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My Story - New York, NY

Ten years ago I had a consultation with plastic...

Ten years ago I had a consultation with plastic surgeon for a procedure. While determining if the procedure was a good choice the doctor suggested that I get a filler called Restylane for under my eyes. He said it would help my tired look and fill in the hollow circles under my eyes. While I didn’t go to him for this issue I did agree that it may be a good idea. He said it was safe and would benefit me. I had just turned 40 and thought this would hold back the hands of time.

That is when I started with these injections. I did go to a few different dermatologists and plastic surgeons throughout the years and never had an issue. I tried Juvederm, but I didn’t like the effects, it caused a blue hue under my eyes.

Two years ago a friend of mine recommended a dermatologist that she was going to who is board certified and had performed 1,000’s of injections. He dissolved the Juvederm immediately and said it wasn’t injected properly which is why I had this blue hue and a bag was forming under my eye.

He waited two months before he injected me with Restylane. Before I had gone to him I had extensive dental work which also caused me some sinus issues.

A few months after the injection I noticed some red swelling under one eye. I called my dermatologist and informed him of this issue. He said that I probably was allergic to some topical eye cream I was using. He said if it was the Restylane, I would have had the reaction immediately. He told me he needed to see the swelling to determine what it was. The swelling only lasted for a day or two and happened so infrequently that by the time I made the appointment the swelling was gone. So I started taking pictures. I showed the picture to my dermatologist and again he said it was from topical creams, so I threw out all of my expensive anti-aging eye creams, face creams, etc. I started using cetaphil cream.

July of 2013 I had my yearly injection of Restylane. At the end of August I noticed some swelling for a day or two. Then over the course of the next few weeks the swelling started every week and would last for three days. By October the swelling became severe. I went to see my primary care doctor finally a doctor witness the actually swelling. She gave me antibiotics and said I had a skin infection and it should be cleared up in a week. Two weeks after the first antibiotics the swelling came back under both eyes and cheeks. I immediately went back to my primary care physician. At this appointment she didn’t think it was a skin infection, but either an allergy or a sinus related issue. I made an appointment with an allergist who took a series of blood tests and a sinus scope. He said I had a low grade sinus infection, but thought this issue was from my immune system. All of my tests came back negative. I informed both doctors that I was injected with Restylane and they both said that it definitely wasn’t caused by Restylane, that I would have gotten this reaction immediately.

I started researching this on the internet and found other people with the same exact issue as me. I also work for a medical education company who teaches physician’s how to inject these products. After speaking with my boss she told me this reaction could be caused by a biofilm infection and could have spread from the dental work I had done. There was a faculty meeting just a month prior discussing this topic.

I truly believe that it’s not the fault of the injector or the product, but the fact that I may have already had some sort of infection. Once I was injected it may have disturbed the infection which attached to the Restylane.

I went back to my dermatologist with this information. He had never seen a case like this before and was shocked when he saw the pictures and then saw my swelling first hand. He dissolved the Restylane and immediately put me on 500 milligrams of Biaxan twice a day for 5 weeks. For three weeks I didn’t get any flare ups, but became very sick from the antibiotic. I was just approaching my last week of the antibiotics when the swelling returned and it was severe. I got violently ill from the antibiotics and couldn’t hold down any food. I went back to the doctor this past Tuesday and he reinjected me with the solution to dissolve any remaining Restylane. He put me on a new antibiotic for 30 – 60 days depending on how I can handle it.

It’s been two weeks since the Restylane was dissolved for the second time and I have been fine until today, January 22. I missed one antibiotic and already see swelling under my eye. I have another two weeks of antibiotic so hopefully this will help. I will keep you updated.

Still Swelling Up

So I have been on four antibiotics and nothing is working. I have had the restylane dissolved twice. I saw my doctor January 28 and he suggested that I go back on the original antibiotic which made me sick, but I really don't have a choice. I have been swelling up everyday now. I have an appointment next week to try and dissolve any remaining product next week if I am not swollen. I have been on antibiotics for three months now, which I am very concerned about since this will cause stomach issues. I am posting a pictures of the swelling when this started. I have some new pic from this week that I will upload later this week.

Getting Better

Well it's been some time since my last update. I have had the product dissolved three times now and went back on the Biaxin antibiotic. It's now been over four months on antibiotics. So far I'm good. I haven't swelled up since February 2nd. I have five more days on the antibiotics, once I'm done, hopefully I won't swell up again.

Finally Better

Well there is light at the end of this tunnel. Since my last post I finished the antibiotics. It is now going on three weeks and haven't had any swelling at all. I am back to normal and working out again. My eyes look just fine and I would never get fillers again. Yes, it was great for a few years, but when the troubles begin I thought I would never get better or look normal again. I had a wonderful doctor who gave me full attention and didn't give up on me. He told me he would continue to use the solution to dissolve the product until it was gone, and it took three times. My advice, be aware of your health conditions, do research and ask a lot of questions. You may have a great doctor, but they don't know everything. You may think, this is just a filler, but a filler can cause serious issues and it's no longer worth it for me. I will just age gracefully and take care of myself. I am happy and healthy once again. I will post pictures of myself soon.

Spoke TOO Soon

I am sorry to report that I am back where I started. It was just three weeks that I finished my antibiotics and the swelling returned with a vengeance this past Friday. I was doing great and then I got fitted for glasses. They were a bit tight on the bridge of my nose and four days later I noticed a bump on the side of my nose and my face. A few hours later the swelling returned. I think the pressure from the glasses may have started the infection backup. I'm sure it would have come back but not this severe. I just went to the doctor this morning and I am back on antibiotics for another 3 months or longer. Once the swelling goes down he will inject the dissolving solution again. My doctor has a conference call with a few doctors this week to see what else needs to be done and how long I should really stay on the antibiotics. He is reaching out to a bunch of experts to see what their experience has been and how to get me well. I was in such bad shape yesterday that I couldn't go to work. This is very depressing, but I am going to keep positive and I know eventually I will get rid of this infection. My doctor also prescribed steroids because the swelling is severe and I can't stay like this. I will keep you posted.
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Comments (17)

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Who is the doctor you went to? Please message me so I don't go to that doctor. Thank you.
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As a member of the health care field i would recommend you consult an infection disease doctor. I would. Hope you can get this resolved sooner than later. Chronic health issues are exhausting but don't give up!
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Maybe you should consult with an infection disease doc. We call on them frequently when all other doctors are running into brick walls.
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I am very afraid that I have a biofilm infection as well. I had restylane injections almost two years ago. At the time my skin broke down at the injection sites. After it cleared up things were fine until just two weeks ago. At that time my lower left eye swelled. I did not take a pic but I would say my face looked just like yours. I started wearing my glasses to hide. It cleared up in about a week then came back last weekend. I went to my primary care Dr. last Monday and have now been referred to an allergist. She thought it was a hive. I mentioned the restylane at the time but it was blown off. For some reason I kept thinking that it might be related. Tonight I was reading about restylane on real self and found your post. Is it possible that I could have an infection almost two years later? Also, did your skin itch?
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very helpful in that it reminds me that our bodies are very complex and that we know very little about how we will react to an injection. I think I will be happy with the way I look, continue using the best creams I can find and be glad that I can exercise and be fit.
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Congratulations! I hope that the biofilm infection is eradicated and that you never have problems with the swelling and inflammation again. You got the proper treatment: a long course of powerful antibiotics and dissolving the filler. There are still so many doctors injecting these fillers with no knowledge at all of the risk of biofilm infection or how to treat it. It's important that you shared your story here to enlighten those doctors and to help people who are having the same symptoms to get the proper treatment. I'll bet you've never been happier to get your old face back again!
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Hi, I am so very sorry to hear about your experience!! Thank you for publishing and getting more info out to all of us. You are a very beautiful lady. Hopefully this last round of antibiotics will do the trick for you. (Hope you are taking VERY HIGH doses of Probiotics!) I want to throw something out to you that may or may not have any affect on your swelling. I have had health issues in the past, and I now deal with swelling under my eyes into my cheek area. It is a mystery to my primary care physician as well as my dermatologist. I had Restylane injections to try to help my under eye circus. The injections did help me for my good days, but I still continue to have bad days. I have since learned (through trial/error) that eating sugar will absolutely guarantee a blow up under my eyes. I cannot eat any desserts or God-forbid, chocolate. I can tolerate a small piece of cake/muffin/cookie from time to time, but anything that is high is sugar, Forget It! Keep me posted on your progress. Positive thoughts coming your way!!
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New York, has your doctor told you that you have a biofilm infection? I had one caused by Restylane to the tear trough area. You can read my story here: http://www.realself.com/review/new-york-ny-disastrous-result-injecting-restylane-tear-troughs . I finally had eyelid surgery yesterday, and the surgeon, who is an expert in biofilm infections, told me there was still some remaining encapsulated Restylane, present after 15 months and after dissolving with hyaluronidase. Be sure to be persistent and get the proper treatment until your infection is cleared! Sadly the whole ordeal left my undereyes a mess, which is why I finally elected to have the surgery.
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Hi Sallify, Yes, I definitely have a biofilm infection. My doctor is trying so hard to help me, but I am still in bad shape. I have to go back on the original antibiotic once I'm finished with the current one. My eye and cheek swelled up so bad again last night, I don't know what else to do. He is going to dissolve it for a third time next week once the swelling goes down. Who is the doctor that is an expert in biofilm? I can't seem to find anyone who really understands this. Thank you Rose
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I am so sorry to hear what you're going through, Rose. I went through a similar hell for about six months, then was left with saggy, baggy uneven eyes. Rhoda Narins in New York is an expert in biofilm infections and their treatment. And the plastic surgeon who just removed the last of the encapsulated Restylane for me last week in L.A. is Dr. Kami Parsa. Here is a link to an article that Dr. Narins wrote on treating biofilms from fillers: http://dermatologytimes.modernmedicine.com/dermatology-times/news/modernmedicine/modern-medicine-feature-articles/biofilms-dermal-fillers-manag I haven't yet reported my infection to Medicis, the manufacturer of Restylane, but reading more and more stories here of women here who are having biofilm infections--diagnosed and undiagnosed--makes me think that all patients suffering these symptoms should report these symptoms/infections to the maker.
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So....from the research you've both done Sallify and NY is this infection something that you already HAD somewhere in the body that attaches to the artificial filler (could be Resty, Sculptra etc) and because of the properties of the filler becomes hard for the antibiotic to attack....OR is it that there has been bacteria introduced through a less-than-clean injection needle or injection site? Or do they think that the source of the infection is of less importance than the fact that the filler provides a host environment that makes it amost antibiotic immune.... btw...you too are providing a real resource to the RS site. thanks, grace60
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From my understanding, the bacteria can be introduced either way, internally or externally. I've learned through this that prepping the skin before injecting filler needs to be as precautious as before surgery, swapping the skin with Betadine. One's skin should be clean and make up free before injecting, not just quickly swiped out with an alcohol wipe. Otherwise bacteria can be introduced when injecting the filler. The way biofilms operate is the bacteria "encapsulate" the filler, creating a protective shell around the filler in which the bacteria can multiply and hang out. This shell that they form then protects the body's immune defenses or antibiotics from getting to the bacteria and killing it, which is why it is such a very difficult infection to get rid of. The plastic surgeon who just removed the last of my filler said that it's almost impossible to pinpoint and target all of the filler and get rid of it all just through hyaluronidase injections alone. The sad news is that in some (most?) cases it may be necessary to remove any remaining filler surgically. My PS said that this information is new, new, new. Most doctors are still unfamiliar with the risk of biofilm infection from fillers and don't have the first idea how to treat it. I am making it my mission to get the word out. I think there's an newspaper or magazine article here that needs to happen.
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Too bad Oprah isn't still on but how bout Dr Oz. I think this is really a great thing you are doing. Fillers are a big business and it will be a while before this message gets out if it is the plastic surgery, medispa or dermatological community who must sound the alarm. They are making a lot of money from this maintenance product. And the scary thing is that hyper-clean skin surface is not enough. Apparently any minor infection from dental work or sinus infections can easily migrate to anywhere the filler has been placed in the mid face. I hope you can get this information out and widely circulated. If the filler manufacturers and the practitioners who use it know biofilm to be a problem they really have a duty here. Up to this point when a woman presented with rashes they were told it was an immune reaction and made to feel like their bodies were attacking some harmless injectable. Usually they were prescribed a steroid to tamp down the reaction or an antibiotic which, as you pointed out, is unable to penetrate the encapsulation. Thanks for what you have done so far. You identified something that was certainly wrong with your outcome and you persisited to find out your truth even when the PS was offering you no solution. What a refreshing thing....to see clearly when something has gone wrong and let others know there's a problem In this case...a big one. grace60
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SO SORRY. Hope you feel better soon. I am glad we have RealSelf to come to to give our experiences. We never hear of all these problems we experience with cosmetic procedures. Thanks for sharing your experience.
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I agree. I hope all these cases are being reported. I have had my problems with fillers and people need to know of adverse problems prior to having the fillers. Thanks
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what is biofilm?
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I agree Grace n and thank you for posing those questions so well. thta was exactly what I wanted to now.
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