A Cross-sectional Analysis of Adverse Events and Litigation for Injectable Fillers

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ImportanceInjectable fillers are increasing in popularity as a noninvasive option to address concerns related to facial aging and volume loss. To our knowledge, there have been no large-scale analyses of adverse events and associated litigation related to filler injections.ObjectivesTo determine risks of injectable fillers and analyze factors raised in litigation related to injectable fillers.Design, Setting, and ParticipantsIn this cross-sectional review, the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) manufacturer and user facility device experience (MAUDE) database was evaluated for complications from the use of the following fillers: Juvederm, Restylane, Belotero, Sculptra, Radiesse, Artefill, Bellafill, and Juvederm Voluma from 2014 to 2016. The Westlaw Next database was used to identify jury verdicts. Main Outcomes and MeasuresComplications were organized by type of filler used, location of injection, and severity. Intra-arterial injections without sequelae and those resulting in blindness or necrosis were considered severe complications. Factors raised during the litigation process were also analyzed.ResultsOf 1748 adverse events analyzed, most cases stemmed from cheek (751 [43.0%]) or lip (524 [30.0%]) injection. Commonly reported adverse events reported included swelling (755 [43.2%]) and infection (725 [41.5%]). Among FDA-reported complications, blindness was significantly associated with dorsal nasal injections (P < .001). Vascular compromise with and without sequela of dermal necrosis and blindness were significantly associated with Radiesse injections P < .001. Of the 9 malpractice cases identified, two-thirds involved allegations of inadequate informed consent, and the median award in cases resolved with payment was $262 000.Conclusions and RelevanceAlthough specific complication profiles vary by material and injection site, common adverse events associated with injectable fillers include swelling and infection. More serious events include vascular compromise, resulting in necrosis and blindness; these events are also raised in cases involving litigation. This analysis illustrates the importance of outlining these risks in a comprehensive preoperative informed consent process.Level of EvidenceNA.

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