Adverse Events With Cosmetic Skin Procedures Rare

Overall incidence was 0.24 percent

Minor cosmetic dermatology procedures safe

A new report shows that the majority of minor cosmetic dermatology procedures are safe and produce little to no adverse events. (Photo: Bigstock)

Some of the most common cosmetic dermatology procedures, including laser, other forms of energy and injection therapy, have been found to have little, if any, adverse events related to them according to a recent analysis of a large prospective database.

The analysis found a total of 48 adverse events that occurred in over 20,000 cosmetic procedures. Out of all the adverse events that did occur, none were found to be serious or life-threatening, and no incidence of hospitalization, mortality, serious illness or permanent injury were reported. The most common events were transient bruising or redness, minor hyper- or hypopigmentation or temporary “bumps” at the injection site for injectable treatments.

Murad Alam, MD, of Northwestern University in Chicago, and colleagues reported their findings online in JAMA Dermatology.

“The principal finding was what we had expected; basically, that the adverse event rate after minor cosmetic procedures is very low,” Alam said. “But it was a surprise at just how low the rate was. Not only was the rate very low, but the types of events we found were very innocuous.”

First of its kind

This is good news for the growing number of cosmetic procedures dermatologists perform every year. Even with the large numbers, adverse events had not been well documented up to this point. This is largely due to a lack of data on the subject. In order to avoid this, Alam and his colleagues approached the study from a unique standpoint. The main focus was to select a specific subset of patients – those treated with noninvasive and minimally invasive procedures involving lasers energy devices and injectable neurotoxins and fillers – and look at how frequent adverse events occurred in those patients.

“We included certain kinds of cosmetic procedures that are quite common,” said Alam. “Among those procedures would be filler procedures – injectable, prepackaged fillers for facial augmentation – neurotoxins and a number of laser and energy devices.” Laser and energy devices can include procedures such as hair removal, tattoo treatment and removal and wrinkle and fine line treatments.

By the numbers

The new study involved 23 cosmetic dermatologists across eight different locations. Researchers looked at data from procedures of interest performed between March 28 and December 30, 2011. This data included initial observations by participating dermatologists, patient-reported events and follow-up contact with patients via telephone. If an adverse event was suspected but not observed by a dermatologist, patients were asked to return for a follow-up exam within 24 hours.

In total the data was made up from 20,399 procedures, and the total incidence of adverse events was 0.24 percent. Adverse events were most commonly associated with procedures involving the cheeks, eyelids and nasolabial, or “laugh lines.”

“This multicenter prospective study of a large cohort of consecutively performed cosmetic procedures demonstrates that adverse events are uncommon after minimally invasive and noninvasive laser, energy device, filler and neurotoxin procedures,” the authors wrote. “Most adverse events were types that would be expected to resolve with treatment over weeks or months.”

“Patients seeking such procedures can be reassured that, at least in the hands of trained, board-certified dermatologists, [these procedures] pose minimal risk.”

For more information on the large scale study, click here: Few Adverse Events With Cosmetic Skin Procedures.


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