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[7 min read] ‘Botched’ dermal fillers cause 200 cases of blindness

If you are considering offering cosmetic injectables in your practice, it is crucial that you have adequate training and experience before delivering these services to your patients. This was highlighted by a recent review which reported 200 cases of blindness after ‘botched’ dermal fillers – a 94 per cent increase globally.

The popularity of cosmetic procedures is dramatically increasing, with Australians now spending over $1 billion on enhancements each year – 40 per cent more per capita than Americans. Many Australians mistakenly believe that injectable procedures are simple beauty treatments – as commonplace as getting a facial – and fail to understand the risks involved. However, complications can occur, and reports of ‘botched’ procedures and the use of imported, illegal products are on the rise in Australia.

In April 2018, a 30-year-old woman from Melbourne went blind from an anti-wrinkle injection she received at a laser clinic. The woman (who remained anonymous) reportedly had one brief Skype chat with a doctor before undergoing the procedure, and wasn’t told of the side effects or potential outcomes of the long-term treatment.

Published in the journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the new report’s findings are being used to encourage patients to seek reputable, trained medical professionals when undergoing cosmetic procedures. But the findings should also serve as a reminder for clinicians about the importance of receiving appropriate medical training if they want to safely and confidently perform injectable treatments.

Unfortunately, the substances being injected into patients are also partially to blame for ‘botched’ outcomes. Imported, illegal products are becoming increasingly popular as people seek DIY alternatives to save money. This problem has been heightened by the number of people offering cosmetic injectables such as dermal fillers in casual settings like shopping malls, at the hairdresser, and even at informal ‘Botox parties’.

Patients must have a consultation with a medical doctor before undergoing any injectable treatment so that their medical history can be considered. This is because the adverse side effects of poorly performed injectable treatments don’t just look bad; they can also cause long-term, serious conditions including blindness.

Any clinician injecting dermal fillers needs to be aware of the veins and arteries around the head and neck. This includes the supratrochlear artery, dorsal nasal and supraorbital arteries. This is because if any filler is injected in such a way that it blocks this blood supply, a whole array of problems can occur. Many unregistered practitioners may not be fully trained to identify and understand the flow of blood and the areas to avoid. This means that poorly calculated injection can cause serious and dangerous health problems including blindness.

Despite the risks, Australians still spent $350 million on Botulinum toxin injections alone in the last year.

It is hoped that the new report will encourage patients to seek reputable medical professionals for cosmetic injectable treatments, and that clinicians will consider whether their level of training and experience is appropriate before delivering these services in their practice.

Read more recent research.

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