Kudos to Callie: This is Why We Teach Complications!

Without training to recognize and treat complications, someone could get hurt. Perhaps seriously. A Toronto woman was lucky her problem was spotted by a THMA Consulting colleague who sure knows now the importance of learning about risks and complications.

It was only by chance that Callie Dunne RN saw what the woman’s face looked like. It was four days after she had an injection treatment to soften her nasolabial folds. And at least two other injectors didn’t see the problem before Callie was shown her photo.

Stock photo: classic vascular occlusion

“With the bruising and white patches near the fold and on her nose, I could tell she had obvious signs of vascular occlusion,” Callie told me. “And I said she should do something about this immediately. She needs more treatment, she needs hyaluronidase. And right away.”

A vascular occlusion is when the hyaluronic acid filler is inadvertently injected into the blood vessel, interrupts blood flow and can cause breakdown tissue. Two things can then happen.

If the vessel is occluded at the point of injection then the surrounding area becomes discoloured and or mottled in appearance.  Tissue breakdown, or necrosis, may occur which can result in facial scarring.

The product might also travel through the blood vessel and lodge anywhere along the vessel pathway. A worse case scenario, though extremely rare, would be the product could occlude a vessel in the back of the eye and cause blindness.

It’s dangerous in any case. But that’s why all practitioners should be trained to recognize and treat complications.

In this Toronto patient’s case, at least two injectors didn’t have that safety knowledge.

Callie Dunne RN – “People take shortcuts.”

Callie says the woman returned to the clinic two days after her nasolabial treatment to question the look of her face. She was told it was a mild bruise and would soon go away. No big deal.

So, she went to a second clinic, one where a colleague of Callie’s also didn’t recognize the telltale signs of a vascular occlusion.  The colleague did take a photo, and she showed it to Callie the next day.

Callie said she was shocked that others missed what she saw as an obvious sign of a serious complication.

“I think too many people take shortcuts. They don’t put the time and money and effort into learning these things.”

Callie took supplemental and mentoring courses training with us, and has also attended our Professional Development Symposiums and webinars where risks and complications are primary topics of discussion.

Our training is based on clinical research with complications being our main focus. Visualizing and discussing real complications can sometimes be terrifying but the right amount of anxiety is good. It is not a scare tactic but when you know more, you do better.

Practitioners should be concerned about outcomes. No-one should have the attitude that they’ll just inject a filler into a space and everything will be fine.

Participants learn how to become skilled injectors and avoid problems, of course. But knowing about complications and how to treat adverse reactions is a key to being a safe practitioner.

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The importance of this education certainly rings true to Callie.

“You can’t be cheap,” she said bluntly. “There are no shortcuts. People think they can just take a quick course and jump right in. You can’t. Not without risking patient safety. You need hands-on training and mentoring like THMA Consulting does, and you need to do webinars and seminars on for ongoing safety training.”

Like any medical procedure – and that’s what aesthetics procedures injections are – there are risks. You can’t ignore that fact or think it’ll never happen.

It does or can happen to everyone, including me.

Proper training gives you the knowledge and confidence to recognize a problem right away and how to manage it.

But ignore it and it becomes a complication. A potentially serious one.

And like that unfortunate woman who Callie encouraged to get immediate help, no-one wants that.