With recent reports of women suffering complications due to cosmetic fillers, the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons unveil survey results detailing their top concerns regarding these popular non-surgical treatments.
The internal poll reveals the number of problem cases seen in the past year, how many patients needed surgery due to filler complications and lists the BAAPS’ concerns over unproven products being used in the UK.
Dermal fillers are injectible substances commonly used to target wrinkles and smooth or ?rejuvenate’ the skin. There are dozens of these on the market, some of which promise temporary effects and others permanent. By far the great majority of complications appear to be with permanent fillers, with a shocking quarter of surgeons actually having to perform surgery to correct problems stemming from their use. Newcomer Macrolane, a body contouring filler being touted as a ‘lunchtime boob job’, is also causing unease with one in ten surgeons having seen a staggering 10-12 patients with problems over the past year.
Two in five (38.5%) surgeons report seeing 1-3 patients in the past year that have experienced complications with permanent facial fillers (e.g. Bio-alcamid, Aquamid), whilst 4% of surgeons have seen between 4 and 6 patients, in the same period
Almost a quarter (23%) of surgeons reported that in the past year 1-3 patients actually required surgery to correct the complications caused by permanent fillers
In contrast, the great majority (81%) of surgeons reported no serious complications stemming from temporary fillers (e.g. Restylane, Juvederm). Only a fifth (19%) of surgeons reported up to 3% of their patients had complications due to these.
The survey also revealed that no BAAPS members had to perform surgery to rectify a complication due to temporary fillers.
The top 3 reasons BAAPS surgeons feel complications occur with temporary and permanent fillers are:
Unqualified practitioners are administering fillers incorrectly
Patients are unaware of the risks and side effects involved with the procedure
Lack of regulation has allowed unproven substances to be used in the UK.
Regarding body contouring fillers (e.g. Macrolane), almost a fifth (19%) of surgeons have seen between 1-3 patients in the past year and nearly one in ten (8%) reported seeing a staggering 10-12 patients that have experienced complications with this type of treatment.
Nearly all BAAPS members (96%) feel that when fillers go through the approval process, they should be treated as a medicine (as is done in the US with the FDA) and that the current approval process, in which fillers are treated as a medical device receiving a CE Mark, is inadequate.
The survey noted that any problems arising from temporary fillers, which are a much more popular choice than permanent ones, seemed mainly caused by unqualified practitioners administering the treatment incorrectly and not caused by the substance itself.
According to Nigel Mercer, consultant plastic surgeon and President of the BAAPS;
“I’m not surprised by the results of this survey as we have always voiced our concern over the lack of regulation in this area. The public must remember that just because they are non-surgical treatments, it doesn’t mean they’re non-medical and as such should always be administered by properly trained and qualified practitioners.”
Currently, the UK treats all cosmetic fillers as a medical ‘device’ that receives a CE mark for approval and 96% of BAAPS surgeons has stated they feel this approval process is not rigorous enough.
Rajiv Grover, consultant plastic surgeon and Honorary Secretary of the BAAPS, states;
“Europe has over 160 injectible fillers with a CE mark whereas in the US, the licensing authority (FDA) treats them with the same respect as full medicines and has approved only six. The public should be aware that no procedure is without risk. Although low-risk, temporary fillers can occasionally cause a temporary problem, it is clear that permanent fillers are causing many more permanent problems. You should choose your filler and practitioner carefully, to avoid being a human guinea pig.”
BAAPS Safety Checklist for Injectables:
– What specific filler (name of the product and what the filler is made of) is being used?
– How many years have you been administering this particular filler ? ie, ensure the practitioner is being specific to the filler being used, not just providing how long s/he has been using injectibles in general.
– How long has this filler been on the market and is it FDA approved?
– Lastly, ensure that you practitioner provides details on all the risks involved- if you are told the procedure is risk free, you may want to walk away as every cosmetic procedure, even if it’s non-surgical, carries an element of risk.