Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Brandi Glanville recently took to YouTube to explain why half her mouth doesn’t move when she talks.
In the 12-minute video, Glanville reveals that she had suffered third-degree burns from a laser hair removal treatment gone wrong, causing “nerve damage” and “scar tissue,” and resulting her in inability to “talk straight.”
“Everyone wants to know why my top lip doesn’t move. You can see it right here. It’s a little white circle,” Glanville says in the video. “I had laser hair removal on my upper lip, oh gosh, 2009, maybe 2008, and I got a third-degree burn. And my face on the right side doesn’t move the way my face on the left side moves.”
Needless to say, with laser hair removal being such a sought-after treatment, we were a little unnerved (ha!) to hear of this potentially paralyzing side effect. We tapped a couple facial plastic surgeons to get a better understanding of facial anatomy.
“Timeline-wise, it’s not clear when the facial paralysis started after laser hair removal. However, while anything can happen, it would be unusual for facial paralysis to result from laser treatments, as the facial nerve is usually deeper to the level of the burn,” explains Beverly Hills, CA facial plastic surgeon, Kimberly Lee, MD. “With deeper burns, sensory nerve endings can be affected, which can lead to numbness. The facial nerve is a motor nerve that is deeper and more robust than sensory nerves. To affect this nerve, the burn would have to be quite deep and substantial and would have to be located in the course of the nerve itself.”
New York facial plastic surgeon Matthew White, MD agrees that while laser hair removal certainly isn’t risk-free, it’s not likely to cause facial paralysis. “The lasers used for hair removal can’t penetrate deeply enough to damage the facial nerves directly,” he explains. “However, a laser could reactivate a virus, which can lead to Bell’s Palsy, [a condition that does cause paralysis].”
Bottom line: While it’s not so clear-cut what might have happened, Glanville’s experience is a reminder that all cosmetic procedures come with some risk of side effects. Seeing a qualified professional is crucial to ensuring you get the best results.
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