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Growing complacency with cosmetic injections could have serious consequences

5 March 2018

Non-surgical enhancements using cosmetic injections, including dermal fillers, are becoming increasingly popular in Australia.

As these non-surgical cosmetic procedures become more common, there is concern over growing complacency regarding the associated risks. This has prompted a reminder about the presence of counterfeit products and the conversations patients should be having with their doctor during consultations.

What are dermal fillers?

Dermal fillers are materials injected under the skin to reduce the appearance of facial wrinkles or lines, and can also be used to enhance facial contours by adding volume to cheeks and lips and to improve the appearance of scars. Dermal fillers are typically made up of hyaluronic acid, where as anti-wrinkle injections commonly contain botulinum toxin (Botox). Botox is more commonly used in the forehead and reduces the activity of muscles in the face that cause wrinkles, compared to dermal fillers that restore volume and plumpness in various parts of the body.

What are the risks?

It is important to understand that the risks associated with cosmetic injections can be related to both the product and the experience of the person performing the procedure. While less severe side-effects such skin redness, acne and swelling can occur, some of the more serious risks include:

  • permanent blindness which can occur when the filler is injected into any part of the facial artery and is not limited to procedures involving the eye area
  • discolouration and death of skin tissue following dermal fillers being injected incorrectly; and
  • the presence of counterfeit dermal filler products on the Australian market. There is no knowing what these are made of and should be avoided.

There is always an element of risk in medical procedures, however many of these can largely be avoided by researching and selecting a qualified, registered medical doctor who has extensive experience and knowledge of the facial anatomy.

Reputable, registered medical practitioners are less likely to be involved in the illegal importation and/or use of dangerous counterfeit products. You can avoid these products by ensuring that your qualified medical doctor is prescribing a product that has been approved by the TGA.

Reporting suspected counterfeit medicines or devices

If you suspect you have seen or bought a counterfeit therapeutic good, you can report the matter to the TGA in the following ways:

Online: Report a perceived breach of the Therapeutic Goods Act or questionable practices relating to therapeutic products
Phone: 1800 020 653
In writing, via post to: Chief Investigator
Regulatory Compliance Unit
Therapeutic Goods Administration
PO Box 100
Woden ACT 2606

Further information

Information for consumers, including questions that should be asked during a consultation, can be found at: Things to consider before undergoing procedures involving dermal fillers.

To report adverse events as a result of a dermal filler product, speak with your doctor or visit Reporting adverse events.

If you require further information, you can contact us on 1800 020 653 or email