Lip service: what are the dangers of discount dermal fillers?
Former BBC’s The Apprentice winner Dr Leah Totton has warned that "cosmetic cowboys" working in the unregulated beauty industry are ruining the lives of vulnerable young men and women.
The popularity of injectables such as dermal fillers and Botox has soared in recent years, with a 2017 study conducted by Cork University Hospital found that Ireland was the global leader for online searches for lip filler, and the third for Botox searches.
Sadly the number of rogue operators carrying out unregulated practices has also increased.
Dr Totton, originally from Derry, says the lack of regulation can have a disastrous impact on patient's physicality and their lives.
"It's scary to think that anyone can set up a clinic and basically do what they want without any real checks going into whether they have the right people in the right positions," begins the doctor, who has just opened her third clinic in the Baker Street region of London.
"I'm seeing more and more cases of people under the age of 25 having problems with dermal filler treatments that they have had done in tanning salons, waxing parlours and nail bars. How can this be allowed to continue?"
"You can walk into any of these places and have deal filler injected into your lips and you just don't know what the result will be. I can't buy the filler we use in our clinics for the price they are charging for full treatments and that says all you need to know about the danger of signing up for procedures that can have hugely damaging results.
Dr Totton encourages patients to research and find out what exactly is being injected into their faces and bodies before undergoing procedures.
"What are they injecting into people? When you see the disastrous results of some of these treatments, it's frightening to believe no-one in positions of power are trying to deal with this issue.
"It is not just the bad physical results of these treatments that concern me as there are serious health issues to consider here as well. There have been cases where people have lost their eyesight due to bad dermal fillers, we have seen stories where people have lost parts of their lips and the top of their noses when treatments go wrong and people have to be aware of this.
"You cannot put your trust in fly-by-night cosmetic cowboys who will fill in for a day or two and then disappear. There is no accountability, not traceability and no insurance if things go wrong.
She added that the patient has to foot the bill if the cosmetic surgery goes wrong.
"The problem is this is price driven and typically, it's the younger end of the market that are vulnerable to these cut-price deals because they don't have the disposable income older people might possess.
"I believe that all dermal filters should be made prescription only... You need a doctor to prescribe these treatments to ensure they are fully qualified and we need politicians to step up and our safeguards in place."
With a fourth Dr Leah clinic set to open in the heart of London's financial district in the near future, she has now set her sights on bringing her success story to Ireland. However she says Brexit may impact on business.
"I would love to have clinic back home in Derry, but the business conditions may be better suited to opening up in Dublin," she adds.
"We will wait and see how Brexit pans out, but it would be great to think we could have a Dr Leah clinic in Dublin as I feel it would work so well there.
"The city is booming once again and the market would be there for these kinds of treatments. My business partner Lord Sugar doesn't have any business interests in Ireland as far as I know, so I'd love to change that by opening a clinic in the heart of the Irish capital."