FRAXEL DESPAIR (Fraxel Re:pair Profractional Ablative Laser Resurfacing) - Bristol, UK
Initially, I only wanted resurfacing on the sides...
- 3 Dec 2012
Initially, I only wanted resurfacing on the sides of my face, but Simon Lee convinced me to have my whole face resurfaced on the grounds that it would blend better, so I agreed, despite the cost being more than double.
I was given nerve blocks (approximately twenty injections in the face), a topical anaesthetic, and Diazepam orally. Even after all this, the pain of the procedure was indescribable. I don't know how I managed to stay in the chair for the duration. It literally took my breath away.
Shortly afterwards, I started getting ill. I felt very sick, dizzy, shaky and disorientated. When I got home, I kept falling asleep. I also suffered memory loss for around five days afterwards, which I was later told is a symptom of physical shock. The itching was so bad that even twelve "one-a-day" antihistamine tablets was not sufficient to control it; and the burning sensation was so intense that I could not stand in the kitchen or anywhere warm as it would aggravate it. I also became very sensitive to light and had to keep all the curtains closed.
Before the procedure, I was asked to complete some medical forms, which I did. Apparently it is standard practice to be given antiobiotics with this procedure to prevent infection. I clearly stated on the forms that I am allergic to Penicillin and Cefaclor. However, Mr. Lee had obviously not checked this as when it came to the day of the treatment, those were the only drugs available. Simon Lee was not even in the building that day and had instructed a nurse to carry out the procedure, and thus, could not write me a prescription for a different antibiotic, so I was not given anything.
Simon Lee said later that as well as going into shock, I must have suffered some kind of infection because it should have healed within a week or so, but after four months, the redness and demarcation lines from the laser were still visible. Even a year after treatment, things were not completely back to normal. I have since read that the correct post-operative care after laser resurfacing is extremely important in terms of the overall success of the procedure.
During all of this, I tried numerous times to contact Simon Lee and/or his nurse, Jayne Molyneux, but very often I could not get hold of anyone. I left messages and no one called me back. I was in agony and hardly slept for the first eleven days; despite being constantly drowsy, I would fall asleep briefly, only to be awoken by the pain again. I was too ill to eat for much of this time. My family called the doctor a couple of times, but they had no idea what they were dealing with and told us to contact the person who had carried out the procedure as they would know what to do. No such luck. In fact, despite being told I was suffering from shock, I was not given any advice on how to deal with this.
When I finally had the chance at a follow-up appointment to confront Simon Lee about the lack of aftercare, he suggested that I had "played down" the severity of the symptoms, telling me I may not have been sufficiently "pro-active" in trying to get help. This is completely untrue. He also began backtracking on things he had said previously. For instance, he had given me two prescriptions for hydrocortisone-based products, but told me to use just one, and to only use the second product if I could not obtain the first one. I had a family member with me, who was also witness to this conversation. However, Mr. Lee later claimed that he had told me to use both products concurrently, as if to imply that this would have made a difference to the outcome, although I don't believe this to be the case.
Whilst I fully accept that there are risks involved with any surgical procedure, and that the outcome may not always be favourable, I feel that there should, under all circumstances, be adequate provision for complications and adverse reactions. In this instance, it seems that the medical professionals involved were only geared up for a positive result, and had nothing in place for when things go wrong. In the end, this means the patient suffers. In fact, at my initial consultation, Simon Lee told me he had only treated around forty patients using this procedure, so many of the risks may not even have been known at that time.
In summary, not only was there no improvement in skin tone or texture from this procedure, the laser actually caused permanent damage and scarring, and the psychological trauma was severe. An extremely distressing experience I would not wish on anyone.
Note: This procedure was carried out at Lifestyle Surgery in Bristol, but I believe that Mr. Simon Lee is now based at Spire Hospital, also in Bristol.
(Please note that the cost of the procedure was £3200 GBP. At the time of writing, this is approximately $5145.)
I did some research online, and this surgeon's background seemed to suggest that he would be professional and competent. Mr. Simon Lee appeared, at first, very professional, although he did seem to be in a rush during my consultation, and I did not get answers to all my questions. Nonetheless, from his credentials, I felt that he would be a good choice of surgeon for Fraxel laser resurfacing.