Injecting fillers into the forehead to remove wrinkles could lead to permanent blindness, according to a new report.
Scientists said that injecting fillers around the eye area for facial rejuvenation could cause irreversible damage.
The US Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of fat, collagen and other special cosmetic products, but only if they are injected in the middle parts of the face – such as around the mouth – Live Science reports.
But doctors often use the substances as “off-label” to smooth out wrinkles around the eye and on the forehead, said study author Dr Michelle Carle, an ophthalmologist at Retina Vitreous Associates Medical Group in Los Angeles.
The fillers can then accidentally get into small blood vessels on the face, and find their way into the eye’s artery and block its blood supply, Dr Carle told Live Science.
“While this complication is very rare, it is very significant. A bruise will go away, but vision loss is permanent,” she said.
Dr Carle and her colleagues treated three patients who permanently lost their vision in one or both eyes after undergoing cosmetic procedures, according to the report published in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology.
One woman in her mid-40s lost the sight in her right eye after she received an injection of bovine collagen and a dermal filler product called Artefill to remove her forehead creases, the researchers said.
Another patient, a man in his 30s, lost some vision in his left eye following an injection of a gel called hyaluronic acid. The blood supply to parts of his retina had been blocked, according to the report.
And a woman in her 60s experienced severe loss of vision after receiving fat injections around her hairline, the researchers said.
Any injection done in the eye area poses a risk of material entering the intricate web of arteries and blood vessels surrounding the eye. The visual effects of a blockage are devastating and irreversible in otherwise healthy patients, the researchers said.
Complications from these cosmetic procedures are rare, but cases of blindness, stroke and even death have been previously reported, according to the report.
"We recommend that blindness or significant visual loss be added as a risk when discussing these procedures with patients, because these are devastating consequences,” the researchers said.