Covid shutdown led to rise in self-administered cosmetic procedures

Even as Covid lockdown kept most people indoors, many resorted to easily accessible products and web-based how-to-videos for enhancing their attractiveness, resulting in disfigurement, said researchers warning that facial filler is not a do-it-yourself (DIY) project.

In a study published in the journal ‘Clinics in Dermatology’, researchers from Boston University discuss three patients, who developed complications following home-administered cosmetic procedures due to their desire to gain benefits from cosmetically enhancing procedures without professional assistance.

To date, all patients suffer from continued abnormality in the pigmentation of the skin and/or scarring, some of which may be permanent.

While cosmetic procedures such as fillers have a myriad of possible complications, these procedures tend to be very safe with no to minimal side-effects when performed by licensed professionals.

“During the lockdown, doctor-patient interactions slowly resumed largely in the form of telemedicine clinics, however many cosmetic clinics remained closed. Unable to seek professional care, many felt compelled to search for easily obtained yet riskier cosmetic options,” said Neelam Vashi, associate professor of dermatology at the varsity’s School of Medicine.

According to the researchers, there is a vast pool of misinformation readily available on the internet in the form of how-to-videos and instructional web pages that teach one how to self-administer these cosmetic procedures that is factually incorrect information, often spread by self-proclaimed and unverified “experts”.

“The existence of e-commerce websites has made procurement of heavily regulated products such as dermal fillers and hazardous compounds like trichloroacetic acid and many more, exponentially easier, with many retailers selling counterfeit products of unknown quality, containing banned ingredients. This engenders a situation that predisposes vulnerable patients to be taken advantage of and suffer unintended and undesired consequences,” Vashi explained.

While people’s desire to look beautiful and their attractiveness-seeking behaviours are unlikely to change, the researchers believe the availability of illegally traded products and cosmetic procedures can be diminished with regulatory efforts carried out both by law enforcement and the communities themselves.

“Dermatologists should educate patients on the importance of performing cosmetic procedures in a safe environment with trained professionals, especially during the pandemic,” Vashi noted.

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