Dis­fig­ure­ment Hideous toll of quest for beauty by cos­metic filler


A WOMAN has been left with a “horn” on her fore­head and an­other had her face eaten by bac­te­ria in the lat­est bun­gles in the boom­ing cos­metic in­dus­try.

New Mac­quarie Univer­sity re­search has linked cos­metic filler pro­ce­dures to se­ri­ous and chronic in­fec­tions that take years to con­trol and leave vic­tims dis­fig­ured.

One vic­tim now re­quires surgery in which her face will be cut from ear to ear and her fore­head peeled back to re­move filler that has left her with a mis­shapen face.

An­other has been on an­tibi­otics for more than a year and en­dured four surg­eries, cost­ing $25,000, to drain in­fec­tion and re­build her face.

Doc­tors are warn­ing poor pro­ce­dures can lead to chronic in­fec­tion, cell death, blind­ness, loss of sen­sa­tion and the in­abil­ity to smile or clean teeth.

A woman died in Syd­ney last month dur­ing a pro­ce­dure to in­ject fillers into her breasts.

Mac­quarie Univer­sity Plas­tic sur­geon Pro­fes­sor Anand Deva, whose re­search has linked cos­metic fillers to se­ri­ous bacterial in­fec­tion, ac­cuses the cos­metic in­dus­try of pur­su­ing prof­its at the ex­pense of pa­tient safety.

He wants an elec­tronic pa­tient reg­is­ter to keep track of the fillers used and the doc­tors who carry out the pro­ce­dures.

“We are fac­ing a per­fect storm in the cos­metic in­dus­try where de­mand is in­sa­tiable, driven by so­cial me­dia and celebri­ties, and it is be­ing met by com­pletely un­reg­u­lated providers,” he said. “We can ride the wave, the boom and make money and drive fancy cars or we can say this is still medicine and the health of peo­ple is at stake.”

Aus­tralians are now spend­ing more than $1 bil­lion a year on cos­metic pro­ce­dures.

One of the big­gest cos­metic chains, Laser Clin­ics, says it per­formed more than 2.7 mil­lion beauty treat­ments and treated 220,000 new clients in 2017. It was sold re­cently for more $650 mil­lion.

Pro­fes­sor Deva’s re­search tested the cos­metic fillers hyaluronic acid, poly­acry­lamide and poly-l-lac­tic acid and found they all sup­ported bac­te­ria growth.

Mul­ti­ple nee­dle passes or fan­ning of the nee­dle dur­ing the pro­ce­dure in­creased in­fec­tion risk, the re­search found.

The re­search re­ports on five pa­tients who de­vel­oped trou­ble­some in­fec­tions linked to the fillers which took years to re­solve and in­volved mul­ti­ple fol­low-up surg­eries cost­ing tens of thou­sands of dol­lars.

Pro­fes­sor Deva says the fillers must be reg­u­lated and treated as if they were a sur­gi­cal im­plant.

Doc­tors and clin­ics who use the prod­ucts should be re­quired to note the type of filler used on a spe­cial pass­port app on a pa­tient’s mo­bile phone so in­fec­tion risk and trou­ble­some prod­ucts can be tracked, he says.

Pro­fes­sor Deva wants man­u­fac­tur­ers of the fillers to refuse to sell their prod­ucts to doc­tors who won’t sign the pass­port.

Aus­tralian So­ci­ety of Plas­tic Sur­geons pres­i­dent Pro­fes­sor Mark Ash­ton said he was see­ing an in­creas­ing num­ber of pa­tients with prob­lems caused by fillers and wants state gov­ern­ments to tighten reg­u­la­tions around the in­dus­try.

“It is im­por­tant to recog­nise that there is no such thing as


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