South Shields woman feared 'losing lips' after botched filler

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image captionEmma said her lips were "throbbing, pulsing and black"

A woman has told how she feared "losing" her lips after getting a botched filler injection which cut off the blood supply to her face.

Emma, from South Shields, got the lip injection in July from a woman on social media. At that point facial treatments were banned due to lockdown.

She said the woman hit an artery and her lips swelled up "like a golf ball".

As the law stands, practitioners who do "non-invasive" cosmetic procedures do not need qualifications.

image copyrightSue Young
image captionEmma said she has lip fillers to plump her lips to feel more "confident"

Emma, not her real name, told BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour she had the injection "to boost her confidence" at the woman's flat as her usual clinic was closed during lockdown.

She said: "My lip swelled to the size of a golf ball. It was throbbing, pulsing, black. The woman (who carried out the procedure) just said 'you're going to bruise really bad'. I knew it wasn't bruising.

"Later my face was going purple all the way up the side of my nose. My skin was losing the blood supply all the way up the side of my face - the whole artery was blocked."

She said if it had happened to someone having the procedure for the first time, they may have accepted the explanation that it was a bruise, not got help and "lost their lips".

Emma also said that it did not "even cross her mind" not to get the treatment during lockdown.

She then contacted an aesthetic nurse, Sue Young based in South Shields, who managed to dissolve the filler, but said necrosis, where the skin "dies" due to loss of blood supply, had already set in.

image copyrightPA Media
image captionPeople who perform "non-invasive" cosmetic procedures do not need qualifications

Ms Young said: "There was loss of blood supply to the lip and also the main facial artery that goes up the side of the nose.

"We can dissolve the filler in minutes but she was very lucky she came to us in time.

"I was extremely worried because once that skin has actually died because of loss of blood supply, then it goes black and sloughs away - that had started with this lady. I was very concerned for her."

She said that in extreme cases botched fillers can lead to blindness as the facial artery is connected to the retinal artery.

Ms Young said they massaged the area to try and break down the filler, and also used an injection of solution to dissolve it.

image captionCosmetic nurse Sue Young was able to quickly dissolve the filler with another injection

New figures show that aesthetic doctors and nurses are treating more women after untrained practitioners have injected fillers.

The British Association of Cosmetic Nurses (BACN) surveyed 300 of its members and found 40% had rectified problems over the last year.

It is calling for greater regulation of the industry and for people to require training.

BACN spokeswoman Sharon Bennett said when procedures go wrong, people sometimes do not know where to turn.

She said: "The government has been looking into this for a very long time and sceptically I think this is an economic decision by them not to move forward.

"They need to accept these are medical treatments and should only be in the hands of medical professionals.

"This is a medical procedure, prosthetic gel is being put deep in people's faces. You need an understanding of anatomy and physiology."

image captionNadine Dorries said the government was looking at regulating the sector

Patient safety minister Nadine Dorries said: "I am committed to ensuring the safety of patients undergoing cosmetic procedures, including ensuring practitioners are able to access the highest quality training and making sure people have the information they need.

"Too many women are being left scarred and traumatised after having injectables - particularly fillers - and anyone considering cosmetic procedures should ensure they are using a reputable, safe and qualified practitioner.

"I know there is more to do - we are working closely to explore the regulation of premises, practitioners, products and consumer safeguards for cosmetic interventions, particularly adequate safeguards and regulation of practitioners who perform some of the more invasive cosmetic procedures, including a system of registration or licensing."

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