Plastic Surgery 101

A lesson in injections from the ‘Miami Housewives’

Q. Mama Elsa on the Housewives of Miami said she had bad plastic surgery and that a surgeon did all that to her. What is your opinion of what really happened?

Things aren’t always what they seem to be. Take, for example, the name of the show, Housewives of Miami. Most of the characters are not housewives, yet the show is named that.

While Mama Else may have had some plastic surgery in the past, I believe what has caused her more harm is the “other’’ stuff she has had injected into her face.

I have been practicing in Miami for about 25 years and have seen thousands of patients with the same problem, biopolymer injections. The patient is often told that that they are being injected with lamb embryo, shark cartilage or whatever seems to be in vogue at the time. Often, patients are told that the material will last for years. Unfortunately the disastrous consequences will last for years as well.

Initially, the area that receives the injections may look good. But as your body recognizes the injected material does not belong to you, your body starts to reject it. It literally grows tissue around the area in order to protect itself.

I’ve seen many patients who look very much like Mama Elsa. I suspect the resemblance between Mama Elsa and her daughter is not only genetic but they may have gone to the same injector.

Often a “friend” brings in another friend because they are getting a free treatment or they are getting a kickback to bring in an unsuspecting patient. More times than not, the person doing the injections is not a doctor and is usually from a foreign country (that way they can get away with this). While I would need to physically examine Mama Elsa to confirm this theory, her look is typical of a patient in the later stages of biopolymer injections.

Fortunately, there is a treatment for this problem. I have treated hundreds of patients successfully for this condition over the past many years. Depending on what area of the face the deformity exists, treatment may consist of steroid injections to mitigate the inflammatory reaction or directly cutting out the excess tissue. More recently I have started using 5 FU (an anti cancer drug, off label, in severe cases with great results).

Clearly, in treating patients with this problem, the cure should not be more dangerous than the problem, so each patient needs to be evaluated individually.

The best solution to this problem is to avoid being injected with materials by non-physicians where you do not know what they are injecting you with. Even smart people do foolish things when it comes to beauty!