Dr Clare Bailey: Fillers – what to watch out for

As we age, our faces change. Our collagen production slows and levels of hyaluronic acid reduce, meaning our skin thins and becomes less stretchy and less plump. As a result, what was once smooth and taut succumbs to gravity.

Maite Franchi/Folio Art

Medical aesthetics – or cosmetic surgery to you and me – is a rapidly expanding speciality with lots of new technologies being developed. This can include facial fillers – substances injected into the lines, folds and tissues of the face to reduce wrinkles, plump up cheeks and lips, reduce scars and restore youthful-looking volume and shape. Most of these fillers break down over time. However, as with any type of surgery, there can be complications.

Should you choose to go down this route, research is vital. You expect to trust a doctor, nurse or dentist as they have qualifications and a regulatory body, but there are no restrictions on who can inject fillers. The British College of Aesthetic Medicine is lobbying for a formal regulatory body and register but in the meantime, saveface.co.uk, which is recognised by the Professional Standards Authority, NHS England, the government and The Care Quality Commission, has its own list of accredited practitioners.

If you plan to have any kind of treatment, particularly on your face, you need to be able to trust the person administering it. If things go wrong – for example, if you get local bruising, the formation of lumps, bumps, nodules, swelling or even infection – it can be extremely distressing. Occasionally, the risks can be more serious such as allergy, or – if a blood vessel is affected – interrupting blood supply to the lip or eye. It is vital that the practitioner is able to manage these promptly as they may have irreversible consequences.

Surgeon and cosmetic medical doctor Miss Sherina Balaratnam is a strong advocate of patient education so if you’re considering fillers, here is her checklist of what to look for…

  1.  Identify your main concerns and know what look you want to achieve. This should mean you don’t get talked into having procedures you might not want. Be realistic about your expectations – do you want to look less tired? More youthful? More relaxed? To redefine your lips or jawline?
  2. Research the procedure you want and find a qualified practitioner. Ask to see their qualification (ideally from a medical, nursing or dental regulatory body), before-and-after images of their patients, how long they have been using these products and look up patient reviews.
  3. Expect a good consultation. You need time to be assessed and to ask questions – take a list if you need to. Informed consent means
    understanding the potential side effects. Expect a cooling-off period to consider if it’s right for you or to look at other options. Is the clinic clean and professional? Ask about the product, its safety profile and about the clinic’s aftercare protocols so you have a more relaxed treatment journey with your practitioner on hand to address any queries.
  4. Cheaper may not necessarily be better. With a huge range of options available, choose a practitioner and clinic you feel comfortable with and whom you can trust.

For a botanical boost…

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Natural spring water with added botanical extracts is going to be my drink of choice this summer. And not just because the aromatic flavours are delicately delicious – they are good for me, too. Certain herbs are said to have various health benefits after being carefully extracted to retain all the active compounds in the drink. Mint water is thought to aid digestion, thyme water may help a hangover and my favourite, juniper water, is said to reduce inflammation and its berries are famously used to make gin. See no1botanicals.com.

If you have a question you would like answered, email drclarebailey@you.co.uk.