Half of my Face Rotted Off! - Redding, CA~Say NO to Radiesse!

I am a cosmetic laser nurse and injected Radiesse,...

I am a cosmetic laser nurse and injected Radiesse, Restylane and Juvederm for many years. Last February the company sent a new injector trainer to show me and my staff the latest way to augment cheekbones to do the 'liquid lift'. I chose to be injected first before my volunteer patients to see how it felt.

She blocked the blood flow to my left cheek entirely!!! The product is incredibly thick, and this is a risk factor. I looked in the mirror and said, "You've occluded my blood flow." She shook it off and said, "Julie, you just know too much. Now relax and let me do the other side." My husband is the physician in our practice. I wanted to run down the hall and show him but she just downplayed it and kept injecting me. By the time she was through with me and my hubby saw it, it was too late. The tissue was dying.

For 6 months I had pain and disfigurement as my left cheek rotted off and had to regrow. Now, nearly a year later, I am left with pitted skin like severe acne scars. I have lasered it 5 times and only reduced the redness. I have spent thousands of dollars flying around california for medical advice to keep it from scarring, laser treatments, medicines, etc. The company had some Florida doctor call me from his car phone to tell me what to do and what to take. He was a total jerk. I asked the company to please send me to a California doctor so I could see them in person. They wouldn't. I was clearly on my own.

The company couldn't give a crap. They have NEVER called to check on me. The representative sent me one short email that basically said I was in good hands with my husband. That was it. The nurse felt bad, and was super sweet. But even she has not checked up on me since it all went down. I think they advised her not to email me anymore for fear of lawsuit.

I wish there was a class action suit.

They are getting away with horrible business practices.
 

3 1/2 years later... Much Better but still some residual scarring

I apologize for not updating this site. I've learned a lot over the last 3 1/2 years about ischemic events and how to heal them. I have also been blown away about how many people have had similar injuries. I was told this is extremely rare, but judging by the amount of personal messages I've received on this site over the last 3 years, it is NOT that rare. Radiesse cannot be dissolved like a HA. It can be dangerous when in the hands of an injector that does not know how to recognize an occluded or compressed facial artery. This experience has made me a more careful injector, and has inspired me to become an injector trainer. I am very excited about teaching injectors about how to recognize and prevent ischemic events. I hope the posts I've shared on this site help others heal emotionally and physically. I also hope injectors take the time to learn what immediate steps they must take if they happen to block someone's blood flow. I'm posting a photo of today. You can barely see the indentation from the skin I lost. I have had multiple laser procedures as well as injections of HA and Sculptra. I am very thrilled with the results, and grateful for the support I've received. I would like to personally thank my husband, Dr. Jory Kaplan for helping me heal so beautifully inside and out. I would also like to thank Dr. Randy Tate for his wonderful care during the toughest times. Dr. Victor Lacombe was also a huge help, and was brave enough to give me my first laser treatment. Finally, the support from my patients and family was absolutely beautiful. My patients have been so kind and understanding throughout the process. They let me inject them while my face was raw and disgusting from my injury. Their trust in me meant so much. This experience was bitter-sweet. Looking back, I can see all of the blessings that have come from this difficult journey. I find myself very grateful and in awe of how wonderful people can be. Blessings to all, and please feel free to contact me if this happens to you. I don't want anyone to feel as alone as I felt. Help is out there... and remember that you are beautiful no matter what is going on with your skin. :-)

How I Resolved My Scarring from Radiesse:

I am often asked on here how I resolved the extensive scarring from the ischemic event caused by Radiesse after their injector trainer blocked my blood flow to my cheek. The first 3 months required many wet-to-dry dressings, antibiotics, nitro paste (extremely painful), anti viral medications, aquaphore, xeroform dressings, and anti anxiety medicine. It is tough to relax when you don't know if you'll always look like a monster. I also would recommend hyperbaric oxygen treatments early on, but I didn't have this done due to time restraints.

After the first 3 months, I tried several things to address several problems over the last 3 years. My injury left me with hyper pigmentation, permanent hypo pigmentation, redness, and permanent pitting. Ironically, I used filler products for pitting, such as Juvederm and Sculptra. For the redness, I used a vascular laser (VP532 from a VersaPulse C). It's a dinosaur laser, but it works so well. For hyper pigmentation and pitting I also used both Fraxel Re:Store and Syneron's Sublative lasers. I also tried to break up the scar tissue with needles and microcannulas under my dermis. Finally, I used Obagi's hydroquinone cream to even out the color. It has cost thousands of dollars, even at cost, but I'm very happy with the results. The pitting and hypo pigmentation will be permanent, but I have managed to reduce it quite a bit with the above treatments. I hope this blog can help others move on after a similar injury.

Finally, I recommend healing your mind as well as your skin. This injury is both physical and psychological. It truly runs deep. It helped me to go to work and "face" my injury. I work as a cosmetic injector, so this gave me an opportunity to talk about the reasons it is important to have a knowledgeable injector who cares about what happens. It was extremely hard to do this, but it truly made me stronger and my patients appreciated the honesty and education. If this has happened to you, you may need to get professional help so the depression doesn't take you down. I went about life as usual, and even went forward with our planned mother/daughter Bat (B'not) Mitzvah 3 months after the injury with my bright red scar. Just know that there will be beautiful healing, but it will take a while. You are beautiful because your soul is beautiful, and your skin will eventually catch up. Take care, J.

Forgiveness...

Today marks the 4th anniversary of my injury.

I realized this morning that I am not angry at the injector who treated me that day. She didn't do this on purpose, and she probably learned as much as I learned that day. She probably suffered too. I feel badly for not doing the personal work to forgive her and reach out to her until today. I did reach out to her today, and hope she understands why I have not reached out until now. Forgiveness doesn't always go two ways, but hopefully it will in this case.

I have not yet forgiven Merz for dropping me like trash when I got injured. I chose not to pursue legal action, but I have not forgotten how rude and heartless the company was 4 years ago today. Perhaps if they followed up with me just once, I would be able to let it go. So far, nothing. I will not use any of their products on my patients going forward.

When I look in the mirror I still see physical scars from that fateful day 4 years ago. The funny thing is, no one else seems to see them. I consider them a badge of courage. This incident truly made me stronger, and I am proud of those pits and scars.

This week was interesting, as I found my poor, injured face plastered to some physician's website in Florida. He must have copied my photo from this site. He used my sad, pathetic face as an example, and didn't bother to block my eyes. I have mixed feelings about this. I posted here to spread awareness of what can happen, and what signs for injectors to look for, but I didn't ever dream I'd be copied and pasted without permission. Without permission, I cannot be sure the content out there is accurate or being used for prevention. I respectfully ask any and all people who want to use my photos to please contact me first on this site and let me know how the photo will be used, and tell me the context. I am all for spreading awareness, but don't want to be the poster lady for someone's personal gain.

Thank you for reading. For all of those who have been injured due to a vascular injury post injection, my advise to you is to be patient... sometimes it takes as long as 4 years (or more) to fully heal and reflect. Someday you may find that your soul grew throughout the experience, and it was actually a blessing. I have definitely become a better cosmetic injector, and a more compassionate nurse. Sometimes G-d gives us wonderful gifts, but not necessarily wrapped in pretty packaging.

Warmly,
J

4 years later

Just a tiny bit of pitting left after 4 years. I wear it like a badge of courage. This experience has been a blessing in countless ways. If this happens to you, DO NOT give up! Trust me, this is an opportunity to grow from within, and there is technology today can really help. Be patient...
Raidesse Training Nurse, Paula

I was injected by a very experienced Radiesse nurse trainer from the San Francisco Bay Area. She did not recognize my ischemic event (thought the blanching was from the lidocaine with epi) and did not follow the protocol for this injury to save my skin. I saw the large white area in the mirror after an injection and was frightened my blood flow was blocked, but I just trusted that she was right and I was wrong. I learned a big lesson that day, to always trust my gut and take immediate action if a blockage is suspected. HAs can be dissolved when this happens, but Radiesse cannot be dissolved. Please choose HA instead of Radiesse, and a qualified, experienced injector who really cares about you. The company that manufactures Radiesse (Merz), did not follow up or help me in any way. I felt so alone and afraid. They said, "Your husband is a physician. You are in good hands." I never heard another word from them, or from the Radiesse representative, Heidi MacKaben. I would never treat my patients the way BioForm Medical (now Merz Aesthetics) treated me. I sent all of my Radiesse syringes back to the company for a refund and they didn't even give me a full refund. They just don't care. I feel badly for the nurse injector because I can't imagine how that must have felt to cause such an injury. She was very kind. I hope that all injectors, regardless of their experience, degrees, or expertise, learn to recognize an ischemic event immediately so steps can be taken right away to reverse it. I hope that someday all injectors will be required to take a certification course, regardless of whether they are a nurse, physician's assistant, or a physician. This event inspired me to become more educated, so this has truly been a huge blessing in disguise. :-)

1 out of 5 stars Overall rating
1 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
1 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
1 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
1 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
1 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
1 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
1 out of 5 stars Payment process
1 out of 5 stars Wait times
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Thank you Neuro1. I hate lawsuits and negativity, so I've decided to heal and lean forward through education and outreach. My heart's goal is to travel and teach safety and gentle techniques. There is nothing that makes me feel better than to teach. I'm so sorry you had a similar experience as I had. I hope to speak with you sometime. Thank you so much for reaching out.
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Wow, that is incredible, Neuro1.
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Im sorry, but a lesson should be learned here!!!! Anyone who lets a simple nurse do these kinds of procedure, no matter how much "training" she or she had, is at fault and with all do respect, a fool. You dont let a LPN, LVN or RN do that kinda stuff PERIOD!!!! You ONLY let an experience experience medical doctor, who has done these kinds of procedure at least 100 times a year, fr many years is also board certified, preferably double board certified by physician, by the american board of plastic surgery, do these kinds of injection to your most venerable and visible part area of your body , which is The Face
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Shawn, are you in this field? I respectfully disagree. I am a MSN level RN and have been in this business for 15 years. I have done nothing else. I find physicians who practice another specialty full time while trying to make cash on the side with aesthetics MUCH scarier than RNs who do nothing BUT aesthetics. I agree that everyone (no matter which specialty) who is doing this should become certified in the field. I am in this field, and for the most part strongly believe that the best aesthetic injectors I've met are registered nurses with many years of experience and who do nothing else. There are excellent physician injectors, of course. I also know physicians who have dedicated their practices to aesthetics and are very talented. My point is, unless you are in this business, you probably don't see the reality that I see every day. Aesthetic nurses can be truly excellent in this field of medicine and it is perfectly legal. I would choose an aesthetic nurse over some plastic surgeon trying to augment his practice with some extra cash on the side. P.S. 100 times a year isn't enough to be excellent. I treat about 100 patients a week.
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I disagree Shawn78713. A Masters degree in nursing (MSN) educated RN with many years of experience is not a "simple nurse" and his/her education and experience is very different from an LPN or LVN. I am also a nurse, and was part of the team of 30 people who separated twins joined at the skull and brain. I was educated at Johns Hopkins and had 2 other degrees in science as well. I think the product itself is very dangerous.
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Thank you Neuro1. I'm a MSN too. I hope to get to know you and talk about how to advance Aesthetic Nursing through education. I'll read your post tonight. Thank you for reaching out, J
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I think you and others misunderstood me,when I said" simple nurse" I'm well aware what of the difference between an LVN/LPN and an RN with an associate or BSN or MSN. If you are a floor nurse, your educational level doesn't make a difference, if you work along side RN's who do the same work as you. But most people who have their masters don't work onthe floor. You either haveamasters to be a CNP, to be an educator.... If you however work on the floor as a staff nurse with your MSN, your masters degree is most likely not in nursing, but in something else. But this is not about that..... I'm a firm believer, that certain things should ONLY be done by a medical doctor and not by anyone else. Especially when it involves sticking needles into your face. That's just me....I'm not disrespecting a nurse, but there is a spot and place for a nurse. I wouldn't want a dental assistant or dental hygentist do any work on my teeth either, only she or he is a doctor of dentistry. But I always tell people, respect the person first, before respecting their title or degree
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Shawn, I understand and respect your viewpoint. I believe advanced practice nurses as well as RNs are extremely capable to be in the non-surgical facial aesthetics field. I also believe that because of the dangers of adverse events, we should spark some change in the US. Too many nurses, physicians, and physician extenders are injecting people with no experience and no training. This is wrong. I strongly believe that everyone, despite their degree or field, should first have extensive education on anatomy, product information, techniques, and training for adverse events. This education should lead to a certification. Then and only then, I believe manufacturers can sell to the practice. I hope it is only a matter of time before this takes place. I have been in this field since 1999, and have done nothing but aesthetics since I got my nursing degree. I can tell you quite honestly that there are extremely capable and talented RNs that would trust all over our country. You are right, we should respect the person first, their talent, and their knowledge, before we look at the letters after their name. We do need to stand up and insist on education for ALL in this growing field of medicine.
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Injector1 thank you so much for your highly informative posts. Sharing your experience will help many. It is also very important for patients to know which companies will stand behind them and step up to the plate to help when someone is injured. A little bit of caring would go such a long way. Even if the company just said, we'll give you some $$ to help w/ the repair, and please keep us posted so we can learn from this as well, that would have gone far. Kudos to you, and consumers, beware of Merz products, because apparently if something goes wrong they will not help you, you will be on your own. I myself had an IPL injury and am appalled by the device manufacturer's lack of response, (Sciton) and in fact, Sciton's active efforts to shun any involvement at all, to the point where it tried to refuse to accept a complaint from me. I made an adverse event report to the FDA, and also forwarded to the FDA the email in which Sciton tried to avoid accepting a complaint from me. It is my understanding that the FDA requires drug and device mfgr's to accept, process, and keep records of all complaints, and to have them on file to show to the FDA in the event of any FDA inspection or inquiry. INjector1, I hope you made at least an adverse event report to the FDA re: this event. If you didn't, it's not too late to do one now. I would submit photos to the FDA as well.
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Hi IPL Issues. I'm so sorry to hear you had so much trouble with Sciton. I will look into whether I made an FDA adverse event report. I do not remember. It was kind of a dark time, and there are things I just can't recall. My husband may have done that. Thank you for sharing your experience.
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Thanks so much for sharing your story, i was in shock while reading! Was the original site the nasiolabial folds, just wonderig bc I was thinking of doing that too
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I have no idea where the infection or injury to the skin originated from. My doctor didn't provide those details, but he did leave me with a lot to think about regarding Radiesse and Sculptra. Both have longer-lasting results, but probably not worth the risk. Something like Juvederm and Perlane can be removed if there is a problem.
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I go to a well-known and highly respected Boston plastic surgeon for my dermal fillers. He warned me about staying away from both Sculptra and Radiesse, because once those fillers are used, it is hard to erase possible side effects and injuries to the skin. Both products settle in like cement. He told me of a patient who had to have parts of her face cut out to try and remove the infected portions from Radiesse. Don't mess with it. His favorite filler is Perlane. He's in his 70s and has been around a long time. Brilliant man, actually.
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Radiesse does settle in like cement. Sculptra can have clumping issues if the patient doesn't massage for 5 days afterward, but it is usually not bad if kept away from areas such as under the eyes. My favorite fillers are Juvederm Ultra and Juvederm Ultra Plus. Juvederm Voluma is amazing for lifting faces. All of these products are hyluronic acid (like Perlane), which can be erased if something looks bad or if something goes wrong. They are very natural and natural-looking products as well. I am glad you have a wonderful injector. He sounds like he knows his stuff. :-)
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Thanks for your detailed journey now I'm nervous if I should proceed with my injection. The great part is that you are over your hell & look beautiful.
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Thank you Azteca. Just find someone who does nothing but aesthetics and has many years of experience. Look for someone certified too. Choosing a knowledgeable injector is critical. Ask questions such as "What would you do if the product blocks blood flow in my face?" If they don't rattle off what they would immediately do, just say "thank you for your time." :-)
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Azteca305. I am Neuro1 an RN with a bad response to Radiesse. Please see my recent post and history. Please don't use Radiesse. Only use something which can be reversed in needed, (hyaluronidase product). Being prepared to pay again for a repeat procedure in 12 months is soooo much better than my posted photos and not being able to breathe. I now must carry an epipen in case I have an other episode. Good luck. Ask tons of questions.
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Thanks Injector1, I decided to do Botox on my crows feet & glabella. To tell you the truth I chickened out. Supposedly Dr. Shino Bay is one of the top injectors in the nation but I'm still too nervous. Sincerely hope you continue to get only better & that the worst is over.
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Dear Neuro1, you fought an awful battle & glad to read you're improving. Your pictures helped me great deal & know it will help many others considering this procedure. It's pathetic & enraging how much power these pharmaceutical companies have. Thanks for sharing this difficult experience! Best wishes :)
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I too had a vascular injection, almost one year ago exactly. I am a 41 year old female and my life is forever changed because of it. My injector used a new technique that he, himself came up with 6 months prior. This consisted of putting tape across my check up toward my scalp, pulling the skin taught, and then injecting. he did tell me that he "got a blood vessel" but assured me that it was no big deal. He continued injecting, sent me off with an ice pack, and I left. 30 minutes later I knew something was very wrong. I went back to tell him but he had left for the day. The receptions told me that they had never seen a reaction like this, and to go to ER if I want to. The next day I had a horrible headache, my scalp was a weird color and I developed scabs all over that side of my scalp. Within 1 week, all of my hair in that region fell out. About the size of an orange. As if that were not bad enough, the real pain started soon after, and here I am 1 year later with trigeminal neuralgia from trauma. After trying many drugs like gabapentin and tegretol, my neurosurgeon has suggested microvascular decompression surgery. I cannot believe that this happened to me.
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Oh, horrible, that is such a sad story. Thank you so much for sharing. Have you undergone the surgery yet? What education and experience did your injector have? Is he a physician? If so, which specialty? Sending you healing thoughts and e-hugs. Please stay in touch and let us all know how you are doing.
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Thanks so much for sharing your story. I am sad that it happened to you, but glad that you found a way to deal with it and are now much better. I am a victim of a botched rhinoplasty and have been through a very rough time with a disfigured face and guilt over going through a very unnecessary plastic surgery. Stories like yours (and also mine) have helped me learn valuable lessons in dangers of plastic surgery and really educating myself since many doctors don't do it for the fear of losing the business. You are gorgeous with or without any fillers.
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