A DOCTOR has slammed the unsafe use of cosmetic fillers after seeing a Cork patient narrowly avoid blindness from a procedure in a tattoo parlour.
Dr Brian Cotter is co-founder and medical director of SISU, which has aesthetic clinics across Miami, New York, Dublin, and Cork. He is currently appealing to the government to introduce laws around lip and face fillers.
Dr Cotter and his brother, fellow SISU-co-founder Dr James Cotter, recently penned a letter to the Health Minister underlining their concerns.
The brothers are urging the government to restrict dermal fillers to medical professionals and ban the treatments altogether for those under the age of 18.
Dr Cotter described how Cork people are risking serious complications by having fillers injected at places like their kitchen tables and in tattoo parlours.
“When you think about people travelling to someone’s home to do lip fillers, it’s insane,” he said.
“No self-respecting doctor is going to do house-calls because this is not something that should ever be done over a kitchen table.”
He referred to one patient who came to him after receiving undereye fillers in a tattoo parlour. The cosmetic procedure is designed to add volume to areas under the eye with a hollow or sagging appearance.
“I had a person in Cork come to me who had an under-eye filler done in a tattoo parlour. I almost had to take a deep breath as she told me what had happened,” he said.
“When she returned and asked what product had been used, they wouldn’t tell her. However, when she explained that she had to see a doctor, they told her that it was a Chinese product that got its CE mark in Norway. I had never heard of this product before and it wasn’t something that there was a lot of available data on.”
Dr Cotter underlined the trauma suffered by the patient.
“The person experienced a visible change in their appearance. You could see that the product was placed in the wrong location and aesthetically it didn’t look very pleasing.
“The technique used was another factor. This person was extremely lucky that they didn’t go blind. However, they were totally oblivious to that fact. It was done in a zone that you shouldn’t go into where we tend not to use sharp needles. That’s not to sound sensational.
“It’s important that people change their perception of what is in this stuff. These aren’t beauty products. They are medical treatments. That means they should be carried out by medical professionals in a medical environment. This is not something that should be done over your kitchen table by someone who also does your nails, yet this is happening everywhere.”
He stressed that a tragedy should not have to occur before legislation becomes available.
“What we are asking the government to do is set down standards that other people can follow. As far as we are concerned, the patient is first and business comes second.
“The general public are becoming more educated now, but unfortunately, legislation has to be introduced. Like with any other form of legislation, this requires a public outcry or catastrophe of some sort to become reality.
“Somebody will lose sight in one eye, or another issue, and from that space it will be looked at. At this point, however, it will be too late.”
Corkman and co-founder of the SISU doctor-led aesthetic clinics, Pat Phelan said the products are too widely accessible.
“You can buy fillers on Amazon now, which means that they are products anyone can access,” Mr Phelan said.
“If something goes wrong, a beautician isn’t going to know what to do. There is no thought process going into what can go wrong if complications occur. You wouldn’t ask a family member to inject you with something in the face, but this is no different because they don’t have the medical expertise.”
The entrepreneur said that more people are availing of these types of treatments in professional settings.
Speaking of the SISU chain, he said: “Business is really booming despite the pandemic. People are having work done now as they are seeing their faces up close for online events like meetings on zoom. A lot of the time this is influencing their decision to get work done and make improvements.”