Adventures of the 1%: Woman Gets $20K Facial, Grows Bones in Her Eye Socket

By Megan McIntyre, Refinery29

.So...if something is more expensive, that's gotta mean it's more effective, right? You get what you pay for, and all? Well, yeah that's kind of not true. In today's tale from the beauty school of hard knocks, a woman in Beverly Hills spent $20,000 on a high-tech facial that claimed to help lift and tighten her face. What she got instead was excruciating pain in her right eye and a clicking noise every time she opened and closed her eye. That clicking turned out to be bones -extra bones that had grown in her eye socket as a result of the treatment. #1%problems?

According to a report published in Scientific American, the very-scientific-sounding stem cell facial was administered by a cosmetic surgeon who "removed abdominal fat cells with liposuction and isolated the adult stem cells within - a family of cells that can make many copies of themselves in an immature state and can develop into several different kinds of mature tissue. In this case the doctors extracted mesenchymal stem cells - which can turn into bone, cartilage or fat, among other tissues - and injected those cells back into her face. Such facelifts supposedly rejuvenate the skin because stem cells turn into brand-new tissue and release chemicals that help heal aging cells and stimulate nearby cells to proliferate."

Sounds hunky dory, right? Except that the doctors also injected her face with a dermal filler during the procedure, one that contained calcium hydroxylapatite, "a mineral with which cell biologists encourage mesenchymal stem cells to turn into bone - a fact that escaped the woman's clinicians." That lovely combination is what doctors think caused the cells to turn into bone and result in this freakish "side-effect."

We can't tell you how many times we've heard - and told others - not to cheap out on cosmetic procedures, but this horror story just goes to show that even when you pay top dollar, you're still not guaranteed any safety, especially when undergoing procedures using relatively new technology or ingredients. While these ingredients are tested for their safety, they may not be tested with other commonly used treatments (the dermal filler the surgeon used has been on the market and used safely by doctors for over 20 years), which can result in freaky issues like, you know, growing extra bones. Out of your eye.

We're all for new advancements in the industry, but it'd be nice if people tested this stuff out a bit more thoroughly. Because if this happened at some fancy-schmancy Beverly Hills doctor's office, what are we risking getting a facial at that shady place around the corner that we have a Groupon for?


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