Anyone Can Do Lip Fillers, But Do You Want Just Anyone Doing Them?

Today in our GP corner we discuss some of the issues around dermal fillers and our focus is on lip fillers.

Dr Sloan says: “anyone can buy dermal fillers online and inject them into someone. There is no law in the UK to prevent this practice from happening.”

We are focusing on lip fillers as Dr Sloan has developed an interest in filler complications. At The Sloan Clinics, she is seeing a huge rise in people with lip fillers that have been incorrectly injected or with complications as a result of lip fillers they have received elsewhere.

As a GP in A&E and in her role as dermal filler expert injector at The Sloan Clinics she has had patients present in distress in both of her fields of practice with infections, vascular complications and poor results. She has been able to treat them accordingly.

“It’s really distressing for people who have paid for a treatment which they have been looking forward to, or saved up their hard-earned wages to have, which has subsequently not gone well. Some of them have told me that when they have tried to report a problem to their injector, they have been blocked!
It makes me more determined to help them, and they are so grateful for the help that I can give.”

Dr Sloan reports: “Sadly, things are more likely to go wrong in inexperienced hands, and when things go wrong, that practitioner does not have the tools, skills or knowledge to correct them”

Sadly, things are more likely to go wrong in inexperienced hands, and when things go wrong, that practitioner does not have the tools, skills or knowledge to correct them.

There are many cases of celebrities where they have had dermal filler disasters. Many of you may recall Tulisa Contostavlos, the x-factor judge and singer who gained more media attention for her lip filler complication then around the appearance she had in court!

Dr Sloan says “I see lots of people with these ‘duck face lips’ or ‘trout pout’ where injectors have either used the wrong type of filler (such as a thick product) or injected too much or incorrectly placed the filler. I have to dissolve the whole lot and start again building up the lips again in stages to get the best results.”

Sometimes practitioners over inject the lips which can cause the lips not to function properly. Myomodulation is a new concept that Dr Sloan teaches on her training days in Harley Street, where overfilling tight compartments of the face such as the lips can alter muscle function. This means that patients may not be able to articulate their words or even hold food in their mouths due to the effects of the excessive amount of filler.

Dr Sloan adds “I would be very cautious about going to an injector who agrees or tries to sell you more than 1ml in a single treatment appointment. They don’t understand the negative consequences this could have, and the risks involved such as vascular compromise.”

The other big issue is the cleanliness of the clinic. Infection is a risk when using needles and every step needs to be taken to reduce the risk of infection. Injectors need knowledge around how to recognise infection and treat it if it occurs. Can your injector safely diagnose a viral or bacterial infection and prescribe the correct treatment in the event of this occurring? These are the kind of questions we need to ask before seeking out the right person for the job.

One of the more serious complications of dermal fillers is vascular occlusion. This is where an injector has injected the product into an artery or next to an artery which has prevented blood getting to its destination in the face. As a result, if not recognised and treated quickly and effectively, long term unsightly tissue and skin death can occur. IF this happens then surgery and skin grafting maybe the only option.

Dr Sloan comments “really good anatomical knowledge and safe injection techniques can reduce the risk of vascular events occurring. In the unlikely event they do occur then it is so important that they are managed quickly and effectively to restore blood flow to the skin.”

Dr Sloan’s top tips for selecting an injector to treat your lips with lip fillers:

1) Always know your injector– check their credentials. Some will tell you that they have been doing injections for longer than they really have- check their training certificates and see when they were actually trained.
2) Be suspicious if you see an injector heavily advertising cheap “bargain” fillers or doing lots of discounts and competitions. Ask yourself why they need to do this and where they may be cutting their costs to drop their prices so low (e.g. sharing syringes between two clients, buying filler online from unscrupulous companies)
3) Make sure they are fully insured- this will protect you as you can claim on their insurance if things do go wrong. Otherwise you will be left to pay any costs.
4) Make sure the practice is in a clinical space, do they have emergency equipment and training – do they have adrenalin, hyalase and the emergency protocols in a visible place?
5) Have they been suitably trained and are they are registered healthcare practitioner?
6) Expect a detailed medical consultation. They should be asking about your health, allergies and medications
7) Consent forms should outline the risks and each risk explained to you
8) Before and After photos should be taken- and copies given to you on request
9) Take notes – especially the injectors name, and which type of filler they use, ask them how they handle complications and check they are confident at managing them.
10) Ask to see the packaging of the filler and see them open the product packaging, make a note of the product name for your records.
11) Book your review appointment when you have your initial treatment, time it for two weeks after the lip filler appointment. This means you will get the aftercare you need.