Here’s the thing about cosmetic injectables: the treatments are non-surgical (some say the pain feels like a quick pinch), and they can deliver desirable results. They’ve been tested throughout clinical trials and are made with purified ingredients made in a laboratory. Issues with “botched” cases can be associated with either an unqualified person administering the treatment and/or usage of non-regulated, counterfeit injectables. There is always a chance adverse events can still occur.
[Editor’s note: cosmetic injectables are temporary, medical treatments, and include injectable wrinkle reducers and fillers. These are designed to temporarily help smooth moderate to severe wrinkles (injectable wrinkle reducers) or add volume (fillers) to certain areas of the face. They are clinically tested, but there are still potential risks and side effects, so consult with a doctor to be sure that they’re right for you.]
Case in point: rapper Cardi B, who wanted a more voluptuous derriere, resorted to getting cheap filler treatments inside a questionable Queens basement. In an interview with GQ (April 9th 2018), she said, “It was the craziest pain ever. I felt like I was gonna pass out. I felt a little dizzy. And it leaked for, like, five days.”
Leaky buttocks aside, poorly administered injectables can be straight up hazardous to your health. “The worst cases are the few women who have died,” says Dr. Paul Nassif, the Beverly Hills plastic surgeon who you may know from E!’s Botched. Others have been disfigured, paralyzed, or otherwise disabled as a result of bad injections, he adds.
With a little help from Dr. Nassif, as well as two other plastic surgeons, we’ve outlined six ways you can make sure you’re never in a precarious situation that leaves you rendered as a botched example.
Have questions about cosmetic injectables? Chat with a trained aesthetic specialist now.
Avoid Counterfeit Injectables
Counterfeit injectables are on the rise, and you should avoid them at all costs, says Dr. Nassif. These are unregulated products that are typically manufactured in foreign countries and therefore do not have to live up to FDA scrutiny. Often, it’s unclear what counterfeit injectables are even made from. That means results are unpredictable and not easily reversed. Reactions can range from not seeing any results (this is the best-case scenario) to disfiguration and severe pain to — in the worst cases — death.
“Make sure it’s all hyaluronic acid, dissolvable fillers that are in [unopened] boxes so you know it’s not fake,” warns Dr. Nassif. “You don’t want the doctor to just grab a random syringe.” All injectable wrinkle reducers should also come from unopened boxes.
No reputable professional will use counterfeit injectables, so as long as you’ve done your research.
Don’t Try to Get Cheap Work Done Out of the Country
You may be able to find plastic surgery and injectable treatments for super cheap outside of the U.S., but you’re better off spending more for quality you can trust. For example, Dr. William H. Truswell, residing president of The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS), tells us about a patient he had that went to Mexico for a facelift and other treatments. The surgeon — without her consent or knowledge — injected her lips with an unknown substance.
“Her lips were grossly enlarged and misshapen,” he says. “I agreed to try to remove it, and a small incision in the lip over the bulge produced a thick, white substance the consistency of thick toothpaste. Fortunately, it was easy to massage out.” He adds, “I have also seen a few women on a mission trip to southeast Asia whose faces were injected with large amounts of liquid silicone. Their faces were also misshapen. Unfortunately, the material was so thoroughly incorporated into the tissues that it was impossible to remove it.”
Dr. Brian Eichenberg, a plastic surgeon based in Southern California, has similar stories.
“I once treated a patient who had mineral oil injected in their thighs in Mexico,” he says. “We had to remove all of the skin on both legs to remove the infection and they spent months in the intensive care unit in the hospital.”
Don’t Try to Get Cheap Work Done In the Country, Either
If it’s too good to be true, walk away. This is a medical procedure that affects your appearance, yes, but also your life. Don’t try to pinch pennies.
“You often get what you pay for,” says Dr. Eichenberg. “Some places sell injectables at a price lower than it can be bought. This is a sign that something is not right. Maybe they are diluting it so you are not getting what you pay for, or maybe they are buying it illegally from a black market source where there is no guarantee that it is safe or that it will work.”
Never Get Silicone Injectables
On that note, let’s talk about silicone. While silicone injections are approved for certain medical treatments (such as retinal detachment) in the United States, the FDA has taken a very strong stance against the usage of silicone injectables for face and body enhancements. That includes use for lip filler, face filler, butt augmentation, and direct breast augmentation (versus silicone implants).
“If you know our show, you may remember the lady who had silicone injections in her body. She ended up [disfigured] and was disabled because of the silicone injections,” Dr. Nassif told us at the Aesthetic Everything conference. “We’ve operated on her a few times and she’s since been transformed, but a growing number of people still go blind or die from silicone [injections].”
He explains that when silicone is injected into tissue, it can migrate to other parts of your body. Sometimes, it makes its way into a vein and then into your heart or lungs, which can actually cause death. No reputable professional will use silicone injections for face and body enhancements.
Don’t Go to Just Any Provider For Injectables
While your some providers may be exceptionally skilled at their specialities; when it comes to injectable wrinkle reducers and filler, you’re better off seeing someone who specializes in medical aesthetics.
“Theoretically, anyone with an MD can do anything in medicine. I am a facial plastic surgeon, but I wouldn't attempt an appendectomy,” points out Dr. Truswell. “Injectables fall classically in the realm of facial plastic surgery, general plastic surgery, oculoplastic surgery, and dermatology. Those are the specialties I trust,” he says.
These professionals administer injectables for a living and are well-acquainted with the muscles and contours of the face. They know exactly how much to administer, where to inject, and which areas to avoid. They also understand all the nuances of the various injectables that are available, which helps to ensure you look the way you want when you walk out the door.
Beyond qualifications, research the medical establishment’s reputation. What things are previous patients saying about the facility and its staff? Do they have an online presence or place where you can read recent reviews? Make sure you’ve done your research and that you wholly trust this person with your face — and your life.
Walk Out If You’re Getting a Bad Feeling
When you arrive, the facility should be pristine and welcoming. If you don’t feel comfortable, trust your gut and walk away.
“Avoid sloppy and dirty settings and be wary of deals and bargains that seem too good to be true,” says Dr. Truswell. “A professional injector will have the demeanor and self-awareness of his or her role. Avoid someone who does not use gloves, does not clean the injection site, or who is hesitant and visibly uncertain in handling the syringe.” It’s never too late to change your mind, and a licensed professional will be understanding if you ultimately decide to walk away.
Ultimately, getting injectable wrinkle reducer and filler is relatively common. Just make sure you’re not trying to get a deal, and that you know everything about the injector, the medical establishment, and the substances that are being injected into your body. (To find a licensed injector, consider contacting our aesthetics specialists to find one in your area.) It’s not worth trading the possibility of smoother skin or plumper lips for your life!
[Editor’s note: cosmetic injectables are temporary, medical treatments, and include injectable wrinkle reducers and fillers. These are designed to temporarily help smooth moderate to severe wrinkles (injectable wrinkle reducers) or add volume (fillers) to certain areas of the face. They have been clinically tested, but there are still potential risks and side effects, so consult with a doctor to be sure that they’re right for you.]