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The ticking time bomb of Britain’s unregulated market in dermal fillers: what parents need to know

Over the past few years, the demand for dermal fillers has sky rocketed. Whether you blame the influence of celebrities like Kylie Jenner, who famously opted to enhance her natural smile with lip fillers, or the rise of selfie culture, the result is a 130% surge in demand for fillers in just over a year.

However, there’s one big problem with the nation’s new number one non-surgical treatment: there’s currently no effective quality control for dermal fillers in the UK. And, as Dr Tracey Bell, a dentist who has been involved in aesthetic treatments for 16 years, told ParentFolk, the age of the people seeking these treatments has fallen dramatically over the past few decades.

When Dr Bell first began offering lip fillers over 15 years ago, the average age of the people seeking treatments was 40. These days, many of the enquiries are from people who are under 20. And while Dr Bell and all reputable aestheticians will turn away under-age patients in a heartbeat, teenagers are seeking out unregulated beauty salons and online retailers instead.

It’s a situation that’s been causing Dr Bell, who has six children, sleepless nights. Recently, she has been called upon to help a number of young women who’ve been left scarred (and in some cases in need of hospitalisation) following lip fillers.

Due to her expertise in aesthetic medicine, she is often asked to remove lip fillers and help patients to recover their confidence following botched treatments or allergic reactions to treatments.

Dr Bell said: “What is alarming to me is that patients book in for lip fillers assuming that they’re in safe hands and that if anything goes wrong, the person administering the treatment will know what to do.

“However, sadly we’ve made what is a medical device in the US into a cosmetic treatment in the UK. So if something goes wrong, or you suffer an allergic reaction during your treatment, there’s no guarantee that the person you trust with your filler will know how to remove it or even that they’re licensed to stock the right solutions to remove it.”

She added: “Add to that the fact that just over 10 dermal fillers are FDA approved in the States, while over 100 fillers are available for use in the UK and you get some idea of the scale of the problem.

“The really sad thing is, women are gambling with their health and their appearance and they don’t even realise it, as they just assume that the market is regulated and that they’re being protected.”

If you’re planning to book in for dermal fillers, Tracey’s advice is to find out what experience and qualifications your practitioner has first. Also, ask them which fillers they use and ask to see the paperwork for the filler they propose using for your treatment.

Tracey is campaigning for all dermal fillers to be regulated, so that you can have complete confidence in the practitioner who’s injecting you and also in the quality of the products that they’re using.

However, in the meantime, she’s helping several women every week who’ve been referred to her following serious issues with fillers. In some of the most extreme cases Dr Bell has seen, the women had faced permanent disfigurement and even, in some cases, death, as a result of complications from fillers.

Tracey’s warning is stark. Until the market for fillers is regulated, patients simply can’t afford to assume that everyone offering them is sufficiently qualified. For now, the onus is on patients to shop around and to do as much research as possible before booking in for this kind of treatment.

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