I GREW A HORN AFTER COSMETIC SURGERY
A WOMAN who developed a “horn” on her forehead and another whose face was “eaten by bacteria” are among bungles engulfing the booming cosmetic industry.
One of the victims now requires surgery to cut her face from ear to ear and peel back her forehead to remove fillers that have left her with a misshapen face.
The other has been on antibiotics for more than a year and has had surgery four times, costing $25,000.
New research by Macquarie University plastic surgeon Professor Anand Deva has linked cosmetic filler procedures to chronic infections that take years to control, leaving victims disfigured. Doctors have warned poor procedures can cause cell death, blindness, loss of sensation and the inability to smile or clean teeth.
The revelations follow the death in Sydney last month of Jean Huang, 35, while having fillers injected into her breasts.
With Australians spending more than $1 billion a year on cosmetic procedures, Prof Deva has accused the industry of pursuing profits at the expense of patient safety. He wants a register to keep track of the fillers used and the doctors who do the procedures.
One woman, who wants to be known only as Ms Thornton, said her life has been a “nightmare” after a plastic surgeon injected filler into her face in 2003. Within six months she had developed major lumps and infected nodules.
“I was in a hospital not some backyard clinic,” Ms Thornton, 50, said.
“He didn’t say there was any chance nodules could develop. He said I had a reaction and wanted to give me a steroid injection that would have left me with pitted skin.”
In 2014 a surgeon tried to remove the nodules through her mouth but couldn’t get them all.
While the original treatment cost $500, attempts to repair the damage have so far cost more than $8000.
A 47-year-old Sydney woman said she “lost her face” when she developed an infection after she had permanent filler and platelet-rich plasma injected into her face.
Within days a small pink dot developed where she had received the treatment and her face became swollen and red.
The cosmetic doctor refused to see her again. She said: “No one would accept me, they directed me to emergency.”
Her face has lost its symmetry and she has had four operations to drain the infection, as well as spending a year on antibiotics.
“I had a pretty face. I lost my face; I lost the left side of my face,” she said.
She is now having fat removed from her stomach and injected into her face to rebuild it and requires extensive laser treatment to remove scars.
Prof Deva, whose research found many fillers supported bacteria growth, said: “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 com- pletely unregulated providers.
“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’.”
He wants fillers treated as if they are surgical implants.
Doctors and clinics should be required to note the type of filler used so infection risk and troublesome products could be tracked, he said. And he wants manufacturers to refuse to sell their products to doctors who won’t agree.
Allergan, one of the companies that manufactures the fillers, said it would welcome any initiative or tool that improved patient outcomes.