Are Your Fillers the Real Deal?

Navigating through the world of fillers and injectables can be tricky. Not only do you need to educate yourself on the difference between neuromodulators (think Botox, Dysport and Xeomin), hyaluronic acid fillers (like Restylane, Juvéderm and Perlane) and collagen stimulators (such as Sculptra Aesthetic and Radiesse) and understand what purpose each one serves, but you also need to make sure that what you’re being injected with is the real deal. “The problem with fillers is that there are so many counterfeit ones out there and people don’t know what they’re getting,” says Beverly Hills, CA, dermatologist Rhonda Rand, MD. “They’re packaged to look like the real thing—the boxes look similar but you have no idea what’s really in these products. These counterfeit products can contain dangerous materials or contaminants so you really have to be wary.”

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Before anything is ever injected into your face, rule number one is to make sure that only a board-certified dermatologist, plastic surgeon or facial plastic surgeon, who happens to be an expert injector, is the one wielding the needle. “You always want to go to someone who’s a board-certified doctor because they know how to handle skin complications should they arise. Plus, they’re usually better trained and have a better injecting technique,” says Dr. Rand.

Once you know you’re in good hands, ask to see the products that your doctor plans to inject. If you don’t know what’s being used on you—or worse off, your injector can’t tell you where the product has been purchased or show proof that it was bought directly through the manufacturer—you’re probably better off not putting anything into your face at all. “Personally, I would never buy any type of injectable if it wasn’t being purchased from an official distributor,” says Dr. Rand.

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While they may be a less-expensive option than FDA-approved injectables, the only thing that you can be sure of getting is the potential for risks and complications. Nodules and granulomas are often the trade-off for nondescript fillers being used, which are pretty hard to remove and sometimes need to be cut out.  You can also be left with an infection or scarring.

“To save 50 bucks and go to some fly-by-night place to have something you have no idea what it is injected into your face just isn’t worth it, in my opinion,” says Dr. Rand.

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  • Kerri
    Posted on

    Is there a website where one can find a list of all official distributors of injectables?

  • Posted on

    I would like to second the comments by Dr. Rand in this article. Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous people out there, even in today's day and age, who will inject counterfeit, or unapproved, fillers and toxins just to save a bit of money. And, unfortunately there are people out there who somehow keep paying them to do it. and that is how they stay alive. I just heard of another case, right here in San Diego, CA last week in which a physician was discovered to be injecting fillers not approved by the FDA and obtained from outside the US borders. Even though these might have been produced by the actual manufacturer and approved for use in countries other than the US, we have no way of knowing that, as the "chain of custody" maintained by the US distribution system has been broken. There is no way to tell exactly what is crossing the border in this way. Furthermore, FDA regulations, while sometimes a pain in the neck, are there to keep us safe and to ensure that the drugs and devices we are using have been fully tested and found to be safe and effective. Things are sometimes a bit more expensive here in the US, but there is a reason for that. It pays for the complex system which keeps our drugs and medical devices safe and reliable, and it keeps physicians honest in their practice. While it's a very subtle point, unlike counterfeit products, even real products made by a bona fide manufacturer, should never be used in the US if they are not products made for use in the US and approved for use by the FDA. Furthermore, any doctor or other practitioner who would recommend or agree to inject such products is not only in violation of the law, but in my opinion is ethically corrupt and should know better. Always be sure what you are having injected and by whom.

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