"Completely unregulated" skin filler injections could be the next PIP scandal say top surgeons


According to leading cosmetic surgeons, skin filler injections are "completely unregulated", with anyone who has finished a half-day course permitted to administer them.

Cosmetic Surgery Scandals

The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) said skin filler injections are a "timebomb": a situation so serious it could be the next cosmetic scandal after PIP breast implants, wherein 47,000 British women received implants composed of non-medical silicone.

The skin fillers, a gel-like substance which smooths out wrinkles and plumps cheeks, are becoming increasingly popular among women seeking facial features that are more sculpted and attractive.

While hairdressers and beauticians offer fillers for around £250 per session, the material is also easily available online for self-injection.

In a 2009 study, 1 in 4 cosmetic surgeons reported appointments with patients who had been poorly treated.

A former president of BAAPS said the rise in demand for skin fillers had been inexorable. "It is a ticking timebomb," Nigel Mercer said. "We believe [fillers] should be a prescription drug only injected by a doctor."

"We are contacted by patients who have ended up with unsightly lumps under the skin which can only be removed with surgery, people left with scars after one of their arteries was injected and people can even go blind if it is injected too close to the eye."

Most fillers contain substances such as collagen or hyaluronic acid, which occur naturally in the body. However, Mr Mercer said it is unclear what else is inside.

"There are reputable providers, but you see all the emails offering dermal fillers from China and we have no idea what they contain. You can make this stuff using a chemistry set."

In Britain, over 150 types of filler can be sold legally without safety checks. In the more heavily-regulated US, only 7 types have been licensed.

As well as better regulation of skin filler injections, BAAPS is also pressing for a crackdown on advertising facelifts and tummy tucks, saying they lure the young and the vulnerable into undergoing invasive plastic surgery.

In a 12-point plan submitted to the Advertising Standards Authority, the BAAPS called for a ban on celebrity-led billboard, magazine and online promotions aimed at under-18s.

Speaking at the association's annual meeting in London, the current president Fazel Fatah said: "Some providers take advantage of people who seek surgical treatments for psychological reasons, with unethical and very aggressive marketing and advertising."

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