A story and accompanying video published by Daily Mail recently went viral about a 41-year-old woman, Nong Guang from Thailand, who experienced an infection two years after receiving injections in her forehead to treat her wrinkles.
Guang was alarmed when her face became soft and “squidgy” to the touch, leading her to believe something had gone wrong. Earlier this month (two years after her treatment), she checked into a Bangkok clinic (not the clinic where Guang originally received the fillers) complaining of pain in her forehead at the site of the injections. The area had become infected, and the only way to release the buildup was to make a small incision and slowly squeeze it out.
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After 10 minutes of extracting the lump of gunk that was living inside her face, surgeons stitched Guang up and she is said to be fine ever since. As Guang told Daily Mail: “I had the filler two years ago, but over the last three or four days it had started to hurt a lot, so I went to see the doctor. My whole forehead was soft and squidgy when it was touched. The plastic surgery was infected. The doctor said there was a problem with it. It hurt a lot and I could move it around under my skin. It left a hole when it was touched. But I’m happy it has been fixed now.”
Although that’s the reported story, when we reached out to a number of dermatologists asking what type of filler could lead to this type of complication, they came back with a surprising answer.
Delray Beach, FL, dermatologist Dr. Janet Allenby, says, “Although I’m not familiar with the facts of the case, after watching the video, it looks to me like the substance being extruded is fat rather than pus—it also doesn’t look like an infection at all. My guess without real information is the patient had fat transferred to her forehead and it was either too much or grew, which can happen. That’s why fat transfers are more unpredictable than hyaluronic acid fillers. It’s also possible she had a type of congenital fat accumulation like a benign lipoma.”
New York dermatologist Estee Williams, MD, also viewed the video and came to a similar conclusion independently. “It is exceedingly rare for fillers to cause an infection, however fillers are a foreign substance, and the procedure does involve a break in the skin, thus infection is a possibility. I do not believe that this story depicts an infection, however. Both the images and the patient’s history point more to a lipoma, which is a benign fatty growth. Pus is typically pale yellow or green and liquidy. It is not well formed or ‘squidgy.’ You can see in the photo that the lob of fat removed is very intact and not at all liquidy like pus.”
Regardless, hearing stories like this—whether it’s a case of botched filler or something else—always bring us back to one very important message: Do your research when selecting a doctor to perform your cosmetic injections, and any other procedure for that matter. Look for someone who is board-certified in dermatology or plastic surgery and has solid reviews, as well as a good reputation. This will help eliminate any potential risk when undergoing these types of treatments. After all, the goal is to look and feel your best, not end up at a hospital with complications.
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