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Safety of Dermal Fillers

Following recent press coverage on injectables and dermal fillers, we have put together a Q&A session to help you understand the difference between the various fillers available on the market.

What are the concerns surrounding the Dermal Fillers?

At present Dermal Fillers are not considered in the same way as medicines, therefore do not require a prescription and ‘non healthcare professionals’, such as beauty therapists, can purchase and administer them.

The main concerns are:

-there are close to 160 injectable fillers certified for sale in the UK, leaving patients at risk of poor-quality products (by comparison in America the FDA has only approved 6 fillers).

-anti-ageing fillers are injected by practitioners who are not medical.

-beauty salons and clinics have been offering permanent fillers (like Bio-Alcamid featured on The Times on Sunday) which require a greater level of expertise and medical skill sets. Also patients hadn’t been made fully aware that because those fillers are permanent, any eventual complication would be more difficult to address, and would require surgical removal by a plastic surgeon.

There are many fillers on the market that are substandard. The Private Clinic uses only Allergan and Galderma fillers which are of the highest quality. Also these fillers are not permanent.

Furthermore The Private Clinic allows only qualified doctors and nurses to inject fillers.

What will happen now?

The Independent Health Advisory Services (IHAS), The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPs) and some private providers, including The Private Clinic, will be putting pressure on the Government to introduce more stringent regulations.

We would like the Government to limit the ability to inject only to healthcare professionals (doctors or nurses) and to put more checks in place to assess the products used in new fillers coming to the UK for safety.

Regardless of regulations, at The Private Clinic we only use products, such as Juvederm from Allergan or Restylane from Galderma, which have high safety records and have been used for decades.

Are all Dermal Fillers the same?

At present there are dozens of fillers on the market which can crudely be split into permanent/semi permanent and temporary.

The first categories last forever and can only be removed by surgical excision. The active ingredients in these vary but most contain acrylic acid which stimulates an inflammatory reaction within the skin causing scar tissue to build up around it and lock it into place. The fact that permanent fillers rely on an inflammatory reaction makes them unpredictable both in their efficacy and complications.

The second category are the temporary filler which either contain collagen (now used very rarely due to the necessity to precede the injection with a skin sensitivity test one week before) or the hyaluronic acid fillers such as Restylane and Juviderm manufactured by Q-med/Galderma and Allergen respectively. These are the fillers that we use at The Private Clinic and there is now an enormous amount of data supporting their safety. They usually last 6-12 months.

What should I do before having a Dermal Filler treatment?

(1) We recommend patients to ensure they go to a reputable clinic. A report form the NCEPOD in 2010 showed that there appeared to be a substantial turnover of companies providing cosmetic surgery with 11.5% of companies listed no longer trading at the time they were contacted.This means that should you have any issue with a treatment, you would have nowhere to go and would find it difficult to even get hold of the person who performed your treatment.

(2) Secondly ask them who will be performing the treatment and how much experience they have. We believe that only healthcare professionals should be allowed to inject.

(3) Thirdly ask what type of filler they will be using, whether permanent or temporary, so that you are able to make an informed choice together with your healthcare professional. We believe temporary fillers to be safer and results more predictable.

(4) Finally should they use a brand you don’t recognise, ask more information on the company producing them.

We would like to reassure all our patients that we have always been using very reputable suppliers, products with high safety standards that are long established.

We hope the above information is useful but do not hesitate to ask us any questions by emailing