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.

Appointment with an Infectious Disease Specialist

My situation hasn't gotten any better and I must stay on the antibiotics. If I miss one day, the swelling starts. My appointment is May 13, and I am very anxious to find a solution to this problem. It's now been 7 months on antibiotics and very high doses of probiotics, lots of water and limited sugar. I'm not sure what else to do, but I am hopefully. Will update pics and status.

My update since May 13

I have been seeing a new physician and things have improved considerably. Since May 13 I had only one minor episode which didn't last long and didn't react as the past episodes of swelling, soreness, red bumps, etc. This lasted one day and the culture came back as a low grade bacterial infection, so it seems the infection isn't as strong. That episode was at end of June. I am no longer on antibiotics, and have been treated with 5FU. Three injections within three months. It seems to be kind of a protocol for quite a few physicians in the field of dermatology.

What I did: I contacted all the physicians that have injected me and requested my medial records as well as my dental records when this problem started, and put together a timeline from the last 7 years to figure out how I got this bacteria. This was a project but it's worth it, especially if helps the physicians understand and figure out what may have cause this.

You need to educate yourself, get the right physician who has treated this. Physicians are now seeing more of these cases so they are talking to each other to fix the problem and avoid the problem. Hopefully they ask their patients the right questions before they're injected.

The problem is the bacteria attaches itself to the product and makes a home there. It's difficult to get rid of the bacteria, so the product must be removed in order to not have a place for the bacteria to live on.

It's important that you educate yourself and read these physicians articles/abstracts. It will help you to find physicians who have had these cases and know how to treat them. Pubmed is a website that you can search for articles referencing "Facial Filler Complications". There is an article written by Daniel Cassuto, MD reviewing the filler protocols and treating complications. Its very informative and interesting. You need to know the physician who is treating knows what they're doing. You will get rid of this bacteria with the right treatment for you, but some times it takes many months to over a year to resolve. It really depends how you went untreated and the reason that you got the bacteria.

There have been cases reported with the following ways that the bacteria may have been contracted. One is dental working including cleanings right before or after being injected, any type of minor surgery done on the face near the time of injection, contaminated products, the physician not injecting properly and non-sterile prep prior to injection. There is a protocol on how the physician should prep you before the injection. There is also a protocol on the direction of the injection as well as amount that should be used. There are many factors, but you must be diligent in order to get better. Too many physicians are not educated about this problem, and they are dismissing that this problem is related to fillers.

I really feel hopeful this time that I'm going to get better. I hope this information helps somebody.

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Hi, First i want to say that im sorry to hear about your event on biofilm infection, and hope the best for u. I want to tell you all, that i was just thinking about using restylane, which someone told me i could use. I got some problems with my look, i look much tired, and need some volume in my face, and by restylane i could get the solution ive been told. But after reading this topic, im very confused about this. What would you recommend me? Regards
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Thank you for sharing your journey. I'm very glad that you are healed.
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Ty for posting this. Had Dysport injected last Aug in forehead for very light wrinkles and 11's it made my face fall and tons more wrinkles. Went to see another Dr other day he tried to get me to inject fillers in my face to bring volume back. Of course sounded good and models looked great on brochures but scared bc I already ruined my face big time. After reading your bad experience I will refrain. Ty for posting and I'm sure it's been heck for you. As I'm going thru heck with losing my face.
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I looked up Dr Cassuto and facial filler complications and came across this video. Hopefully it will make people think 10 times before putting filler anywhere near their eyes.
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Oh, no, this is terrible! My symptoms (mostly) cleared up after six weeks of antibiotics. Is your doctor sure that your symptoms are caused by a bacterial infection? Have you had a culture? I am so sorry that you've endured this for so long.
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NewYork 5025, do you have any current pictures?
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Will update pics this week
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It's May 7th and I am sure I can say, "We all are hoping that you are looking and feeling better." I used to take a thyroid replacement that contained either porcine or bovine thyroid material; I would break out in hives after consuming it and put two and two together to realize it was the animal hormone. I am almost wondering if you might have a bovine or porcine allergy. I believe the HA is made with one of those two.???? Looking forward to seeing your current pics.
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Could it be something you are eating? When I eat food I am allergic to especially if I touch MSG (found everywhere these days, even Johnsonville sausages), I get puffy bags under my eyes. Sadly, I discovered I was allergic to petroleum jelly the hard way after I rubbed it under my eyes as one magazine suggested for a sure way to keep the wrinkles at bay. I woke up with my eyes swollen shut. If I touch petroleum jelly and not even place it by my eyes I will still have inflammation around my eyes. At another time, I had new contacts prescribed and all was well until one day I couldn't see. We were at a loss as to what could be causing the problem. After months of doctor appointments a lightbulb finally lit up in my head. Holly molly, I was using this cream around my eyes that had no petroleum jelly but was intended for another location on the body. The manufacturer had the two bottles next to each other and it wasn't obvious that one was for the body one was for under the eyes. I stopped using that cream and all was well. I agree with sonyalouderback, hopefully an infection disease doctor might be able to help. Best of luck to you.
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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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Please note that I don't think this issue is the fault of the physician, I have been going to him other dermatological issues and he's been great. I think it's an unfortunate situation for me as I had extreme dental work when I got the filler, so I really believe the bacteria was caused from the dental issue. I am going to see a new physician who is a specialist with Infectious Disease and will update everyone after my appointment on May 13.
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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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I am sorry it took so long to get back to you. I thought I was better and after 3 weeks of finishing the antibiotics (5 months of medicine) the swelling came back worse then ever. I am back on antibiotics and if I miss one pill the swelling starts immediately. I have an appointment with a specialist who said she needs to see me to determine what treatment I need, but the antibiotics isn't the solution. In the meanwhile I have to take the antibiotics to keep this under control. I have an appointment on May 13, so I am very anxious to see what treatment will help me. It's been 7 months since this nightmare started. I do believe that if the hyaluronidase (dissolving agent) didn't get all of the restylane that the bacteria will just keep coming back. I will update you once I meet with this new physician. Yes, my skin did itch on occasion, but the last round of swelling hurt and my skin became hard, so I was given steroids to help with the swelling.
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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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You are so right on it! Sugar and high starchy carbs are highly inflammatory. The other possibility is that she may have an autoimmune reaction to gluten. According to Dr. Perlmutter, people are allergic to gluten and don't even realize it. If people have any type of autoimmune condition, ADD, ADHD, Schizophrenia, depression, MS...he recommends getting a few tests, one specifically to test gluten sensitivity. He lists the tests in his book Grain Brain. I was diagnosed with Hashimotto Thyroditis as a condition of the body rejecting the thyroid gland. My endocrinologist told me that I would to be on thyroid medications for the rest of my life. Fortunately, I found a blog and people with the very same condition and had it revered once they got off of gluten. I gave it a try, stopped taking my thyroid meds and haven't felt better since. My tests have come back normal but the doctor didn't think it was related to the gluten, she thought that titers could switch on and off. It's been five years and I am doing perfectly as I am gluten and grain free. I hope this post doesn't sound like a ridiculous tangent. It would be worth a try and if it works please do tell us about it.
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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: . 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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