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The ugly face of the beauty industry

Rogue practitioners lure customers with cheap deals for beauty treatments, often leaving them with disfigurement, infection or paralysis


Sometimes beauty treatments can take a nasty turn, leaving customers at best not happy with the result. Photograph: iStock


With an increasing number of low-cost cosmetic procedures available on the market, sometimes beauty treatments can take a nasty turn, leaving customers at best not happy with the result, or at worst, the possibility of a body or facial disfigurement, infection or paralysis.

We spoke to several experts about the types of complications they have encountered in the past or the poor work they have had to step in and correct.

Facelift horror

Dr Peter Prendergast, founder of Venus Medical

“I see an increasing number of patients who have had cheap treatments or poor work. They do not look natural, or have complications such as lumps and bumps, swelling or worse. This quote comes to mind: ‘The bitterness of poor quality lingers long after the satisfaction of cheap procedures has been forgotten.’ Some complications can be treated, such as lumps from fillers. Others, such as the sequelae of nerve injuries or liposuction deformities, can be very difficult to correct. It’s always best to do it right the first time.

“I saw a patient recently that had facial nerve injuries following a facelift. That’s irreversible. This happened 15 years ago, and the company subsequently closed down, but she was left with complete paralysis of the left side of the face, with the eyelid dropping so badly, she had to tape her eye closed every night. There was also wasting in the face, so fat and volume was lost. She had two to three surgeries to try to correct her eyelid. When she came to me, we did fat grafting, volumising her face with restored volume, so the fat in her cheek actually pushed the eyelid up and corrected it.”

Filler complications

Prof Caitriona Ryan, consultant dermatologist and co-founder of the Institute of Dermatologists

“Fillers have certainly revolutionised anti-aging in general but in the wrong hands they can be associated with dangerous complications, including vascular occlusion leading to permanent tissue loss or blindness, serious infections or allergic reactions with disfiguring scarring.

“The use of dermal fillers is not regulated in Ireland and there has been a huge increase in their use by beauticians and inadequately trained nurses and doctors. If a dermal filler is inadvertently injected into an artery of the face, it must be immediately reversed by hyaluronidase, a regulated prescription injection.

“It is also essential that injectors have the qualifications and expertise to diagnose and treat infections, allergic reactions and other common complications of filler injections. Ideally, we would like to see regulations put in place as soon as possible restricting the use of these fillers to doctors or supervised nurses who are formally trained in the complex anatomy of facial vessels and nerves and in the expert injection of dermal fillers and the antidote hyaluronidase.”

Botox parties

Dr Eithne Brenner, medical director of Manara Skin Clinics

“Never have treatment in someone’s home in a party setting – it’s not a clean enough environment, and if you add possible alcohol, inadequate consultation processes, peer pressure, and often uninsured ill-trained, illegal practitioners, with no follow-up, it’s a recipe for disaster. Avoid high-pressure sales tactics, or time-limited deals. You should be offered a cooling-off period to make your decision. Your decision may be not to have treatment at all, so there should be no pressure.”

Hair transplants

Lorraine Lambert, chief executive and founder, Ailesbury Hair Loss Clinics

“Beauty does indeed backfire sometimes and mostly when somebody signs up for a budget deal overseas, after having bought into the sales and marketing tactics of often quite ruthless clinics.

“Here in Dublin, we’ve had to correct many client results following their trips to Turkish hair clinics. It amazes me that clients book in for hair restoration procedures with clinics that often don’t even have a doctor on site. In the last six months alone, we’ve corrected 11 Irish hair transplantation procedures from Turkish clinics. Some returned with bad bacterial infections on the scalp, which consequently killed off the new hair follicles they’d had placed and others have been in to us with very unnatural looking results, where they probably needed at least double the amount of hairs the Turkish clinic actually placed for them.

“For us, the priority is patient safety first, getting rid of infection and inflammation and then helping them achieve a more natural look. It’s a real shame that some clients opt for these kind of clinics, when they could be doing the procedure safely at home in Ireland with well-trained medical teams.”

Permanent make-up

Malwina Wojewoda, His & Hers Micropigmentation Clinic, Malahide

“All the previous permanent make-up done 10 to 15 years ago was with tattoos – known as the block method – and those, if implanted too deep into the skin, left a blue colour afterwards. Very often I do the removal and correction of bad work, or previously badly done permanent make-up. There are different results after permanent make-up, but if the colour turns blue, then I can correct it by removing it and applying the new colour when the blueish tone is removed.”