In the UK there are no regulations governing who can inject Botox or fillers. This means anyone – a plumber, hairdresser, your mum’s best friend’s mechanic – can all pick up a needle and stick it in your face claiming they can make you look better.

With social media flooded with images of precious pouts and frownless faces, the perception is that these are procedures that are easy to perform and have no risk. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Fillers, if injected into a blood vessel can cause serious damage including skin death and even blindness. While this is a rare occurance – there have been around 100 reported cases of blindness from fillers, it can happen – so having a practitioner who knows what they’re doing is imperative.

But, according to Save Face’s annual report, far too many people are putting themselves at risk. Its Consumer Complaints Audit Report 2017-18 shows that 934 people made complaints to the organisation which accesses and accredits medical aesthetic practitioners.

The vast majority of the complaints received involved fillers and Botox injections given by unregulated practitioners, eight of whom were masquerading as doctors.


934 complaints about botched jobs

Of the 900 or so complaints more than 600 were about fillers that had resulted in swelling, bruising or asymmetry, but more importantly there were 156 cases of lumps or nodules, 27 cases on infection and 6 cases of vascular occlusion – that’s 6 people who could have lost sight or suffered from skin death.

Almost 40 of those people ended up in A&E (11) or at their local GP for treatment (27). When the consumers complained to the practitioner who had performed the treatment, 226 were completely ignored and 387 had to seek treatment from another practitioner to get the procedures fixed.

More than 80% of these treatments were carried out by beauticians, hairdressers or lay people and 33% were done in a person’s house, 17% by a mobile practitioner who came to them and 11% at a ‘treatment party’.


6 cases of vascular occlusion that can cause blindness or skin death

Some 84% of the people injected didn’t know what they were injected with and 5% were injected with something else – not what they had paid for. Of the practitioners that Save Face investigated, 30% were buying their products online – so there was no guaranteeing the quality of the products. In many cases products sold on the internet can be fakes.

When it came to Botox where were 224 complaints that ranged from  looking frozen, bruising and swelling to ‘no result’ (indicating it was watered down or wasn’t the real thing) – and more concerning was a handful of cases of blurred vision.

Almost 70% of people did not have a face-to-faced consultation with a doctor or nurse prescriber before being injected, which is a legal requirement for Botox as it is a prescription drug – that means a prescriber must see you to ensure it is suitable for you.

And, 38% of those who complained didn’t know what the qualifications of their injector were.

Where did people find these practitioners?

Some 62 % were found on social media. While social media can be a great tool for finding practitioners there are many problems with it too. One is you don’t know whose before and after’s they are showing. Picture theft is common – so always ask to see the originals.

An additional 18% of complaints came from people who had used vouchers – again if it sounds too good to be true it probably means the person is sourcing cheap and/or fake products or watering them down.

Internet searches for the source for 11% of complainants while word of mouth accounted for the remaining 9%.

Take home message

Botox and fillers are common procedures but they require a practitioner with a medical background in order to be done safely.

With any procedure things can go wrong but your practitioner needs to be able to recognise when there’s a problem and know how to fix it.

It may cost a little more to pay for that expertise, but in the end, you could end up paying a much higher price is you end up with a botched job.

Save Face checks medical practitioners’ qualifications and gives them an accreditation award they can display in their clinics so you know they’ve done extra courses in aesthetics on top of their medical, dentistry, pharmacy or nursing degrees.

Here at Harley Street Emporium we check too so you know the practitioners are registered with their professional bodies, have insurance and have done the appropriate training.

Don’t become a botched statistic. Stay safe with practitioners who know what they’re doing.

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