Disastrous Results Reported From Illegal Internet Dermal Fillers and Botox
by Dr. Miguel Delgado
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) reports annually with the numbers of cosmetic surgery procedures and non-invasive procedures, which includes Botox and dermal fillers. The report states for 2013 that Botox remains in the number one position with 6.3 million injections. Dermal fillers are in second place with 2.2 million injections, an increase of 13% from 2012. These numbers would be much higher if they included illegal injections by non-professionals using illegal products, most of which have been purchased off the internet.
Medical practitioners, who are licensed, are the only ones that can purchase fillers that have been approved by the FDA. The FDA has been warning doctors and the public for years, but illegal sales online are increasing. Most doctors’ offices receive multiple offers for fillers and Botox every day via emails and fax machines. It is not unusual for doctors to get calls from potential patients asking if they can bring in their own product for injection. Reputable physicians and authorized medical injectors know to refuse such requests as the material most likely has been obtained illegally, and the content will remain unknown. The people who market these products are very clever, using names that may be similar to legitimate products or a cute, catchy name. Many are shipped from other countries and may be non-sterile or contain toxic materials.
Legitimate manufacturers do not sell their fillers on the internet. There are many innocent consumers who think they are going to save hundreds of dollars by purchasing these products online. Some online products come with injection kits leading to disastrous results of untrained people injecting unknown fillers. Plastic surgeons and dermatologist are seeing huge increases in the number of patients seeking them out for correction of these injections; some injections have caused horrific infections and in some cases even blindness. Sadly, the patient that was hoping to save a few hundred dollars is now investing thousands for reconstructive procedures.
Doctors are not required but are requested to report such cases to the FDA and their State Medical Board, but many do not as they do not know what the injected product is, making a report of accurate statistics for illegal injections difficult.
Do not hesitate to ask to see the packaging of your filler; reputable injectors will not be offended. Note if the packaging has any foreign words on it or if serial numbers or the trade mark is missing.
The FDA requests anyone who thinks non-approved, or counterfeit dermal fillers are possibly being used, to please notify them.
A list of FDA approved fillers is available on their website. Because of the considerable number of patients that have been harmed by illegal substances, a coalition was formed to provide consumers with accurate and unbiased information. Physicians Coalition for Injectable Safety (PCIS) setup a website to aid patients providing a detailed guide to assist them in making informed choices in selecting a physician.
Dr. Delgado has been an expert injector since 1988 and is very concerned for patients that have been victimized by these marketers whose only concern is making a profit. He has seen many such patients in his office and is appalled that this practice continues. He hopes there will be more awareness through all forms of media to warn the public.