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

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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.


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.


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
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1 out of 5 stars Wait times
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