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The ugly truth behind DIY face fillers; Dear Miriam.


It's scary that women are buying dodgy anti-ageing filler treatments on the internet to save money trying to look younger.

Thankfully, the Government now wants better regulation of the British cosmetic industry to deal with this growing trend in DIY facial fillers - where the customers have to inject themselves.

In the meantime, this stuff is frighteningly easy to get hold of. After a quick Google search I found tens of internet sites selling such products from around pounds 50 - and offering detailed advice on how to self-inject them.

The sites were littered with testimonials from supposedly happy customers saying things like "I could see the results immediately - I will definitely buy again."

How the kits work

Facial filler kits contain a cream to numb the area, a medical needle and a vial of skin-plumping agent such as collagen or hyaluronic acid. They're used to fill out wrinkles, sunken cheeks and lips.

It sounds simple enough perhaps, but fillers are an incredibly tricky treatment to get right - even for someone fully trained and with years of experience.

A job for the professionals?

I've witnessed fillers being injected into a face by a doctor in a reputable clinic, and I can tell you it's not easy or pain-free by any stretch of the imagination. The needle is big and tends to hurt, despite the anaesthetising cream, as it's injected pretty deeply under the skin.

It's skilled work and could be incredibly dangerous in the hands of somebody who is not trained.

The very idea of a woman looking in the mirror while injecting a substance into her own face fills me with horror.

To get it right, you need to know facial anatomy inside out, including exactly where each muscle, nerve and artery lies. An injection in the wrong place can lead to long-lasting damage.

The government is working to improve regulation of the British cosmetic industry to try and stop this happening but I think they should go one step further and put injunctions on all websites selling DIY fillers.

A costly mistake

I fear that women are lured in by the bargain prices but bear in mind that the cost of correcting a treatment that goes wrong could run into thousands.

You wouldn't attempt to do your own home plumbing without training so why assume you can self-teach the skills of a cosmetic surgeon in five minutes?

You're risking the very thing you want to enhance and could end up disfigured - and while you can always get a tap fixed, a new face isn't so easy...

Real risks

Here are just a few of the nasty side effects if DIY filler treatments go wrong...

You could end up lopsided

It takes surgeons years to learn how to inject the exact same amount of filler into the exact same place on both sides, so the chances are you won't be able to.

You could be poisoned

As there are no safeguards, the substance you're buying and injecting could be low grade or even impure and contain unlicensed or dangerous ingredients.

You could end up looking lumpy

Sometimes collagen injections result in lumpy skin, which is impossible to treat, leaving people permanently disfigured.

You could give yourself a stroke

If you accidentally inject into the wrong place and hit an artery, you could potentially trigger a stroke.

You could cause nerve damage

Most of us don't know where the nerves run in the face - hit the wrong one and you could trigger a form of Bell's palsy and end up paralysing part of your face.

You could get an infection

Self-injecting, especially without medical supervision, can easily cause a nasty infection which could lead to facial scarring.

You may use the wrong dose

Even if you follow the instructions, it's easy to end up injecting too little or too much into your face.

You could risk your health

Most of these treatments have no long-term safety data so, in a few years, you could find out they have dangerous side effects you weren't aware of. Do you really want to be a guinea pig?

You have no redress if things go wrong

Internet sellers are based in many different countries, or are anonymous and impossible to track down, so you have no chance of getting your money back let alone claiming compensation if you end up disfigured.

Don't try this at home

There are other cheap home beauty treatments you may be tempted to buy on the net which have dreadful side effects. In my opinion you should avoid...

Home Botox: You can buy a DIY Botox kit for as little as pounds 65. But without medical training and an expert knowledge of the muscles in the face, avoid this at all costs. Aside from purity concerns, you could end up with a lopsided face or droopy eyes.

Fat jabs: Another kind of product readily available at the click of a mouse, these unlicensed "fat-melting" jabs are full of wild promises to shift unwanted flab. They haven't been tested properly and at best may be useless or at worst could contain dangerous ingredients.

Skin lighteners: Banned skin-lightening creams containing super-strength bleaches can easily be found on the net from anonymous sellers. Side effects can include scarring and disfigurement.

Teeth bleaching: The pursuit of a Hollywood smile can result in more pain than gain. Home-bleaching kits, which include a tray and peroxide gel, can lead to mild or moderate tooth sensitivity. And some users have even ended up in casualty with severe pain and burnt gums.

Tanning jabs: A worrying number of women craving bronzed skin have been buying "tan jabs" over the net and self-injecting. The jabs contain a synthetic hormone which boosts the body's production of melanin and darkens skin. But I would strongly advise against using these products as their safety is currently unknown.

DIY facial peels: Even when performed at a reputable salon, skin-smoothing chemical peels can go horribly wrong, as it's very difficult to judge how deeply the treatment will penetrate into different skins. A bad chemical peel can lead to permanent scarring, so doing it yourself at home is just not worth the risk.
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Copyright 2009 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 24, 2009
Previous Article:ADVICE; Dear Miriam.

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