The ‘DIY’ Medical Trend to Avoid

With the popularity of websites like Etsy and Instructables and shows like Fixer Upper, the do-it-yourself, or “DIY,” movement shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, no matter what you want to do, chances are there’s a YouTube video tutorial to show you how. But while redoing your own kitchen or knitting your own scarf can be a lot of fun and even save you (or earn you!) a few dollars, there’s one DIY trend that has the medical community on high alert: do-it-yourself cosmetic procedures.

It’s a growing trend around the country: men and women visiting salons and unlicensed practitioners for discounted cosmetic procedures like Botox, hyaluronic acid and other fillers, and in some cases purchasing the fillers to inject at home. But while this may save you some up-front costs, it could cost you more in the long run. That’s because along with this rash of discounted procedures, plastic surgeons are reporting an increase of botched procedures, some of them fatal.

According to Dr. Bruce Chau of Berkley, Michigan, it’s easy for mistakes to happen when dealing with amateur practitioners.

“A lot of these people who offer discounted procedures are buying products online that may or may not be authentic,” Chau said. “Then they watch a YouTube video about how to inject the product, and they think they’re a doctor.”

This of course means the product could be anything. Several women along the East Coast died recently when they were injected with industrial-grade silicone sealant from a discount surgeon, and another woman was injected with cement and tire sealant.

“Some of these people deliberately use dangerous products because they can’t get their hands on medical-grade products,” Chau said. “But even those who think they’re using authentic products may not be without even realizing it.”

And then there’s the issue of the YouTube video training.

“You don’t know if the person in that video is licensed or properly trained, so even if you perfectly execute a procedure exactly how you see it on YouTube, you can still miss the mark by a mile,” Chau said.

This can lead to its own series of complications, ranging from an uneven-looking final result to a serious infection to even accidentally injecting filler into an artery, which, according to Chau, can be fatal.

“Without extensive medical training in cosmetic and plastic surgery, most of these practitioners are just guessing where to put fillers – even if they’re a doctor,” he said. “You would think a dentist would know the muscles of the face, but just because he’s familiar with the buccal muscles doesn’t mean he knows how to properly fill crow’s feet. And trust me, your hairdresser isn’t going to be any more knowledgeable.”

For best results, Chau recommends only going to a licensed and board-certified plastic surgeon for cosmetic procedures.

“A plastic surgeon will be trained and certified on all of the services he or she offers,” he said. “And if something goes wrong, he or she knows what to do in an emergency, like what medicines to prescribe or how to stop a bad reaction. Saving a few dollars isn’t worth risking your life.”