Have we reached peak filler?

From red carpet stars to social media influencers and reality TV celebrities, there’s no denying that over recent years, many people have come to have a somewhat similar look: rounded cheeks, full lips, sculpted jaws and slightly raised brows.

The reason for this uniformity is dermal filler, available in hundreds of different variations in the UK – and while such procedures used to be the domain of the affluent, increasing availability has meant that even teenagers can pump their faces full of filler for reasonably affordable amounts.

That’s not to say that the rise in the availability of treatments reflects an increase in the number of trained medical professionals – in fact, worryingly, there is currently no legislation requiring a licence or qualifications to administer cosmetic procedures of this nature. Many vendors market their injectable treatments by way of Instagram – and many influencers even have the procedure done for free in return for promoting it on their feeds. Whereas once facial work may have been something done secretly, during the course of a holiday, there is absolutely no stigma attached to tweaking one’s looks now – in fact, a recent poll demonstrated that 59% of young people see getting filler as on a par with having a haircut or manicure.

Complaints about botched facial fillers doubled to 1342 in 2019, with 83% of these procedures carried out by non-medical professionals. Thanks to the online availability of product, it is even possible to self-administer plumping injections – and estimates are that the cost to the NHS of rectifying problematic procedures has been in the range of £29 million.

When injected by a qualified practitioner, dermal filler is generally safe, but as with any medical procedure, there are risks involved; in extreme instances, these may include blindness or stroke. For this reason, it’s widely believed that only medical professionals should be able to provide the treatment, because they are qualified to rectify or prescribe in the event of a problem.

Even without such drastic side effects, many of the complaints around injections relate to over-filling – heavy handed application that results in a puffy, unnatural look – in fact, it’s not uncommon for patients to seek help with reducing or reversing the look by way of a dissolvent. That said, the desire for facial fillers doesn’t look to be declining any time soon, with most patients returning when the over-filled area has reduced back down to its normal size for injections of a subtler nature: the aim is slightly fuller, more youthful features, rather than an exaggerated, pillowy appearance.

Calls for tighter regulations, including for dermal filler to be made unavailable for under 18s, a clampdown on social media sites marketing dermal fillers and a government-backed central register for practitioners with accredited qualifications are now being made – but in the meantime, the Department of Health & Social Care urges ‘anyone seeking a cosmetic procedure to take the time to find a reputable, safe and qualified practitioner.’

At Santi in South Kensington, your dermal filler treatment is in the hands of some of the country’s most highly regarded doctors, each of whom holds a wealth of qualifications. Each client is addressed individually, with a thorough discussion of their needs and expectations, so that the most effective, safe and successful treatments can be administered by the most experienced of practitioners.