DIY beauty injectables are fueling a ‘horrifying’ online black market
Beauty shouldn’t hurt this much — or even kill you.
People are buying cosmetic chemicals online and injecting them into their faces — and some are even giving step-by-step YouTube tutorials on how to do the same.
The FDA issued a formal warning about dermal fillers in 2017, cautioning users to “NEVER buy dermal fillers on the Internet. They may be fake, contaminated, or harmful.”
But if the DIY videos popping up YouTube and the availability of at-home products for sale online are any indication, self-injecting is rampant.
Plus, a 2018 study published in the journal Plastic Surgery surveying four online discussion forums found that DIY-injectors understood the danger of self-injection and unregulated products. Health risks were “not a deterrent.” DIY-ers were motivated in part by affordability, and online advice and videos stoked their confidence. “Individuals taught themselves to inject through watching YouTube tutorials and downloading Botox injection maps from the Internet,” the study says.
Indeed, The Post found a link for 1 cubic centimeter of hyaluronic acid, a temporary dermal filler used by plastic surgeons and other professionals, for sale with a syringe from a private seller for $85 on Amazon. Alibaba is selling it, too — in greater quantities: Just $29 a box for those who buy 30 or more boxes. Used incorrectly, injectable hyaluronic acid can cause stiffness and joint pain.
When asked for comment, Amazon issued a statement: “All Marketplace sellers are required to follow our selling guidelines and those who do not will be subject to action, including potential removal of their account. The product in question is no longer available.” US public relations for Alibaba had not yet heard back from their team in China at press time.
“This is one of the most dangerous and irresponsible trends I’ve heard of, because facial anatomy is incredibly complex,” Dr. Lara Devgan, a Manhattan plastic surgeon, tells The Post. “It’s horrifying to me.”
It’s not the first time people have tried to save a buck with budget procedures: Back-alley butt lifts have been a hazard for years, with New Jersey “butt butcher” Ayman Shahine surrendering his state medical license a month ago after more than a dozen patients sued him for botched butt lifts and other surgeries.
Many facial fillers are injected into what’s known as the “danger triangle”: the area around the mouth and nose. That area is anatomically complex, and the wrong procedure can impact the brain. “The risks include tissue death, permanent blindness and disfigurement,” says Devgan, who compares buying injectables on the Web to getting a loaded gun off the Internet.
While the DIY videos and injectables are frequently taken offline, they’re often quickly replaced with more of the same.
Devgan says that even videos by professionals on the correct use of injectables can be misleading. “Social media and the Internet have made injectables look so easy,” she says, “but the technical aspects of these procedures require extensive knowledge of tissue behavior and anatomic relationship.”
Those who self-inject can expect to pay up later, when real surgery might be required to reverse the damage done.
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