Buttock Fillers Cause Infection a Year Later

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A 29-year-old woman in Dublin underwent hospitalization after developing sepsis; more than a year after receiving buttock fillers.

In 2014, Kim Kardashian’s controversial cover for Paper magazine led to a significant increase in butt lifts. Later, in 2015, her sister, Kylie Jenner admitted to getting lip augmentation, leading to an increased interest in lip fillers. With the Kardashians becoming a household name, there seems to be a rise in unrealistic beauty standards for women across the world. According to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery’s Global Survey, non-surgical cosmetic procedures increased by 50% between 2015 and 2019. Although the Kardashians are not responsible for it all, it cannot be denied that celebrities and influencers have significantly altered the definition of ‘beauty for the masses. And while we can’t judge what someone does with their body, it is important that people are made aware of the potential risks of cosmetic procedures. One such study highlights the risk of delayed infection from buttock fillers.

Complications are increasing as fillers become one of the fastest-growing cosmetic procedures. It’s something both cosmetic patients and health professionals need to be aware of

Dr Siobhan Quirke, lead author

The newly released case report narrates the case of a 29-year-old woman who had received dermal fillers for buttock enlargement. She had presented to St. James Hospital in Dublin with complaints of nausea and an abscess around her injection site. Examination revealed a 15cm large area of cellulitis – a potentially life-threatening condition – surrounding the abscess. Imaging scans showed the spread of inflammation down to the innermost layer of skin of both the buttocks. Moreover, air pockets within the tissue confirmed infection with gas-forming organisms.

Reason For Delay Unclear

Doctors at the hospital immediately drained the abscess and started her on antibiotics. Blood culture revealed bacteria Staphylococcus lugdunensis and Pseudomonas oryzihabitans. S. lugdunensis causes severe infections and P. oryzihabitans is a rare cause of skin and soft tissue infections.

Five days later, the patient’s abscess was drained again and around half a litre of dead tissue and filler material was removed from the area. Doctors started her on intravenous antibiotics and 18 days later she was discharged from the hospital. The patient completed a further 6-week antibiotic course at home. Since then, she has recovered completely.

Injectable fillers have become common among people undergoing cosmetic procedures. Likely because they are cheaper and less invasive than surgical procedures. Fillers often contain chemicals such as hyaluronic acid and calcium hydroxylapatite. However, the exact composition varies from brand to brand.

It is unclear as to why the patient developed an infection 14 months after receiving the fillers. Fortunately, treatment of the infection is possible thanks to a low level of resistance.

The reason for the substantial delay between surgery and infection is not clear but may be due to the unusual organisms that can live on the surface of the dermal filler (known as a biofilm). Pseudomonas oryzihabitans is an unusual cause of human infection, but in recent years it has become increasingly linked with hospital-acquired and opportunistic infections.

Dr Siobhan Quirke, lead author

Although complications following dermal filler are extremely rare, authors of the study warn of a rise in infections as the procedures become increasingly popular.

Source: European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ECCMID 2021)


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