Dr Lisa Delamaine MBBS BSc(Hons) is Medical Director of Persona Cosmetic Medicine and an established, advanced, aesthetic practitioner.
She runs her clinic in Kent specialising in advanced non-surgical aesthetic procedures.
Having been an aesthetic practitioner for many years now, I know a thing or two about this industry. However no matter how much you think you know I have found out to my dismay that it is always possible to be convinced about a treatment that simply does not do what it says on the tin! In fact quite the opposite!
A few years ago I was looking for a solution for my patients who required cheek augmentation and volumising. At the time options for non surgical treatments were limited. Then I was introduced to Bio-Alcamid, a polyacrylamide gel that according to the manufacturers would be the answer to my dreams. As it turns out it has been my worst nightmare. Bio-Alcamid is manufactured by an Italian company called Polymekon. It is a polyalkylimide gel that when injected in the correct volume and tissue plane becomes encapsulated by connective tissue. As a result this prevents the gel from migrating, being non allergenic and pyrogenic and easy to remove if necessary or required. So you can imagine my horror when patients started to present months to years after their treatment with lumps all over their faces.
As it turns out Bio-Alcamid does migrate, can cause low grade chronic infection and is extremely difficult to remove if possible at all. This has resulted in me spending hours upon hours dealing with these complications at a huge cost to my company. When removal has been successful, patients have undergone many procedures leaving scarring and pigmentation. In some cases non surgical removal has been impossible and invasive surgical correction was required. And in some cases correction has not been possible.
This has been the single most horrifying experience in my medical career and has bought me close to giving up the job I love and am good at. I have never ever had a serious complication with any other treatment and have brought much happiness to the patients I have treated. But this single most distressing thing about all of this is the total lack of support and advice from the manufacturers of Bio-Alcamid. In fact to this day, complete denial that there is anything wrong with their product.
Unfortunately I am not alone. My research into this has shown that many aesthetic practitioners out there have had similar experiences to me. And these people are very experienced and renowned aesthetic practitioners. The stories are all too familiar with little if any advice from the manufacturer about how to deal with these complications, in fact in some cases us being blamed for incorrect injection technique. If we were new kids on the block then maybe, but when you are as experienced as we are, you know where and how to inject. Problems with incorrect injection technique materialise very quickly after treatment. So how come these complications are presenting months to years later. Could it be possible that the capsule which apparently keeps Bio-Alcamid in place is simply not strong enough to stand the test of time or natural forces? Can all of us practitioners, with our years of experience, have all performed this procedure incorrectly? I don’t think so. My main concern now is how many more problems will come out of the woodwork in the coming years, and even more worryingly is that this product is still being injected into people’s faces. However I am unaware of any insurance company that will provide a practitioner with cover for this product and my own insurers are dealing with increasing numbers of cases.
We all know the pitfalls of semi permanent and permanent fillers and apart from Bio-Alcamid I have not used any others. However, when this is supposedly easy to remove and provides the long term solution for patients deciding to use this product I think my actions were within reason.
My reasons for writing this article are to highlight this worrying situation and to call for any of you who have had experience with this product to contact me. I and those colleagues who are battling with these complications are sick of being blamed and pushed aside by the manufacturers. It’s time to act now and make them take responsibility for their actions and their product.