'Scarred for life' - Cosmetic procedure left mum-of-three with infected wounds that 'horrified' GP
PUBLISHED: 06:30 27 September 2019 | UPDATED: 10:40 28 September 2019
Beauty salon customers left scarred by cosmetic skin-tightening procedures have told of their painful experiences as a warning to others.
Mother-of-three Amiee Ward has called for greater regulation of 'fibroblast' procedures after she was left with infected wounds following a £400 session to remove stretch marks at Tinks Top to Toe Beauty parlour in Felixstowe.
"There needs to be better warnings," she said. "People are being scarred for life."
Salon owner, Gemma Richardson, said the procedure was done correctly and Mrs Ward had been given detailed aftercare advice on avoiding adverse reactions.
She highlighted customer's testimonials praising her "professional service" and a statement from another independent beautician, Ruth Munroe, who had watched a recording of the procedure and confirmed it was done correctly.
Ms Munroe said she had "no doubt" the client was responsible for the infection, but Mrs Ward, from Felixstowe, said she followed all the aftercare guidance given.
The treatment involves a handheld device, which administers a "plasma flash" onto skin to produce a tightening effect, reducing wrinkles, stretch marks or hooded eyelids. It is advertised by other beauticians as a "non-invasive, non-surgical" procedure, with low risk of side-effects.
But as soon as Mrs Ward, 30, had the treatment last November, she said she realised something was wrong.
"The evening of my treatment, I was in a lot of unexpected pain which was alarming," she said. "Very quickly my wounds started to get infected."
Mrs Ward, who had agreed to have her treatment filmed for the salon's Facebook page, contacted its owner, Ms Richardson, for advice.
She claims to have received no reply - although Ms Richardson said she communicated with Mrs Ward throughout.
After growing increasingly concerned, Mrs Ward approached another beautician who told her to seek medical help.
"My GP was horrified by the state of my stomach," she said. "They started talking about skin grafts - that's when I realised how bad it was."
She said she regretted having the procedure which she hoped would boost her confidence by removing stretch marks from pregnancy.
"I should just have been happy with my body as it was," she said.
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Mrs Ward, who works as a funeral co-ordinator, decided to seek compensation. But she said her no-win-no-fee solicitor would not proceed because the salon was not insured for the procedure, making a pay-out unlikely.
Ms Richardson confirmed she is now fully insured and licensed with the council - but acknowledged Mrs Ward's procedure had not been covered due to a misunderstanding over whether it was included in her training provider's insurance.
Mrs Ward said she did not believe the salon set out to harm her - but felt it could have handled her complaint better.
"My stomach is now scarred for life from hip to hip," she said. "I feel there need to be warnings about people doing these procedures."
Mrs Ward's husband, Rick Ward, said it was "horrible seeing her in so much pain".
"I genuinely didn't realise the consequences of this treatment," he said.
Ms Richardson, who has 16 years' experience in the beauty industry, said she had only received one complaint about fibroblast.
"We have taken this complaint very seriously," she said "We have at every stage communicated with Aimee."
She said Mrs Ward's complaints had been referred to police as harassment and had a "massive effect on my health and my family".
Mrs Ward said she only made comments on Facebook to warn others and never approached Ms Nicholson in person. Police said "words of advice had been given".
Another woman, who also claims to have been scarred from the same procedure, has backed Mrs Ward's calls for better warnings.
The woman, who asked to remain anonymous, said she booked three treatments to remove stretch marks earlier this year.
After the first course, however she said it felt "very painful" and turned her skin green. "My stomach is now bright red and scarred for life because of this treatment," she said.
There are currently no warnings about the use of fibroblast procedures in the UK, where it is relatively new on the market.
In Canada, however, health leaders have advised people to stop using the fibroblast devices, which they said could post health risks, even if used properly.