"I woke up and my lips were more swollen than ever"
Dentist Sarah Najjar, aged 34, of Bristol, decided to have lip filler jabs after worrying her lips were becoming deflated once she turned 30.
She paid £300 for the treatment, however, it went wrong and she was left with swollen, lumpy lips.
Ms Najjar was forced to pay another £700 to have the filler dissolved.
She explained: “My lips swelled up after I had the filler injected, which I initially thought was normal – but after a week you could see all these huge blue lumps and they felt rock hard.
“You could see them when I was talking. I was so self-conscious. I was in shock at what I ended up going through for what I’d thought was a simple procedure.
“As a result, I decided to train in facial aesthetics to understand what had gone wrong but now, I also want to help other people looking to get fillers done to make sure they understand the risks.
“I get so many women coming in for corrective work after getting botched fillers, and they always say the same thing, ‘I went somewhere cheap’.
“But you have to think, it’s cheap for a reason, and it ends up costing you far more to fix it.”
Sarah had her first procedure in 2016, thinking it was a simple procedure.
She said: “I admit I didn’t research it much which really isn’t like me at all. But I never got told about the risks or complications that could arise.”
Ms Najjar experienced some swelling after her appointment, but she assumed it was normal. But she realised something was wrong a week later.
“My lips were very lumpy and uneven, so I went back to the injector who had done them, and they suggested that even more filler would even them out.
“Looking back, I know that’s not right now, but at the time, I trusted what I was being told and just wanted it fixed. So, I had another one millilitre injected, meaning I’d had two millilitres in just two weeks.
“I woke up and my lips were more swollen than ever – literally about two centimetres in front of my face – and rock hard.
“I had to go into work and my practice manager was really shocked, asking me what on earth had happened.”
The swelling went down but her lips were lumpier than ever, adding:
“I was having to massage my lips to break the filler down.”
Sarah had a family wedding approaching and wanted to ensure that she looked presentable so she looked for a dermatologist who could help reverse the botched procedure.
She eventually found a specialist who could inject her with hyaluronidase (an enzyme which can break down hyaluronic acid, the ingredient in most lip fillers).
“That cost me £700, more than double what I’d paid for the original fillers.”
“I did have a slight allergic reaction to the hyaluronidase and my mouth swelled, but I was given antihistamines.
“I actually had the appointment on Christmas Eve, so it was amazing they could see me, as I assumed the doctor would be closed or very busy.
“I was under review for two days after that and, thankfully, my lips began returning to normal.”
As a result of her experience, Sarah took a facial aesthetics course on Harley Street, London.
She has now become officially qualified to perform lip filler procedures. Sarah works at The Dental Surgery in Clifton Village, Bristol, where she draws on her own experience to ensure that patients know about the possible risks.
“I was never told about risks or complications, so I want to make sure that the patients who come to me understand exactly what will happen before I put that needle in.
“If you don’t explain to them that there may be complications and that hyaluronidase, which they would need to dissolve the filler, is very expensive, plus there is currently a shortage in many parts of the world, so not every doctor has easy access to it, then you are leaving them vulnerable.
“The NHS shouldn’t have to be dealing with people going to A&E with complications like occlusions, when blood vessels get blocked, but the difficulty is that people aren’t told the risks and so don’t know what to do.
“It’s also really important to give people a cooling off period, so they have 24 hours to go away and think about whether, now they have all the information, they actually want to go ahead.
“It’s not right to do it there and then, as they can feel pressured.”
The dentist has talked about the increase in unqualified people performing the procedure.
A 2017 statement by the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) revealed that dermal fillers remain unregulated in the UK, meaning anyone can order them off the internet.
Save Face has provided a national register of accredited practitioners in order to reduce the number of people turning to the cheaper alternative of letting an unqualified person perform cosmetic work.
On the subject Ms Najjar said:
“It’s worrying the amount of unqualified people now doing dermal fillers.
“Beauticians don’t necessarily go through proper medical training, they just learn from each other, and can’t prescribe medication if needs be, or deal with complications.
“Make sure ask to see to a practitioner’s portfolio so you have an idea what their work is like and what to expect of the treatment.
“Doctors and dentists train for years and years, yet there are people going on one-day courses claiming to be able to do the same thing.
“When they’re charging low fees for work too, you have to ask yourself why. How cheap is the filler they’re using?
“You can easily buy it online for as little as £35 a millilitre – and that’s not something I’d put in my own face, let alone my patients.”