Artecoll/Artefill/Bellafill - Ticking Timebomb! - United Kingdom

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15 years ago I had PMMA filler Artecoll, which has...

15 years ago I had PMMA filler Artecoll, which has since resurfaced as Artefill and Bellafill, injected into my lips by a top UK surgeon. I was deoighted with the results, very natural and no problems. Then 6 months ago I noticed my lips looked a bit bigger - I thought it was an alergy or the heat but over time people started to ask me if Id recently had lip fillers (something no-one ever asked when I actually had the work done). All of a sudden over the space of one weekend my lips broke out in huge lumps, one, luckily on the inside of my mouth, that is probably the size of a peanut. The lumps on the front of my lips are sharp andfeel like broken glass under the skin, I have a row of sharp lumps alalong the wet/dry line of my top lip that look and feel like Im sprouting teeth. Turns out these lumps are glass - PMMA filler is plexiglass beads and the theory is that my immune system has changed and suddenly my body wants to reject the Artecoll. I am scheduled for surgery on 5 Jan, costing £4k. I have been told I will probably need more than one surgery plus fat grafts (which I cant afford so this will be the best its ever going to look). They are going to have to remove part of my own lip tissue because the Artecoll is now bonded to it. Ive attached aphoto of what I looked like a year ago and how my mouth looks now. The Moral is - NEVER have anything permanent injected into your face, you can do your homework and like me pick a good surgeon but he is only working with the information the manufacturers provide to get these fillers to market. In Artecolls case, I believe information on some complications was buried plus they never seem to be on the market long enough to see the long term complications. When these start to surface it appears the product is voluntarily withdrawn and slightly reformulated then launched under another name ie Artefill, Bellafill. Also the manufacturers seem to go into liquidation a lot but then spring back up with similar shareholders but this means you cant sue them. Lastly, you dont know how your body will change, maybe like me your immune system will cause problems or maybe something as simple as losing a lit of weight, naturally as you grow older will leave you with ridiculously inflated lips or silly looking over-round cheeks. In short, permanent filler = permanent problems. If anyone has had surgical removal of multiple pmma granulomas on the outside of your lips id love to here from you. Would be good to see someone elses results and hear about your experience.

Day after surgery

Traumatic day yesterday. Three hours of surgery followed by five hours trying to stabilise me as my blood oxygen levels dropped so low. All incisions and stitches inside my mouth and Im just not brave enough to look at the outside properly let alone the inside. When I pluck up the courage I'll post pics. From looking in the mirror from afar, through my fingers) I can see that even with swelling my lips look horribly thin and the wet/dry line on my top lip looks very un even but that could be from stitches. Havent spoke to the surgeon yet so dont know if he got it all out or if ill need more surgery but pretty sure ill need fat grafts.

Pretty painful just after op but they really managed my pain well with local anaesthetic and morphine. It was just the whole experience that has been traumatic and not sure its over so still ver y worried.

Eating ok, just need s8ft food that can be cut up small. Soup, ice cream, yogurt or anything that needs to be eaten off a spoon is impossible. Only able to drink through a straw and not esy to talk.

No pa7n this morning but not looking forward to trying to clean my teeth!

Day 1 after surgery

Just heard from the surgeon and he said he didnt have to remove any of my own tissue but managed to remove most of the Artecoll. I'm over the moon. Dont care how much pain and discomfort I have to go through so long as Ive got lips left! Still might need some fat grafts to fill in some dents left from the lumps but thats small fry after what Ive just been through. Starting to feel a bit more optomistic that I wont be deformed.

Day 2 after surgery

Very swollen, not much pain but cant talk very well and dribbling a lot. Looks a mess and still very lumpy but hoping this is partly due to the stitches and the gaps made from the huge lumps removed and will settle down. The wet/dry line along my lips is very wavy. Doesnt look too good at the moment but if it doesnt settle then maybe fat grafts will smooth everything out. They can be done under local anaesthetic so not so scary but goodness knows what it will cost.

Day 4 post surgery

Very down today, maybe after effects of anaesthetic or maybe the nightmare of thecwhole situation has hit me. I dont feel ill ever look normal again. Still lots of swelling and not much feeling. My mum and sister reckon Im speaking better today so thats something. Still cant eat anything other than sandwiches cut into tiny cubes and still lots of drooling. Soup, ice cream, yogurt are all out as its impossible to use a spoon and can still only drink through a straw. Still cant pluck up courage to look inside my mouth but feels like each lip was sliced open end to end. I can still see dents and gouges along the wet/dry line which is really upsetting me. Looks like Ive got a flesh eating disease. I hate the makers of Artecoll/Artesense/Artefill/Bellafill or whatever name this dodgy manufacturer is calling its product these days!

Day 5 post surgery

Not much to report....still feeling very down, still dribbling, still swollen like a trout. Think my top lip is looking smoother where lumps were removed along the too so thats a positive. Stitches starting to pinch now. Hoping Ill be more comfortable when they get removed on Thursday.

This is what was removed from my lips!

All Artecoll, none of my own tissue. So much for only lasting around 5 years. This has expanded to 3-4 times the amount I had injected. You can see the sharp bits that were starting to work their way out through the skin. Horrendous!

13 days post surgery

Most of the swelling gone. Eating and talking better. I know i should be grateful as I could have been left very disfigured but I cant bear to look at my lips, they are so ugly. Cant imagine I wont eventually want some level of reconstruction further down the line.

19 days post surgery

Oh god, I hate this tiny, wrinkly mouth. I know its better than those silly, swollen, oversized lips but I feel like ive got a prune on my face. Its very pulled down and the gap between my nose and top lip looks huge. Im talking and eating better but still not back to normal. Getting mire feeling back in my lips each day which is good but the downside is that I can now feel the pain from the wounds which are very sensitive and sore - bit like Ive geen chewing razor blades! I cant wait to get some kind of reconstruction and feel normal again but I am very grateful. I know I am very lucky with the results and it could have geen a lot worse.

Doctor -5 stars

Just to clarify...the same doc put the Artecoll in that took it out. He's a very good surgeon and when he used the product it was certified and safe to the best of his knowledge although he has chosen not to use it any more. My issue is with the manufacturer andthe insufficient testing carried out prior to EU certification. Im at the 4 week stage now and at this point Id have to say that the surgeon, Jan Stanek, appears to have done an exceptional job at removing the artecoll while causing the minimum of disfigurement. I am confident to continue treatment with him for reconstruction.
Mr S, London

1 out of 5 stars Overall rating
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