CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Cosmetic procedures like lip injections, microblading and Botox are more popular than ever, but if you try to go cheap, saving a few bucks could cost you a lot more down the road.
NBC Charlotte's Defenders uncovered cases of botched procedures for people who thought they were getting a good deal but walked away scarred forever.
"I noticed they kept swelling and getting progressively bigger, like, really fast," said Alexandra Garaventa, who claims she just wanted fuller lips.
She got lip fillers from a woman offering the service for a fraction of the price out of her home. Instead of fuller lips, she got a nightmare.
"About an hour and a half later, my top lip was touching the tip of my nose," Garavent said.
She's one of seven women who have come forward this month with similar allegations. Police say the woman who reportedly offered these injections out of her back bedroom has fled the country.
"You want to go to someone who is educated on it because you can really cause someone harm," said Eva Unell, a registered nurse who is qualified to inject Botox and lip filler.
She says the first sign is the product packaging. All of the labels and directions should be in English. It should have a lot number and the person administering it should have no problem showing it to you.
"That's a red flag, ultimately, yeah, I would run," Unell said.
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And it's not just lip fillers causing problems. There have been several complains of botched microblading procedures.
"My face was swelling up, my eyes were closing," said one woman.
Sheri McKee offers microblading treatments in Charlotte and says if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.
"If they're charging anything less than $200 or they're Groupon-ing it, run," McKee said.
McKee says customers booking microblading should look for a tattoo permit, which is required under North Carolina law.
"If you don't see a tattoo permit, they're probably doing it under the radar," she said. "They maybe learned online or YouTube."
And whatever you do, doctors say you should never leave the country in search of cheaper plastic surgery. A Charlotte woman went to the Dominican Republic to save some money on a skin tightening procedure but she experienced complications and had to be rushed to Presbyterian Hospital.
Doctors saved her life but the ordeal left her with $120,000 in medical bills.
"It's a very unfortunate scenario, a lot of his patients don't have a lot of money, which is why they travel for cheaper cosmetic surgery," McKee said.
Bottom line, when it comes to your face and body, the best deal is not always the best choice. Saving a few bucks should always take a back seat to saving your skin.