Bad Plastic Surgery: Finding a Good Reconstructive Surgeon?

I had cheek implants placed over a year ago and had major complications. I went to many, many of the so called best doctors in northern California and found them completely unwilling to get involved or to help. I had a diagnosis of nerve injury that I think scared them off but I have since found out that the surgeon sliced through the muscles of my face to place the implant above my facial muscles and above the left orbital rim of my eye. He also unknowingly sliced through the obicularis muscle causing spasm and pain in the left side of my face when I moved. I had the implants removed a month after placement but I have serious nerve (both VII and V) and muscle damage and excruciating pain. This has been an absolute nightmare and I have lost all trust in doctors in general. Thankfully, there have been a few amazing, compassionate, Miracle worker doctors out there to make up for all the bad apples but the damage that this monster facial plastic surgeon did to me is so severe that I do not know where to turn to next. Are there doctors that specialize in fixing the messes that other doctors make? Not little messes but severe errors? I am in constant horrific pain. At this point it is not a cosmetic issue. My mouth and cheek muscles are no longer attached to the bone. I just want my face to work again. My mouth is a twisted painful mess. I need help. Any info you could provide would be most appreciated. Thanks so very much.

Doctor Answers (6)

So sorry to hear about your nightmare. With the degree...

+4

Hi Michelle,

So sorry to hear about your nightmare. With the degree of damage and the severity of symptoms that you are suffering from I would recommend that you schedule a consultation at a major university center. In Northern California that would be Stanford, UCSF, or UC Davis. I would start in the Dept. of Facial Plastic Surgery or the Dept. of Plastic Surgery.

I wish you success in your rehabilitation. Be well.

Dr. P


Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 23 reviews

Help with Bad Surgery

+2

I am so sorry to hear what happened. First off, I will say that it is most likely that the doctor that caused this problem is probably ashamed of what happened and feel terrible. There are many surgeons that do "fix up" work of other surgeons. I myself specialize in revision of eyelid and eyebrow surgery that is originally performed by other doctors. During my training I was given a warning about operating on reoperation patients which is was "If you try to fix a complication by another surgeon and it doesn't work out or help, remember as far as the patient is concerned afterwards they are going to think that you did this to them. The original surgeon is forgotten.".  Just remember that it is unlikely that any surgeon will fix this problem completely or make you "back to normal" however take it as they may be able to make some improvements. Expect a very small improvement as the secondary surgery is more difficult as there is more scarring, the tissue is harder to identify and healing will be slower. Good luck. Let me know if there is anything you need. 

Chris Thiagarajah, MD
Washington DC Oculoplastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Unfortunately, your situation sounds like one that often...

+2

Unfortunately, your situation sounds like one that often winds up in a lawsuit and so many other doctors will be scared away and won't want to get involved in the process. It also sounds like there may be very limited solutions to your problem especially when nerve injuries have occurred.

Generally, the Craniofacial Surgery experts at the major university teaching hospitals are the most likely doctors you could go to for help.

Your unfortunate problem emphasizes the need to find the right doctor for your first surgery and for the government to regulate what kind of training is required for a doctor to perform surgery.

Richard P. Rand, MD, FACS
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 51 reviews

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If, for example, a bad face-lift has been performed,...

+2

If, for example, a bad face-lift has been performed, finding a surgeon who specializes in facial plastic surgery, with extensive experiences performing revision face-lifts, is ideal.

It is very important to research your surgeon thoroughly prior to embarking on a face-lift. Complications can and will occur, but an experienced surgeon will be able to keep these to minimum.

William Portuese, MD
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 60 reviews

Fixing plastic surgery

+2

I empathise with your problem and your experience.

There is sometimes no way that one can "fix" the problems associated with the scar and surgery done before we get involved. We all wish that we could turn the clock back, but sometimes we just can't. If one is willing to accept the problems that we are dealt with, and move on, then sometimes we can make things better. When we are in that place, then we can turn the page and try to make things better than what they are now.

I feel that this is why other plastic surgeons declined, as they feel that you are not ready to turn that page and start again with where you are now. When you are in that place, try and see someone again. That will be a difference.

Dan Mills, MD
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Serious problems with cheek implants

+1

I am very sorry to hear your story. It sounds like you have been through a terrible ordeal. It is critical, as the other surgeons mentioned, to find the right surgeon for you and someone that you're comfortable with. It's just as important to pursue surgery or revision surgery at a time that is right for you. Despite finding a qualified surgeon and having a healthy, engaged patient, complications do unfortunately occur. Ideally when these problems occur, which is rare, your surgeon will do their best to work with you and try to remedy any issues that can be addressed. It is difficult to assess exactly what would help address these problems without seeing photos or evaluating you in person. I do hope that you find a qualified surgeon to evaluate you and potentially perform revision surgery when you're ready.

Stephen Weber MD, FACS

Stephen Weber, MD, FACS
Denver Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 44 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.