Skin filler problems: when filler treatments go terribly wrong.

Hi Dr Irwin, I made the huge mistake of getting one vial of Sculptra in August 2014 followed by Radiesse nearly a year later in September 2015 (5 separate 1.5 vials) then my second round of Sculptra in October 2015. I was very unhappy with the results and went back to another injector who told me that more Radiesse was needed to even everything out so another 1.5 vial was added. I am currently a bloated shapeless mess. It looks like my face is made out of dough and I have ruined my bone structure. Nobody told me the Radiesse was semi permanent either, and I feel I have ruined my looks. I'm only 28 and really don't know what to do. I know they can't be dissolved like HA fillers but there must be something else that can be done? My face just keeps growing out of proportion - I look disfigured and cry every day about it. I don't know what to do because so much was injected (and layered on top of another) that I feel it may well last longer than 2 years. Could it? I have read in some people 2 vials of Sculptra alone (without all the Radiesse on top) can last 4 years plus. Please could you offer me some advice :( Thank you.

My heart goes out to you on a skin filler problem like this.   I can tell that you are suffering.   If I had a magic wand and could make this all go away, I truly would.  This type of event is traumatic in the same way that a car accident is.   It can take months or occasionally even a year or more to get back to normal.   And…….it is real test of your strength mentally, emotionally and in your spirit to be able to move forward in spite of this.  I think you can do it though because you are already reaching out to me and others for help ……and that is often the first step.   Let’s talk about both the options and the psychological part.

Our minds are very powerful and it’s important that you use that power well right now so here are some thoughts:

  • Talk to your primary care doctor about this skin filler problem and get a referral to a good counselor.   That person can help you with the emotional challenges for the coming months;
  • There’s a wonderful book by Brene Brown called Rising Strong that talks about overcoming serious challenges;
  • Try to find something to inspire you every day.   Read about people who have overcome tremendous hardships and gone on to make a contribution to our world;
  • Remember that you notice your face much more than other people do……..especially men (sorry no offense men), but many people are just not very observant;
  • Think about amazing women that you know or know of, who’ve struggled with a physical problem like weight (like Oprah), or something else, and come out the other side;

On the medical side:

  • This is NOT permanent and while it’s true that you cannot use hyaluronidase to remove Sculptra or Radiesse, this volume will begin to slowly reduce, and 6 months from now it will generally look much better;
  • Generally Radiesse will last about 9 months and Sculpta 1-2 years.  Most of what you’re seeing in your face is Radiesse, so it should be faster to resolve.
  • Please, please, please do not have anything else injected into your face for at least a year, unless it’s by an expert and it’s hyaluronic acid only which can be reversed;
  • Using any radiofrequency device like Thermage, Ultherapy etc.  is NOT a good idea until your face is back to normal.  It can stimulate more collagen production;
  • Avoid the websites for now that are really just medical gossip – they will make you feel worse!

Please let me know if you have more questions, and I’ll try to answer them.   I hope this helps for a skin filler problem that has gone wrong,  Dr. Irwin

See Dr. Irwin’s article on Filler Problems and How to Fix Them

Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD

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Hi, I’m Dr. Irwin, and I believe that consumers need and deserve a medically trained and unbiased skincare advocate.

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