A SINGLE mum-of-four has revealed she could have been left blind after an untrained beauty technician injected lip filler into her artery.
Lindsay Collins, from County Down, Northern Ireland, bought herself a £240 Botox and filler package deal as a 38th birthday treat – and joined a growing group of women getting botched procedures here in Britain.
The sales executive was left unable to leave the house for a month after her lip swelled up to three times its normal size and turned blue.
In May, MPs warned too many Brits are being left with "dreadful" physical and mental scars from 'quick fix' Botox and fillers – fuelled by cheap deals, celeb endorsements and social media ads.
Lindsay told Fabulous Digital: "The beautician injected into my artery, which could have travelled up and made me go blind. When I heard that, my heart just sunk.
"I have four beautiful children and to think I could have gone blind and not seen them getting married, graduating, it just doesn’t even bear thinking about.
"I could have lost my top lip, I was very, very lucky. For a long time I beat myself up thinking ‘why did I do that?’ But it wasn’t my fault, it’s the people who are injecting without qualifications."
Lindsay – who is mum to Shannon, 19, Bryce, 16, Leland, 10, and Cayden, six – got the work done two days after her birthday, on Friday September 28 last year.
She decided to get the injections because she felt "everyone's doing it nowadays" – as recent surveys found two thirds of women would consider getting cosmetic tweaks.
By the Monday, her top lip has swollen to three times its usual size and was coloured black and blue.
She said: "My lip was swollen like it was about to burst, it felt like it was about to explode.
"It felt like somebody pouring a boiling kettle of water over my top lip and gum.
My lip was swollen like it was about to burst, it felt like it was about to explode
"I’ve given birth four times and I would rather do it again than feel that pain.
"I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t talk, couldn’t eat. I had to drink water but I was sucking it through a straw, it was just horrible.
"I didn’t want to go out, didn’t want to speak to anybody. My 16-year-old son couldn’t even look at me.
"He said to me ‘mum I’m physically going to be sick’, he was heaving and everything. It was a terrible time."
Lindsay got her lips done in an upstairs treatment room at the beautician's house, on a colleague's recommendation.
In November 2018, Prime Minister Theresa May vowed to tighten regulations on the cosmetic service industry – but no such laws have been introduced.
She said: "It's something I've always wanted done, but never had the spare cash to do it.
"I got some money for my birthday so I thought ‘this is the time to treat myself’.
"My lips weren't overly thin before, I just wanted them a bit fuller.
"My colleague had been to this lady three times before, so I thought it would be OK. She came with me to get more lip fillers and she was fine.
My 16-year-old son couldn’t even look at me. He said to me ‘mum I’m physically going to be sick’, he was heaving and everything
"When I met the beautician, she put some numbing cream on each of our lips, chatted to us for five minutes, then took us upstairs to the beauty room.
"She did my colleague’s lip first, then she did Botox on my forehead and then she started injecting the filler into my lips.
"It was over 1ml, she seemed to put a lot in my top lip and hardly any in my bottom one.
"My lip went a blue, greenish colour straightaway, but I do bruise easily.
"She said ‘some people bruise more than others. It’s OK, just leave it, it will go away in a week’. The pain I was in for the next month was excruciating."
The infection continued to get worse overnight and a worried Lindsay sent pictures to the beautician on Saturday morning.
She said: "She offered me some penicillin which she said she’d got off her boyfriend who’s a dentist.
"She had a look at my lip but it was the same thing, she tried to pass it off as bruising.
"She said ‘don’t panic, it’ll heal up in a few days, it’s just because you bruise so easily, take the penicillin anyway just to be on the safe side’."
But, by the Monday, Lindsay's top lip had a huge pus-filled sore.
She said: "When I sent her pictures of that, she said ‘you need to get to A&E straightaway’.
"I went to Down Patrick A&E, I was really ashamed and embarrassed I had done this.
"The nurse said ‘don’t worry about it, girls get it done every day now, but you really should check the person you’re getting it done with’.
"She gave me a seven-day course of the strongest antibiotics she could. Then I went back to my GP and she gave me another week."
Lindsay has since had the fillers taken out of her lips, after a registered nurse who does beauty treatments offered to do so for free.
But her hellish ordeal has continued, with Lindsay being left permanently scarred by the procedure.
She said: "I was off work for a month, and didn't leave the house at all, but the impact was mental as well as physical for me.
"I was depressed and very conscious of my appearance. Whenever I spoke to anybody, I could see them looking at that scar on my lip.
"It took four weeks for the swelling to go down, but the scarring was a lot longer than that.
"It went crusty like a massive cold sore – that took about two months to come off.
"I was working from home for a while, then gradually started going out and seeing clients.
How to have Botox and fillers safely
You should always do your research and take time to find a reputable practitioner.
Save Face, which is a government-approved register, provides a list of people who are qualified here.
Make sure the treatment is carried out in a clean, safe and appropriate environment.
Before you have Botox or fillers you should always ask your consultant what qualifications they have, what brands they're using and if they've been extensively tested.
People with damaged nerves or muscle complaints should make sure whoever is carrying out Botox treatment is aware of this.
And Botox, along with fillers, is not advised for anyone who is pregnant or breastfeeding.
If you have problems take up the issues with your practioner as soon as possible.
And if you need medical attention, go straight to your GP or local A&E.
"The top of my lip underneath the nostril on the left-hand side is still all red, scarred and when I touch that part of the lip there’s no feeling in it.
"The doctor in the hospital said the scarring will always be there but I might over time get feeling back in the lip.
"I can have laser treatment for the scarring on the top of my lip, I’m trying to save for that."
It’s scary that you can walk into anybody’s house and get those treatments done
The Department of Health is investigating Lindsay's situation, while she is taking out legal action against the beautician – who wasn't insured.
Lindsay is campaigning for tighter laws to be introduced, to stop unregistered beauticians from selling filler treatments.
She said: "This girl was clearly very inexperienced. It’s scary that you can walk into anybody’s house and get those treatments done.
"If I go into a beautician and want my eyebrows tinted, I have to fill out a consultation form, I have to get a patch test.
"They have to be insured, they have to be registered. The legislation for fillers should definitely be the same.
"If anybody's thinking about getting it done, I would say do you research first."
Yesterday, we revealed how ‘dangerous’ YouTube videos show you how to inject fillers and Botox into your own face – and have been branded ‘deadly’ by doctors.
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