Minor Cosmetic Skin Procedures Had Few Complications

Minor cosmetic procedures performed by board certified dermatologists found to have few complications

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Cosmetic skin procedures have become more common in recent years. But are they dangerous? Probably not, a new study suggests.

Dermatologists often perform minor skin procedures meant to improve patients' appearance. These include laser treatments and injections such as Botox and collagen fillers.

In a new, large study of these noninvasive procedures, only a small fraction resulted in complications. None of the complications were major.

“In the hands of well-trained dermatologists, these procedures are safe, with ... adverse event rates of well under 1 percent," wrote the authors of the recent study. "Moreover, most adverse events are minor and rapidly remitting, and serious adverse events were not seen. Patients seeking such procedures can be reassured that, at least in the hands of trained board-certified dermatologists, they pose minimal risk.”

Murad Alam, MD, of the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago, and colleagues studied data from 23 dermatologists in various US locations.

The study authors looked at data from March to December 2011. In addition to asking for information from doctors, Dr. Alam and team asked patients to report any problems.

The authors studied data on 20,399 procedures. Among those, they found 48 complications in total.

The researchers studied only common minor procedures. Minor procedures included laser and energy treatments, Botox and collagen injections. In laser treatments, doctors use lasers to remove wrinkles or blemishes from the skin. Botox injections also remove wrinkles, but they do so by temporarily paralyzing facial muscles. Collagen injections are used to make parts of the body, such as the lips, larger.

Complications, which Dr. Alam and colleagues referred to as adverse events, occurred in 36 of these procedures. Some procedures had more than one complication.

Procedures on the cheeks, smile lines and eyelids resulted in complications most often. These events included lumps and persistent redness on the skin. Others included bruising, skin darkening, skin erosion or sores. None of the complications were serious, the authors noted. The total complication rate for more than 20,000 procedures was 0.24 percent.

The study was published online Nov. 5 in JAMA Dermatology.

The Feinberg School of Medicine funded the study. Dr. Alam served as a consultant for medical companies unrelated to the current research.

Review Date: 
November 6, 2014
Last Updated:
November 7, 2014