They’re the quick, easy and relatively affordable touch-ups you can fit into your schedule with little to no downtime, so it’s no wonder cosmetic injections have increased remarkably in popularity in recent years.
Whether it’s dermal fillers to fill out the tissue under the skin to eliminate wrinkles or augment areas such lips for a more voluminous look, or muscle relaxants to reduce or prevent the appearance of wrinkles, demand is booming.
And naturally as demand has increased for such treatments, so too has supply, and therein lies the potential danger. The many clinics and facilities that perform these procedures are of varying quality. Any cosmetic procedure – no matter how large or small – has risks, and you need to be aware how to best minimise your own risk if you are considering having work done.
Reducing your risks
The number one way to reduce risk is to have any procedure performed by a properly qualified medical practitioner at an approved facility.
“At Breast & Body Clinic, cosmetic procedures are performed by a trained surgeon, with a full understanding of the underlying anatomy and potential complications, as well as their management” – says Dr Michael Yunaev, Oncoplastic, Breast & Cosmetic Surgeon.
In August last year, a 35-year-old woman went into cardiac arrest while undergoing a procedure – admittedly not an injection – by a non-qualified practitioner, tragically passing away two days later.
And while that is the worst-case scenario, plenty can still go wrong if steps are not taken to minimise risk. Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons president Prof Mark Ashton told Mama Mia last year that a dermal filler improperly injected can cause irreversible blindness. There have been more than 100 such cases worldwide.
For example, if mistakenly injected into the facial artery, the filler will go straight to the eye where it blocks the blood supply to the retina, killing it. And while such a scenario is very uncommon, the best way to mitigate the risk is by having the injections done by a trained professional.
The Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons recommends that patients look for evidence of appropriate and significant training when visiting a clinic for a cosmetic injection procedure. The professional who will be performing the treatment should be able to explain the vascular anatomy of the face and how they would prevent a complication.
Tissue in other parts of the face can also undergo what is known as “tissue death”, though early enough intervention, using a substance called Hyalase, can reverse the damage. Blindness from retina death, however, cannot be reversed.
Other, less serious consequences from procedures can include drooping if a muscle relaxant is injected into the wrong area, infections if antiseptic is not applied to the skin prior to injections, lumps and bruising.
Your safety first
Cosmetic injections, if administered by expertly trained hands, are an effective tool for a refreshed look, that leaves the skin looking renewed and youthful. As always, the best way to reduce your risk of complications from cosmetic injections is to be well-informed. Check that your practitioner is registered, qualified and trained for your procedure. Visiting a specialist surgeon, accredited by the Australian Medical Council, is always your best bet.
Quiz the practitioner beforehand about their facial knowledge, and of the danger zones on the face where an errant injection is to be avoided. If you’re not confident about them, don’t proceed.
Research the facility where you plan to undergo the injections and ensure it is registered and has a good reputation. Ensure that the products to be used are Therapeutic Goods Administration approved. Ensure the clinic or facility has an adequate stock of Hyalase should anything go wrong.
Don’t rush into having any procedure. Take your time to think about the risks and weigh them up. It’s important to remember that while cosmetic injections are commonly known as non-invasive – they may not require surgery as such, but no procedure is risk-free.
Finally, on the day of your procedure, maintain your vigilance. Make sure the practitioner is wearing gloves. Make sure your injection comes from a brand-new, sealed packet. Make sure antiseptic is rubbed into the skin prior to the injection to guard against infection. Importantly, make sure that practitioner delivers small doses using a continuously moving needle.
No cosmetic result is worth placing yourself under unnecessary risk. Fortunately, if you remember to take these steps, you will minimise your risk significantly and increase your chance of the best possible result.
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