Blind from a cosmetic filler

Doctors have treated a patient who has gone permanently blind from having dermal filler injected into her face, according to an ABC report.

A Four Corners investigation has revealed that in April, the woman was taken to the ophthalmology department at Sydney’s Prince of Wales Hospital, where despite the best efforts of doctors, her sight in one eye could not be restored.

She was given the filler by a nurse at a clinic where there was no doctor physically present, the ABC reported.

Prince of Wales Hospital ophthalmologist Dr John Downie, who treated the patient, agreed it was “alarming” that a patient could go blind from what is marketed as a simple cosmetic procedure.

“The problem I get is that people perceive a cosmetic procedure to have limited or no risk, and that’s not the case,” he said.

While fillers and anti-wrinkle injections such as Botox are often provided by nurses in shopping malls with only a brief Skype consultation with a doctor, they involve injection into the face of a Schedule 4 drug classified under the Poisons Standard.

Dr Downie says blindness can occur when an artery is blocked by the dermal filler.

“The filler or other substance is inadvertently injected into one of the blood vessels in the skin around, or under the skin around the eye,” he said. “That material goes back along that artery to one of the bigger arteries around the eye, and then it can flow and block off the blood vessels going to the eye, or inside the eye.”

Internationally, there have been 98 documented cases of blindness caused by fillers.

Australian doctors are also concerned by the sudden popularity of another cosmetic procedure that also poses a significant patient risk.

Four Corners revealed the Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS) has put out a warning to its members about mortality rates from the so-called ‘Brazilian butt lift’, or BBL.

The ASAPS has referred to an international study based in the US that found the BBL has a higher death rate than any other plastic-surgery procedure, with one in 3,000 patients dying. The average mortality rate for all other plastic-surgery procedures is one in 55,000.

The BBL is a gluteal fat graft where liposuction is performed on another part of the patient’s body, such as the tummy or thighs, and injected into the buttocks.

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