Injecting laugh lines and filling cheeks and lips with fat and hyaluronic acid has become so common that some of us consider our twice-yearly visits to the cosmetic doctor to be as harmless as dyeing or bikini wax. However, a recent review of patient records at South Korea National University’s Bundang Hospital found that improper injection of cosmetic fillers – particularly fat, but in some cases hyaluronic acid – resulted in blindness or partial blindness in one eye in 12 patients since 2008 While that’s a tiny percentage of the hundreds of thousands of filler treatments given each year, it’s still a cause for concern.
To understand how this can happen and how to avoid it, Allure spoke to Sydney R. Coleman, a Manhattan fat transplant pioneer and a clinical assistant professor of plastic surgery at New York University’s Langone Medical Center. Patients like the idea of lunchtime treatments, but when it comes to injections of fillers, Coleman says a small amount injected slowly is the safest way to go.
Is this the first time you have heard of this blindness problem?
“The FDA issued a warning in 1991 that blindness was a risk from collagen injections and liquid silicone injections to the face. We anecdotally know that this happened here in the US, but since most cases go unreported, we don’t know how widespread.” Is it like this. If there is a legal dispute, there is usually a gag order about the parties involved and about the amount of the severance payment. “
Is blindness one of the potential complications listed on the consent forms that patients must sign before receiving cosmetic injections?
“I always tell patients about this potential complication,” says Coleman. But other practitioners who have not heard of Allure are now planning to include it in their consent forms.
Why was blindness more common with fat than with hyaluronic acid?
“Because fat can aggregate into a larger drop or bolus than the other semi-solid injectables like hyaluronic acid, silicone, Radiesse, Artefill and Sculptra, or crystallized injectables like steroids used in nasal surgery. If the needle pierces an artery and a filler line goes in it, it may branch out to [smaller] Arteries that cut the arteries of the eye. In most of the cases of blindness from injection that I have reviewed, it most often happens when sharp needles are used. Injecting filler material under the skin is safer with a blunt needle. As an additional precaution, the first thing I do when I inject fat is to inject adrenaline to narrow the arteries. “