Doctor: Beauty treatments gone wrong could cause permanent blindness

Going blind for beauty

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - We are all searching for the fountain of youth and now some pretty good science is helping some people find it.

Injectable's like Botox and fillers like Juvederm and Restylane are more popular than ever. In 2012 nearly a million people in the US used them and most of them were women.

Competition with more products on the market is making the treatments more affordable.

"Fillers are an amazing technology and the doctors who do it are very skilled," said Dr. Gilly Munavalli with Dermatology, Laser and Vein Specialists of the Carolinas.

Unfortunately the increased availability of them and the fact that they've become commonplace in society means people other than doctors are sometimes doing the injecting and consumers think that's okay.

We met three women who had negative reactions to their fillers. Two injected by physicians and one injected at what's called a "plumper party". These parties happen in Charlotte.

"At the parties they can get the products for very low prices. Sometimes the products are being diluted or occasionally you don't know what is being used. Hopefully it's a legitimate product but when it isn't you can run into situations like these ladies have gone through," Dr. Munavalli said.

Dr. Munavalli was not the doctor who caused the problems.  He says he has used fillers very successfully with patients, even with advanced deep volume enhancement.

However he has been willing to step in and help these women try to reverse the effects.

"It wasn't until the right side of my face started to fall down that it became obvious that there was something wrong," said Betty Roseman.

She had fat injections in her cheeks 14 years ago and is still dealing with the after effects. Doctors diagnosed her with everything from lupus to cancer before realizing the redness and swelling had to have come from the injections.

"It was a mistake I definitely regret," added Lee'A Brim. She had her silicone injections in her cheeks and lips at one of those plumper parties and now she says she hates looking in the mirror.

Dr. Munavalli is trying his best to help reverse the effects but sometimes, he says, the effects are worse and irreversible.

"In the past six months there have been multiple reported cases of blindness with filler injections in certain parts of the face. The nose and the brow area particularly. There are many arteries and veins in that area and if the person doing the injecting isn't familiar with the anatomy of the face often that blindness cannot be reversed," Dr. Munavalli said.

Patients like Melissa Pollak say no line or wrinkle is worth unnecessary risks.

"Do your research, please, before you make any decisions," Pollak said.

The American Society for Dermatologic Surgery has guidelines your physician should follow.

Dr. Munavalli says you should also make sure he or she explains the possible complications that can arise with the use of fillers and how they can be reversed. He adds if you're not asked to sign a consent form that should be seen as a red flag.

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