Injectable Filler Used in Costa Rica, Not FDA Approved

My doc in Costa Rica suggested a type of filler which I knew wasn't approved in Canada or the US. He hinted that it was like Restylane (but it was not actually Restylane). I'm wondering what he actually injected into me. Have you heard of any commonly used injectable fillers that are not FDA approved?  Should I be worried?

Doctor Answers 2

Costa Rica Cosmetic Injections

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With the popularity of cosmetic surgery now expanding globally, there is no shortage of off-shore spas, hospitals, and doctors looking to cash in on the market. Medical tourism has become very popular, as patients seek lower-cost alternatives to care at home in the USA.

Patients who travel outside the U.S. for cosmetic treatments step out from under the regulatory umbrella of the FDA and national and state credentialing entities, as well as legal protection against medical malpractice, that exist to protect patients in the states.

What substances may be injected into patients in these un-regulated settings is anyone's guess. Patients often return to the states, where they find it difficult to locate physicians willing to take on the responsibility of treating complications of these unknown injectables or other medical and surgical treatments.

Your best bet is to stay at home for medical treatments. Although it may be more expensive, it is less likely you will get a serving of mystery meat that you'll wish you hadn't eaten!

Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Facial Injection of Unknown Non-FDA Approved Filler in Costa Rica

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Dear Charlenex,

It probably seemed like a good idea at the time, but it is never a good idea to have an unknown substance injected into your face in a foreign country, especially if it is not FDA approved. There are a plethora of non- FDA approved fillers used in other countries, as well as in the United States by "practioners" with suitcases full of product. These practioners will inject patients in their homes or out of hotel rooms.

I would contact your "injector" in Costa Rica to find out the exact substance that was injected. I recently have treated two patients who were injected by a "doctor" in a New York hotel room. They had what they were told was "something like Restylane", the only problem was that two years later they still have abnormal lumps in their unnaturally large lips. When they contacted the "doctor", he told them to fly from LA to NY, and that he would inject Kenalog (a steroid) to "dissolve” the material. When I tried calling the "doctors office", I found that it was voice mail only, and not surprisingly, the voice mail box was full. I never received a return phone call.

You only need to worry if you have an adverse event. It will certainly help to know what the heck was put into your lips. In the future, seek out a board certified physician in one of the cosmetically trained specialties. You may pay a little more, but your peace of mind is worth it. The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery tells patients to "Trust Your Face to a Facial Plastic Surgeon”.

Dr. P

Michael A. Persky, MD
Encino Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 39 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.