* cost and doctor remain anonymous and I have put generic information into those fields
My name is Carolynn and this is my story. About 2 years ago, I made a bad decision. Calling it a bad decision in an understatement; as it changed my life forever. My life was going well. My body was in pretty good shape. I had a little lower tummy "pooch" I just couldn’t shake it though, no matter how hard I worked out or how healthy I ate. A friend told me about an exciting noninvasive procedure called Mesotherapy, and I was intrigued by the idea.
Mesotherapy (from Greek mesos, "middle", and therapy from the Greek word therapeia, "to treat medically", is a non-surgical cosmetic medicinal treatment with no downtime or scarring. Mesotherapy, also known as Lipodissolve, employs multiple injections of pharmaceutical and homeopathic medications, plant extracts, avocado, vitamins, and other ingredients into subcutaneous fat. Mesotherapy injections allegedly target and latch onto adipose fat cells, apparently by inducing lipolysis, rupture and cell death among adipocytes. The fat is than secreted through sweat pores, urine, and fecal matter. I realize now that this is an absolutely ludicrous and unrealistic approach and just isn't feasible.
I have never gotten any sort of procedure done before, and I liked this idea because it wasn't surgery and there was no scarring involved. I'm not a big fan of scars of any kind. Little did I know that I would be getting more than 30 of them shortly. The procedure seemed to be very easy. Just a couple of injections into my abdomen (my pain tolerance is extremely high) and in a matter of weeks, my fat would "melt" away! It seemed a lot like CoolSculpting or Thermage. Little did I know that I was about to enter the first layer of hell.
Here comes the shameful part. In order to save myself from shelling out the big bucks, I went with a friend to an unskilled injector. They weren't slicing me open, so I figured, how could this person really do this procedure "wrong"? I had done so much research on the produce that I realized it didn't take a "rocket scientist" to perform a couple of shots/injections. It all seemed as easy as Juvederm or Botox, and they have Botox parties where the entire procedure seems very unprofessional and unsanitary. I guess I just thought this was similar and that there was no need to pay over $1,000 for something so simple. Seeing how lightly people were taking these "lunch-time" procedures lead me to the asinine decision to work with an unlicensed injector and let her inject God knows what into my abdomen.
The procedure was easy and pain-free. It seemed I was on my way to firmer abs and no pooch! The next morning I felt about 25-30 nodules where I had been injected. There were under the skin and were burning, itching, and frankly, quite strange looking. I did my research on this and mesotherapy creates temporary nodules that "attach themselves to the fat and disappear while eating away at the fat that than exits the body through sweat and urine. For the next month, the nodules didn’t go down or change in any way. I had to hide my stomach, I was in incredible pain, and even standing up, bending up or putting a seat belt on became a huge ordeal. Little did I know that soon this would become a way of life for me for the next 6 months! But according to many websites, this was normal and they would eventually shrink and disappear. I was annoyed and started to get very worried. But my skin was not cut, and I had no scarring.
Here is the part of the story where all hell breaks loose. A nodule (or so I thought) started to grow next to my belly button into a large, excruciatingly painful ball of fire. I read about how to make the nodules from mesotherapy disappear faster, and massage seemed to help other people. I tried massaging the nodule, and this only made it worse and more irritated. The size of the "nodule" grew even more and the pain got so bad that the next day I hauled ass to my family practitioner's office. Turns out, this was no nodule at all. This was an abscess. A big, ugly, firey abscess that had to be sliced open and drained immediately. I was horrified. This was all wrong. What had happened here? There is nothing in the world I hate more than scarring. I keloid. I don't scar well. I never have.
At the doctor's office I told him my story, before falling into a sea of sobs. He was horrified and knew that this was just the beginning. I didn't even know how this would feel. I deal pretty well with pain. I can take a lot of it and barely even squint or make a sound. But this was a whole other ballpark. The doctor stuck a needle into my abdominal abscess to numb the pain from what he was about to do. I had to take off one of my socks and shove it in my mouth to keep me from screaming bloody murder. Then he took out what was pretty identical to an exacto knife and cut into me. He soon rushed me to an infectious disease doctor. My world began to crush. I had recently scored an amazing modeling gig and even the slightest scar or tattoo makes a big difference in that vapid world.
I wish I only had to deal with one abscess. My practitioner had covered me with bandages after the incision and drainage; but I bled through them almost immediately. The worst part is this could not be stitched in any way; it had to heal on its own from the inside out. The next couple weeks were a blur. Every time I looked down, there was another abscess. Abscesses were popping up EVERYWHERE! Everywhere I had been injected (over 30 times). It was summer time and I spent my weeks going to the infectious disease doctor and a surgeon who had to lance me ONCE A WEEK. We would look at how many new abscessed popped up, and he would lay me down and I would get lanced. It was my new routine; my new life. I was emotionally so messed up in the head at this point and couldn't understand what was happening to me. I'm actually crying while I'm writing this but I'm going to try and continue.
Basically there was a rare mycobacteria inside the formula and on the syringe that the unskilled injector had used on me. Wherever I was injected , the body tried to attack that spot with thousands of white blood cells which formed abscesses.
Specifically, the bacteria found were mycobacteria chelonae. I can't even begin to explain to you the blood and pus. I had about 35 open wounds with pus and blood gushing out of them. I would sometimes push on the abscesses so that the pus would come out faster, because the build-up of pus inside the abscess was so uncomfortable and painful that I would sometimes try to squeeze the abscesses to get some relief. I felt ugly and depressed, and with good reason. My abdomen was very unpleasant and obviously unattractive to look at; which made me feel that I was ugly as a whole.
I was on so many painkillers all the time. I even lost my job. I couldn't drive, couldn't walk and couldn't sit up. It was equivalent to me being stabbed in the abs with a knife over 38 times (which is exactly what had happened when I was lanced if you stop and think about it). I tried so hard to be positive. All my life I never knew this level of pain could exist. I had experienced third degree burns, severe strep throat, cluster headaches, and some pretty bad sinus infections but none of them even came close to the amount of pain I was going through.
My life revolved around changing my bandages, (I had blood dripping from my abs down my legs and to my feet every week when I was incised), and remembering to take my hardcore antibiotics that my infectious disease doctor had prescribed to me. I was on the highest doses of Rifampin, Ciprofloxacin HCL, and Clarithromycin every day and almost had to do an overnight stay where the antibiotics would be administered intravenously. These antibiotics were all giving me horrible side-effects and I was fainting all the time from dehydration and the diarrhea, sleep problems, and I was ALWAYS dizzy and drowsy. My life had become a hell from my mesotherapy injections and I feared the abscesses would never stop coming. The doctors didn't even know what to do, and they wanted to get a better look at exactly what all of this was, so I had to get a same-day surgery where they took a biopsy (which was actually a pretty large chunk!) of one of my abscesses to further examine what was going on.
I went through almost 6 months of continuing abscesses, and 6 months of physical abuse. After knocking this mycobacteria over and over again with these antibiotics, the abscesses eventually stopped coming. I was free of being incised but left with unsightly, itchy scars. The surgeon who lanced me wasn't overly concerned with aesthetics at this point; as there was no real way to make this look pretty. He basically turned my once beautiful abs into Swiss cheese.
I have lived with this for two years now and talked to friends, family, and therapists to try to overcome the emotional and physical pain I went through. I have saved up in hopes that my bizarre case may be helped. I am finally trying to move on with my life and trying to correct the situation that happened to me. This mistake I made will live and be a part of me forever. Obviously the only way to remove a scar is to create another scar, but I would be ever so happy if I could at least have a scar that could be concealed. So I'm asking for your help. Your advice. Your input. Please.
I currently weigh 161 pounds and I have a pooch. I would need a full or extended abdominalplasty to remove the scars that are present. I need more than a lipoabdominalplasty. I understand that I need as much skin as possible here and I have provided lots of pictures of me as of today (January 14th, 2014). People don't wear their underwear or bathing suits high on the sides like they did in the 80's, so that's the only part of an abdominalplasty scar I find to be unfitting and I would be unable to conceal. Please let me know what I can do and how I can achieve the lowest, straightest scar possible. I don't care about the cost, I understand this is a hard case but having a very high scar would defeat the purpose of even getting surgery to remove these scars. I'm proud that I was able to share my story and would love to see what someone out there may be able to do for me with removing this section of skin on my abs, even if it takes a long time to recover or is very painful, I can deal with that. I understand I'll never get back to the model, scar-free body I had before, but if I had a long scar from hip to hip that could be concealed, I'd be very happy with that. Thanks again for reading. I'm flattered and honored for those of you that took the time out to even read my story.
*after doing more research, I'm wondering if there is any way that there can be an umbilicalplasty performed and just a section of the scars could be excised? Or even if just the area was excised and a new thinner, nicer scar was left that I could later have lasers on to lighten it. I'd be okay with that. I just would love this area to look close to normal again. I understand there may be some pleating if too big of a section of skin is excised and an umbilicalplasty was performed- I'm just trying to think of alternate ideas besides getting an abdominalplasty because I just may not have enough skin for that job and I do have fears that I'd have a tougher time than most recovering because the incision is going to be so tight because I have don’t have much skin to work with. Is there a way a circle could be cut and a new scar created? I'd be happy with one shorter scar obviously, I just need some ideas. Maybe a square shape around the scars could be cut out? Help me :-(