Great Britain

Botched lockdown Botox and filler left us bloody, bruised and battered

LIPS bloodied, black and swollen, this look is a result of “lockdown face” as those who can’t see beauticians make up for the lack of Botox and fillers by attempting a DIY job at home.

With clinics closed, many ­desperate users whose regular tweakments have worn off have breached quarantine rules to get their fix — often with devastating consequences.

The woman pictured suffered tissue necrosis — where the blood supply to the tissue is cut off — to her lips after buying plumping dermal filler online and attempting to inject it HERSELF.

But she is not alone. Botox and fillers account for nine out of every ten cosmetic procedures in the UK. Many of the celebs you see on television have had a little needle work too.

Last month model Caprice, 48, and comedian Katherine Ryan, 36, admitted they were missing their regular Botox fix. While former Love Island star Olivia Attwood said this week that she felt like she was melting because she could not get ‘enhancements’ like Botox during lockdown.

With the effects of the wrinkle-freezing procedure lasting three to six months, and dermal fillers lasting six to 12 months, many users are craving a top-up.

Ashton Collins, director of Save Face, an organisation which ­promotes safe cosmetics practices, says: “It’s a licence to print money at the moment. Patients are desperate enough to pay more. We’ve had patients calling to say, ‘My husband is starting to notice that I’ve got facial movement’ or ‘my mental health is suffering’.”

And of course, there is a black market ready and waiting to assist. Save Face has had more than 150 complaints about private treatments advertised on social media since lockdown began. But that is just the tip of the iceberg. Online adverts even go as far as promoting “quarantine sales”.

Meanwhile, filler can be bought on Amazon, eBay and specialist sites, and delivered the next day, for as little as £36 for 2ml — enough to create a full lip look popularised by the likes of the Kardashians.

Claims there has been a rise in the purchase of at-home kits for injectables, and more people turning to YouTube tutorial videos, has led to an inquiry being launched by the House of Commons All-Parliamentary Group on Beauty, Aesthetics and Wellbeing.


“The reports of consumers becoming more desperate over lockdown and attempting advanced procedures at home or in backstreet salons is extremely worrying,” says Lesley Blair, Chair of the British Association of Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology. The woman with the horrifically swollen lips bought filler online, but mistakenly injected an artery, leading to a blood vessel blockage which caused the necrosis.

“Without intervention she would lose not just the tissue in her lips but could spread to further regions in the face,” said Dr Tijion Esho of ESHO Clinic. “Two nurses, Susan and Claire, were able to get her help, treat her and prevent a devastating outcome.”

Dr Esho coined the term ‘lockdown face’ — the appearance of those who usually use Botox and filler but have had their treatments cut-off during lockdown. And he says the most desperate have attempted to inject themselves. Incredibly, you do not need to have any ­qualifications to buy or inject ­dermal fillers.

Women have been left with rotting tissue, lumps, needing lip amputations, and even blinded by botched jobs. It’s why Fabulous launched the Had Our Fill campaign earlier this year.

We’re calling for the use of fillers to be made illegal for under- 18s, a crackdown on social media sites plugging the treatment and a Government-backed central register for practitioners with accredited qualifications. The Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the lack of regulation — with dodgy practitioners flagrantly ignoring the ­lockdown guidelines by advertising on ­Instagram and Facebook.

As well as the usual dangers, there is the added risk of virus transmission from breaking social distancing. But this hasn’t stopped some women from taking the gamble. One of those is Janey Harwood, 28, from Peterborough, who started having Botox and fillers six years ago and gets a top-up every three months.

The admin assistant says: “I’m addicted to having the perfect ‘super pout’ and wrinkle-free skin and I refuse to let lockdown get in the way. As a teenager I had thin lips and lank hair and was bullied for how I looked. Now I never put the bins out or go to the shops without a full glam face and perfect hair.

“The thought of looking less than perfect on Zoom calls in lockdown filled me with dread. When my aesthetician rang to cancel my lip filler appointment I begged her to do a home visit. I even offered to tip her £100 and not tell anyone. She told me she couldn’t risk it. I was so angry when she wouldn’t change her mind.”

Some practitioners who are sticking to the rules have reported patients offering to pay double the usual rates and ­begging them to carry out mobile treatments. When Janey’s aesthetician refused to help, she found someone who would — a ­ practitioner who was offering at-home services.

Janey, who insists the woman wore protective clothing and surgical gloves, says: “She came to my house at 9pm and parked down the road so no one could work out what house she was going to. I told her to come via the back entrance, through an alleyway, to avoid any ­busybodies looking out of their windows.”

Janey had 1ml of filler in her top and bottom lips and Botox on her browline, paying £500, which was £150 more than she would usually spend. She says: “I didn’t ask her for her qualifications as she definitely knew her stuff. I felt a wave of relief as the needle went in. The results were amazing.”

But not everyone is so fortunate. When teenager Jen Dey* saw as part of “Eid offers” on Instagram last month a beautician advertising nose fillers for £75 instead of £500, she jumped at the chance. But the 19-year-old was left bloodied and bruised — and with a nose so swollen it ­frightened the specialist she went to for help.


Jen, from Bradford, says: “When I saw an offer from someone who was still working I thought, ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’.” Her consultation only lasted two minutes — with no side-effects discussed — and she was not given any PPE to wear.
She says: “It was very painful and blood was pouring out. It was traumatising.

“It took about an hour and a half because the blood kept coming. I was really scared. I cried my eyes out and went to bed not knowing what was going to happen to me.”

The next morning, Jen’s nose was still swollen. And when her original practitioner refused to help, she contacted and sent photos to Dr Ruth Brady, a dental surgeon concentrating on advanced facial ­aesthetic procedures. Dr Brady said: “Jen’s nose frightened me. It was so ­swollen and there were so many puncture holes.

“The nose is the most dangerous part of the face to inject dermal fillers. If any of the ­vessels get blocked, it can lead to blindness. It requires the greatest skill and should never be carried out by beauticians — but they do.”


FABULOUS Daily is ­working in ­conjunction with Save Face to demand that ­anyone ­considering a non-surgical ­cosmetic treatment should be well informed and able to make a safe ­decision.
Our campaign is backed by the Royal Society for Public Health, the ­British Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons and the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons.

In the end, she concluded Jen had a trauma which would improve in days. Save Face clinical director Emma ­Davies says: “When nasty complications arise, options to manage them safely are very limited. You’re most likely to be told to put up with the problem until lockdown is over.”

Save Face has been made aware of struck-off practitioners who are continuing to operate during lockdown.

Director Ashton says: “If someone is willing to risk your life for the sake of making a few pounds, is this somebody you want to trust with your health and your appearance? Our advice would always be to stay well clear of these ­people.”

*Names have been changed

I’ve been a human guinea pig having £100k of tweakments 

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