified injectors are less likely to understand the need for aseptic techniques, leading to a higher risk of acute infection.”
Infections will usually need to be drained and the bacteria completely removed surgically as well as a course of antibiotics.