Cosmopolitan recently ran an article reminding everyone that bargains on cosmetic beauty injectables can end up costing you more than they are worth. One woman, Dana, instantly snapped a too good to pass up online coupon for Juvéderm only to be left with a biofilm infection. According to the dermatologist who diagnosed Dana’s infection, the cause was either bacteria in the filler or from the injection site not being cleaned properly. Either way, it can take months for the infection to clear up.
Dana did ask the man injecting her how he could be offering Juvéderm at such a fantastic discount and, “He told me he gets a great deal from Canada.” What he did not tell Dana was it was illegal for him to do so. These sorts of beauty bargains and their complications are becoming more and more common across the United States. Miami dermatologist Manjula Jegasothy said, “I’d say 1 in 4 [bargain hunters] suffers some kind of complication.” Some complications are short-lived like irritation to allergic reactions, and some can affect a person for the rest of their life – like nerve damage, facial drooping, disfigurement, and in rare situations, blindness or paralysis.
Only manufacturers and authorized distributors sell FDA-approved cosmetic injectables, but that does not stop shady dealers sending cryptic offers directly to doctors’ offices. New York City plastic surgeon Lawrence Bass, MD said, “We often get emails pushing discounted fillers from so-called Canadian pharmacies.” Just because a filler is approved in another country, that does not mean that you should consider it to be safe. In Europe, there are about 160 different approved dermal fillers, but in the U.S, we only have about 20. “Many European fillers have characteristics, like hardness and lumps, that Americans would never find acceptable,” said Dr. Bass.
If you are considering getting dermal fillers, it is recommended that you go to the manufacturer’s website for that product. Many websites let you verify which dermatologists and medical spas in your area are purchasing their FDA-approved products. For example, if you are considering Juvéderm, you just need to put your zip code in the Find a Doctor box. For Restylane, you go to the product’s website and click on Find a Specialist.