Former national newspaper journalist Pete Richardson takes a look at the latest story about fillers to hit the headlines and asks you to read between the lines.
First of all, let me say this, I’m all for great news stories and making the public aware of potential dangers to health – indeed I do some work with a charity aiming to safeguard public safety in aesthetics.
But when I was helping to choose the news that went in the paper all those years ago, I don’t think I’d have been overly excited if I’d have been presented with the following:
“I’m a dentist and three years ago I had lip fillers. They went blue and swelled up and went hard. Then I had the corrective procedure and it was all a couple of weeks later. But it cost me £700. Now I work at this brilliant clinic so you can come to me for lip filler treatments so you’ll be safe.”
It seems like a rather good advert for her clinic doesn’t it?
And how bad was the problem? What are “rock hard blue lumps” and how dangerous are they? And didn’t the hyaluronidase do what it it’s supposed to do – dissolve the filler?
So, what’s the story here?
Hard blue lumps are not nice and can cause distress and anxiety if their existence is a shock to the client, but they are hardly life threatening – unless I’m way off the mark and stand to be corrected.
The problem could have been the Tyndall Effect – that results in blue colour with poorly performed fillers. (It took me two minutes to Google and discover its not serious and that lip filler complications are rare). See below for some info from the-dermatologist.com.
But whatever it was we know it was sorted with a very simple procedure.
But let’s not allow the fact that this was not dangerous and was cured get in the way of the story.
“Woman has minor complication and is cured” is hardly a national newspaper headline.
If I was being cynical I could point out a few things other than the blatant advert for her clinic.
Isn’t this another example of scare-mongering on behalf of those seeking to control the multi-billion pound aesthetics industry in the UK?
And doesn’t she make some rather sweeping and unsubstantiated claims when she says: “The NHS shouldn’t have to be dealing with people going to A&E with complications like occlusions………….”
Just how many A&E departments are inundated with people with swollen lips from “botched fillers”? What are the official NHS figures for the number of patients seen with these problems?
She also says: “Beauticians don’t necessarily go through proper medical training…….” What does “don’t necessarily” mean?
Many do have proper training and know exactly how to deal with adverse effects like “Rock hard blue lumps”.
So, lets get real and have a proper sensible debate about the dangers of dermal fillers, the facts and figures.
If the biggest horror story is a three-year-old tale about a woman who suffered two weeks discomfort and then was cured for a fraction of a dentist’s salary and suffered no lasting effects, then we really are at risk of undermining some potentially valid arguments.
NOTE: From The-dermatologist.com “Complications with HA fillers are rare. One rare complication that has been reported with HA fillers is the development of blue papules and nodules in the area treated due to the Tyndall effect. The Tyndall effect occurs when HA fillers are inappropriately implanted into the superficial dermis or epidermis. The lesions appear blue because blue light waves have a higher frequency than red light waves and are more easily scattered. When light hits the surface of the skin with superficially placed HA particles, the particles cause the light waves to be reflected, and due to increased scatter, blue is the predominant colour that emerges.”

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