Keeping up with the Kardashians is more than a reality show for Albanians as demand for the ‘Kim look’ creates big business in the Balkan state. But without the right laws to monitor the industry, patients risk paralysis and other complications.

In Albania, the demand for cosmetic treatment and plastic surgery has been rising even though the unregulated industry threatens to paralyse patients or leave them in chronic pain.

The pressure, reinforced by social media, to look good and conform to contemporary beauty ideals is leading people in the Balkan state to make a beeline for cheap beauty fixes.

For many women, it’s the Kim Kardashian look that they are after. Medical professionals say this look might come cheap in Albania but at the high cost of serious medical complications.

“The model of Kim Kardashian, hips, buttocks, lips, breast implants, has unfortunately become a reference to which young Albanian women succumb,” said dermatologist Eriona Shehu.

Elira Kajtazi was dissatisfied with her pictures on social media and decided to get injection treatment for $65, which nearly paralysed her face. She now lives in almost constant pain and there is no legal recourse.

Albania needs new laws to fill a legal vacuum which allows hair and beauty salons to use unskilled workers and unregulated materials, such as potentially harmful synthetic materials, to offer cheap cosmetic enhancements.

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