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Dermal fillers top complaints list, says study

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The aesthetic treatment that received the most complaints in 2022, according to a new study done by Save Face, was dermal fillers, with botulinum toxin second.

This study, done in partnership with beauty retailer Justmylook, investigated the 2,824 aesthetic treatment complaints made in the UK from Save Face’s records of the last year, to find which aesthetic treatments received the highest complaint rate in 2022, and raise awareness of the potential risks.

Of the complaints studied, 1,948 were about dermal fillers, with 67% (around 1,300) regarding lip fillers. Patients are also taking to TikTok to spread the word, as #lipfillergonewrong has 91.3 million views across 820 videos. Cheeks were the second most complained about location of dermal fillers, making up 12% of dermal filler complaints.

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Botulinum toxin received the second highest number of complaints (677), making up 24% of the total. Almost nine in ten complainants didn't know that botulinum toxin is a prescription-only drug before undergoing treatment, and over 20% of cases are believed to have been given using unlicensed or counterfeit botulinum toxin.

Thread lifts were the third most complained-about treatment (118). The procedure has soared in popularity recently, amassing 182.4m views on TikTok after the ‘fox eye’ trend boomed, inspired by supermodels like Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner.

Eighty-nine-percent of complainants found their practitioner on social media, and 84% claimed to have been ignored or blocked by their practitioner when they tried to seek help. When these clients took the matter of solving these beauty crises into their own hands, only 8% of the 34% who turned to the NHS for assistance received treatment, with 6% of cases being misdiagnosed as infections.

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Each month 1,890 online searches are made in the UK about micro-needling going wrong, making it the sixth most complained-about treatment in the UK.

“In safe hands, non-surgical cosmetic treatments can be a fantastic way to help make us look and feel better," said Save Face director Ashton Collins. "They are minimally invasive and require less downtime than the surgical alternatives. However, they are not without risk. They are medical procedures that can cause serious complications if they are not administered by someone who is competent to administer the treatment safely but is also able to recognise and manage the complications should they occur. For example, dermal fillers can cause blindness, necrosis (tissue death), infections and unsightly results all of which require corrective treatment using prescription-only medications."

Collins reinforced that it is crucial to seek out a reputable and qualified healthcare professional to discuss concerns and desired objectives: "During your consultation, the practitioner should provide a full explanation of the treatment, the products used, the possible side-effects and complications and how they will look after you should one occur. It is imperative that you have all this information before consenting to treatment."

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