FDA, doctors warn against popular DIY hyaluron filler pens

Published: October 29, 2021 12:19 PM EDT
Updated: October 29, 2021 5:54 PM EDT

The desire for beauty may be teetering into dangerous territory for some. The F.D.A. recently warned against a beauty tool that was making the rounds online and on social media.

Cosmetic procedures can be quite pricey, and that’s what makes do-it-yourself facial filler devices so attractive. They’re used to plump lips and cheeks, but these needle-free pens are dangerous in the wrong hands.

Anja Grochowski, 19, says she uses filler. “There’s a lot of pressure these days to have a very perfect, proportionate face.”

Beauty may seem superficial to some, but Grochowski said, “Ever since I was probably 14 or 15, I’ve honestly thought about it.”

But the desire to achieve perfection cuts much deeper. “I wanted my top lip to match my bottom lip pretty much, and have my entire face be pretty proportionate,” she said.

To fulfill her desire for plump lips, Grochowski went to Fort Myers doctor Giselle Prado-Wright MD, M.B.A.

However, many people attempt to do it themselves. D.I.Y. fillers are widely available online, claiming a painless, punctureless experience — doctors disagree.

Dr. Prado-Wright said, “This is not at all like getting a facial or getting your eyebrows done. These can be dangerous procedures. So, what people don’t realize is there’s a lot of blood flow in the area when you do fillers … as medical professionals, we know at what depth to put the filler, how quickly to inject that filler, what filler to use in what area and all of that makes a difference.”

It’s such a science, the F.D.A. issued a safety alert, warning consumers of the dangers of needle-free, hyaluron pens … The ones popping up all over social media.

“The device relies on extremely pressurized air to administer a nonmedical grade hyaluronic acid at high speed into the skin. This creates a stream of hyaluronic acid that spreads under the skin of the lips,” According to the Aesthetic & Dermatology Center.

YouTuber Maddie Joy allowed us to share her bad filler experience. She accepted the risks, but didn’t expect the results. “It hurt so freaking bad, I was like O.M.G. immediately, it was like bruised and swollen.”

Dr. Prado-Wright said, “Basically, it’s really high pressure is pushing that filler past your, skin barrier. And that filler just dissipates. There’s no control of where it goes.”

Joy was stuck with lumpy lips.

If it happened at a professional office, there would have been a fix.

“If there’s ever an emergency, this is what we would use,” Dr. Prado-Wright explained. “It’s called hylenex and it dissolves hyaluronic acid fillers,”

While, hyaluron pens may be cheaper than a doctor’s visit, but there’s also the potential for bad consequences.

“They’re not weighing the cost of when they get a bad result, they either have to go to the E.R. for an infection, or they have to come to me to dissolve that filler,” she added—potentially costing a lot more in the end.

“It looks pretty bad, I’m not gonna lie,” Joy said. “It looks pretty bad.”

In its safety communication, the F.D.A. states it is aware of serious injuries from these dermal pens and has not approved the devices for over-the-counter sale. It goes on to recommend that no one, even professionals, use them. ​