Popularity of injectables leads to huge rise in reported corrective procedures

There were 934 complaints lodged with Save Face against non-surgical procedures by unregistered practitioners between 2017 and 2018.

This figure was up from 378 between 2016 and 2017, an increase of 556 complaints. 

Save Face is a voluntary register for accredited practitioners of non-surgical treatments. In its Consumer Complaints Audit Report 2017-2018, the register reported that of the sub-standard treatments it heard about, 387 had resulted in the patient seeking out corrective procedures by other practitioners.

The majority of complaints were about dermal filler procedures, and this was also the treatment that saw the biggest increase in reported issues – from 252 in 2016-2017 to the 616 patients that reported unsatisfactory results in the latest report.

Most (72%) related to lip filler, while 13% were tear trough treatments, 9% cheek filler and 6% a non-surgical rhinoplasty, where filler is injected into the bridge of the nose to even out the shape.

Of the complaints, 156 patients reported lumps and nodules in the injected area post-treatment, 122 felt they looked worse, 27 developed an infection and six suffered from vascular occlusion or impending necrosis – potentially life-threatening conditions.

Bad botox 

There were 224 botulinum toxin procedures reported compared to 98 in the previous period, and of these 76% of patients were unaware that the medicine was prescription-only. 68% didn’t have face-to-face consultation with a prescriber and 31% didn’t know what qualifications or training their practitioner had.

11% of botulinum toxin cases took place at a “botox party”, and eight practitioners were found to be pretending to be healthcare professionals when investigated by Save Face.

57 complained about asymmetrical results, 38 said they saw no result at all and four reported blurred vision following the treatment. Other complaints included swelling and bruising, drooping of the eyelid or brow and a “frozen” look.

Most (62%) of the unregistered practitioners involved in the reported treatments were found by patients via social media, while 18% came from discount voucher websites.

Perhaps most concerning, 84% of patients said they didn’t know what products were used or where they were sourced from. Upon investigation by Save Face, 30% of practitioners investigated were believed to be importing product from overseas via the internet. 

Aside from injectables, Save Face also received 42 complaints regarding laser and IPL, up from 11 in 2016-2017, 26 for thread lifts, up from 7; 11 relating to chemical peels, up from five, eight dermaroller incidents, up from three; and seven plasma treatments, up from two. 

The biggest number of complaints came from the 18-25 age group, making up 48% of reported cases.


62% of Brits ages 18–34 are considering undergoing a non-surgical aesthetic treatment in the next 12 months.