The Maxillofacial Surgical Department deals with conditions affecting the face, head and neck and would like to make patients aware of the risk and complications of cosmetic dermal fillers. The department has seen an increase in complications relating to cosmetic fillers and has recently had two patients presenting to the department, 12 months after injections of dermal fillers from an external organisation, with a foreign body reaction (pain, swelling and redness) within the cheek.

One case was so severe that an MRI scan was performed to rule out any other causes for the swelling and inflammation. The scan and surgery confirmed that it was as a result of the patient reacting to the fillers.

Whilst these complications are rare, they are quite disfiguring and distressing when they happen. With the increase of the injection of dermal fillers and the lack of regulation on the delivery of this type of treatment there is likely to be an increase in the incidence of complications.

The lack of regulation of most practitioners delivering this type of treatment has led to an under-reporting of complications. Unfortunately, it is only reported when patients seek medical advice from the NHS once they develop a problem.

The rare but severe complications that patients need to be aware of includes:

– Foreign body reactions causing chronic inflammation (the patient reacting badly to the cosmetic filler causing persistent pain, swelling and redness at the site of injection)

– Injection into a blood vessel causing blockage of the flow in the blood vessel leading to skin necrosis, blindness or stroke

– The needle causing damage to a blood vessel causing bleeding or Hematoma (a collection of blood in the skin)

Mr Mohammed-Ali, consultant Maxillofacial Surgeon would recommend that patients check the qualification and registration of their treatment provider and ask the provider what type of filler they will be receiving, the risk of the procedure and whether the practitioner injecting the dermal filler is able to deal with the possible complications.