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Allergic reaction to dermal fillers in the hands of a beautician

“I looked like Elephant Man. The terrifying ordeal of a Scots mum after horrific allergic reaction to dermal fillers in the hands of a beautician.”

As one of Scotland’s top dermal filler clinics, it saddens us when we hear this news. The lack of regulation for potentially invasive medical procedures such as dermal filler injections means there is nothing to stop beauticians from offering treatments such as Botox and dermal fillers. As a result, we are seeing an increasing number of botched-up dermal filler treatments in Scotland, some of which have resulted in permanent disfigurement. On 10th January 2021, it was reported that a 46-year-old woman ended up in Accident & Emergencies department twice after suffering a horrific allergic following a dermal filler procedure by a beautician.

I set out my analysis of this incident below, together with my reasoning as to why non-clinicians should be banned from carrying out procedures such as Botox and dermal fillers.

According to the report, Sara Gibson paid £400 for her dermal filler treatments, which beautician Neisha Inglis administered at a hairdressing salon. However, instead of looking more rejuvenated, Sara said she was left looking like ‘the Elephant Man’ and feared she would die. Investigations carried out by the journalist in this news article uncovered the name of the dermal filler used by this beautician. The dermal filler is called Bliss Soft and Bliss Derm.

Bliss is a brand of dermal fillers manufactured by an Israeli firm, whose spokesman told the Daily Mail that their last shipment to the UK was October 2018 and that their range of fillers is to be used only by ‘specialised physicians in dermatology. Inglis is a beautician, so she should not use a product licensed for clinicians. The UK distributor of Bliss, LSF Farma Ltd, has since confirmed that Inglis is not registered as their customer. This can only suggest that Inglis procured the products from a questionable source. The quality and authenticity of her products should therefore be called into question too.

Unfortunately, the procedure left Sara with a badly swollen jaw and lumps under her skin which may have to be surgically removed. So now Sara, of Berwickshire, is launching legal action against Inglis, who now runs a beauty salon called Neisha Inglis Aesthetics which offers dermal filler treatments.

Sara said: ‘At that point, I thought I was going to die because I felt so ill. I’d never had anything done before, so at the time, I wasn’t aware of any implications.

According to Sara, the beautician was doing a deal for £400 for lip fillers and three areas of Botox’, which should have sent anyone’s alarm bells ringing. Botox is a prescription-only medication (POM). This means it must be prescribed by a doctor or licensed healthcare professional. A beautician does not have a prescribing license. This itself should have been a surefire red flag. In addition, a deal for £400′ for lip fillers and three areas of Botox is a deal that is too good to be true. Our premium and genuine dermal fillers and Botox costs are higher than this.

When Sara joked about other lines around her mouth during the treatment, Inglis said, ‘Let me try something, and ‘jabbed the needle’ into Sara’s face. She was reportedly given no pain relief and was in agony throughout the procedure. When she looked in the mirror immediately after the process, she could tell straight away that ‘something didn’t seem right. Unfortunately, this was followed by severe swelling a few days after, and hard lumps began to appear.

Sara’s experience did not stop there because she returned to the salon seeking help from Inglis. She was advised that she had an allergic reaction. Inglis then injected another prescription-only medication called hyaluronidase to dissolve the filler. This is yet another danger sign in the hands of a non-medically trained person. If Sara had an allergic reaction, Inglis should attend to this first, as an allergic reaction can progress into anaphylaxis – a life-threatening emergency. Sara was not assessed by a doctor before Inglis allegedly proceeded to inject the area with hyaluronidase.

Sara claims that the beautician told her she ‘had some leftovers from another customer. If this was true, her action was illegal. Like Botox, hyaluronidase is a prescription-only medication. Not only did Inglis dispense and use a prescription-only medication without a prescription, but using a medication intended for one patient on another is itself illegal, never mind, very dangerous. One of the complications associated with hyaluronidase is a severe allergic reaction – a medical emergency which requires urgent medical intervention. If this had happened to Sara, this beautician would not have known how to deal with it.

Eventually, Sara was referred by a doctor to a plastic surgeon. There was a genuine concern that surgery was needed as Sara was advised that the product was ‘like concrete, which would have needed to be removed. Fortunately, this looks to have been avoided as Sara, after having attended A&E twice, underwent a course of steroids and was placed in the care of an experienced medical professional for further treatment.

In addition to the many years of training and experience, cosmetic doctor has an overriding duty of care for their patients. The lack of regulation on beauticians (who do not owe such a duty of care) causes significant issues: not only do they not owe such a legal obligation to those they administer such treatments on, but they are also dealing with matters which, should complications arise, they may not be able to address.

If this report is accurate, it represents the most significant concern of clinicians operating in this area: patients placing themselves under the care of individuals who lack the knowledge, experience and ability to administer treatments and deal with complications effectively and safely. Therefore, we urge the Scottish government to urgently and meaningfully address the gaps in the existing regulatory framework for medical cosmetic procedures.



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