'Liquid nose jobs' outlawed for B.C. naturopaths over concerns about blindness and skin death

·2 min read

Naturopaths in B.C. have been banned from performing liquid rhinoplasty, a procedure marketed as a quick and relatively painless alternative to surgery that nonetheless can cause serious complications.

The College of Naturopathic Physicians of B.C. announced Tuesday that the ban will go into effect on Jan. 1.

"The college has a legal mandate to protect the public," registrar Howard Greenstein said in a notice to all B.C. naturopaths.

"The college made the decision to not permit liquid rhinoplasty to be performed by registrants because of the serious side effects and risks associated with the procedure. These side effects and risks can include vascular necrosis, blindness and stroke."

The notice points out that in case of an emergency during the procedure, naturopaths do not have the ability to refer patients directly to medical specialists.

Physicians and nurses working under a doctor's supervision are still permitted to perform the procedure, also known as a "liquid nose job." It involves injecting dermal fillers — usually hyaluronic acid — into the nose to disguise bumps, change the shape of the nostrils, emphasize the tip or build up the bridge.

The effects aren't permanent, but it can cost as much as $1,500 a session and comes with serious risks.

Because the filler is usually injected at the top of the nose, in between the eyebrows, there's a danger of hitting one of the many blood vessels that connects directly with the brain. Dozens of cases of vision changes connected to the procedure have been documented, including several examples of permanent blindness.

It can also cause tissue necrosis or skin death, as well as the Tyndall effect, in which the skin takes on a bluish tint.

Qiqing Chen, Yu Liu and Dongliang Fan/The American Society of Plastic Surgeons
Qiqing Chen, Yu Liu and Dongliang Fan/The American Society of Plastic Surgeons

The naturopath college's decision to ban liquid rhinoplasty follows a CBC report highlighting an ongoing lawsuit over an allegedly botched procedure.

A notice of civil claim filed by Alyssa Nelson alleges that when Vancouver naturopath Jordan Atkinson injected filler into the base of her nostrils, she "felt a popping sensation and a subsequent shockwave through her entire body. The attempted injection perforated her sinus, leading to filler being injected directly into her sinus cavity."

Nelson claims the 2019 injection fractured her upper jaw bone, caused some of her teeth to die, and led to headaches, blurred vision, post-traumatic stress disorder and insomnia.

None of the allegations have been proven. In his response to Nelson's claim, Atkinson says he gave her adequate information about the risks involved and denies responsibility for any injuries.

Nelson has settled her claim against Atkinson's clinic, The Vanity Lab, out of court, according to a Dec. 17 consent order.