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Surgeons warn about potentially blinding fillers

12/07/2017By Matthew Woodley
The increased prevalence of blindness as a result of soft tissue fillers has prompted the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) to issue a warning about the popular cosmetic procedure.

According to a recently published international study, the rising popularity of soft tissue fillers has created a corresponding rise in reports of adverse events, chief among them, blindness. While adverse events are rare, there have been more than 100 cases of irreversible blindness as a direct result of filler injections; a figure ASPS president Professor Mark Ashton said was conservative.

In the majority of cases, the loss of vision has been immediate and permanent, with no treatment available to assist the affected patients.

Ashton said the ASPS was concerned Australians seemed to perceive cosmetic procedures such as injectables, fillers and lasers as non-hazardous and therefore without risk.

“People need to be aware that the use of fillers and anti-wrinkle injections are essentially invasive procedures and are not risk-free,” he said.

“Things can go wrong and people should always think over before they makeover, and conduct their research on the experience and qualifications of the person undertaking the procedure, and the facility in which it’s being conducted.”

The sites that were identified as high risk for complications were the glabella (the smooth part of the forehead above and between the eyebrows), the nasal region, the nasolabial fold – also known as laugh lines – and the forehead. Even lip fillers, which are increasingly popular among young women, can cause blindness should the injection inadvertently enter any part of the facial artery.

Data released by the Australasian College of Cosmetic Surgery in 2015 estimated annual expenditure on cosmetic surgery procedures and treatments within Australia totalled $1 billion.

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