laser peel disaster: 2 yrs later

today it’s been 18 months since my laser peel disaster which i blogged about extensively in the category, my micro-laser peel diary. if you want your stomach churned, go back and read those posts and take a look at those pictures. be warned though, it’s not pretty.

one of my major concerns about going on survivor, was the further damage my skin might sustain, seeing that i still have a few bad hyperXpigmentation spots left, even now. so in the interests of keeping you updated, here are some candid shots of what it looks like now.

part of the "zorro_mask" i still have around my eyes

on the other side

————————–

my life over the past few months was so insane that this post has been sitting unfinished in my drafts folder for the past 6 months.

on the 4th of august it was 2 yrs since  i unintentionally paid  a fortune to have my formerly flawless skin branded in a futile effort at an approximation of a more youthful look. i can’t say that there’s much difference between what it looked like 6 months ago and now. i still have a “mask of zorro” around my eyes which when you look carefully, you can see through the make-up i wear every day for work. sometimes the hyperpigmentation just looks like dirty marks around my eyes. it is the bane of my life.

ironically it doesn't look as bad in these pix

 

you can see it pretty clearly here, though.

i have heard so many horror stories from other people about laser peel disasters. nicole flint, miss SA, had her legs scarred by someone who didn’t use the laser properly. obviously in hindsight, it being 20/20 and all,  i wouldn’t have had the procedure, but i think when one pays good money and goes to someone who is supposed to be reputable, it is not unreasonable  to expect to get the service advertised and not be scarred for life instead.

for anyone considering laser peel treatments, be *very* careful who you go to. make sure they’re reputable (even though the one i went to at the CENSORED seeemed to be) and make sure the treatment is appropriate for your pigmentation type.

this is not an experience i would wish on anyone.  except maybe the person who did this to me. though actually, not even him.

Advertisements

to b(bl) or not to b(bl)

yesterday afternoon i finally made it back to see dr  CENSORED of the CENSORED  over at CENSORED. he did my laser peel just over 9 months ago. my laser peel which for a multitude of reasons was a horror-story waiting to unfold. you can read all about it, with pictures from day 1 in the category “my micro-laser peel diary”.

CENSORED’s been calling and asking me to come in so that we could see how he can fix this, but i’ve been resisting (i’m sure the fact that this blog exists has not been good PR for him), seeing that he was suggesting using more laser to fix the damage caused by the first laser treatment. and when you see the pictures and read my account of the first experience, you’ll understand why i’ve been leary.

when i saw him yesterday he was very adamant about doing whatever it took to make me “happy”.”at no charge. of course”.

can i just state for the record that though i’m happy he wants to fix the damage, i’m mad as hell that he caused the damage in the first place.

ok that said. he suggested  3 possible treatments.

  • blending and bleaching cream; i bought it from him when i had the laser treatment (not cheap). didn’t work. alternative. hydroquinone 6% soln mixed with aqueous cream. this worked before, but bleached my whole face.
  • pro-fractional laser treatment.  he mentioned this before, which is why i haven’t been back as i subsequently got this comment from a dr on one of my posts:

The laser used for your peel was the Sciton Contour. It is and ablative erbium laser and with this laser there is a high chance of hyperpigmentation in your skin type. Ablative means that the entire surface of your skin is ablated off and this raises the already high chance of hyperpigmentation in your skin type. The Fraxel laser (or profractional) laser that your doc offered to use on you to treat the hyperpigmentation is also an erbium laser, but it is fractional — meaning the laser shoots scattered dots of laser energy on your skin without ablating the entire surface of your skin. This laser can also cause hyperpigmentation, though not to the same extent because the entire surface of your skin is not being treated. It is especially dangerous in your case because you already have pre-existing hyperpigmentation. I have seen people with type V skin who look like they have a dark dotted pattern covering their face after this treatment. It will do nothing to help resolve your problem. If I were to treat a patient who wants their hyperpigmentation more speedily resolved, I wouldn’t even consider fraxel as option as their are much better lasers available to do the job, but even then, the best and safest bet is not to treat at all.

  • broad band light.

this is the info i’ve managed to find on the different kinds of lasers:

bblvsprofrac

What is ProFractional?

Pro-Fractional is a quick and comfortable laser procedure with little to no downtime, used for improving the overall appearance of your skin. ProFractional dramatically improve wrinkles, scars and sun-damaged skin. Pro-Fractional uses a laser micro-beam to treat thousands of pinpoint areas of your skin. And because only a fraction of the skin is directly treated with the laser, healing time is quick and downtime is short.

What conditions can be  treated with Pro-Fractional?

  • Wrinkles
  • Fine lines
  • Post-traumatic scars
  • Acne scars
  • Age spots
  • Sun spots
  • Freckles
  • Aging skin
  • Sun-damaged skin
  • Stretch marks

How does the Pro-Fractional laser work?

Pro-Fractional uses laser energy to create thousands of microscopic channels in the skinwhich are surrounded by areas of healthy, untreated skin. The zones of untreated skin invigorate the body’s natural healing process, and the treated areas stimulate production of new collagen, plumping up the skin and smoothing out wrinkles, lines, scars and other irregularities.

so i’ve made an appointment to be back later for the first of at least two bbl treatments. i’ve been putting off going back to the doctor because i’ve also hoped that the hyperpigmentation would go away on its own, but after 9 months, i’m reasonably sure that’s not going to happen. in fact, it looks pretty much like it’s here to stay if i don’t do something about it.

my s.o. thinks i’m crazy to go back to the person who scarred me in the first place.

my appointment’s for 4pm wednesday. *am* i crazy? what do you think?

laser peel disaster: 9 months later

on sunday night carte blanche (for non saffers, a long running tv magazine program) did an expose of beauty salons doing treatments they’re not legally qualified to do and instead of getting the enhancements for which clients are paying top-dollar, they  are instead being scarred and put through agony.

having undergone something very similar, blogging and posting photos of the disaster from day one,  i thought i’d do an update post.

just over nine months since i decided to undergo a laser peel, my face is still slightly hyper-pigmented and scarred. though admittedly dr CENSORED of the CENSORED who did the procedure,  has left me messages  a number of times and after some phone tag we finally spoke. he’s asked me to come in so that he can see what we can do to remedy this. so far i’ve not had the time, but as long as it does not involve more lasers, i’m willing to go and meet with him. though unbelievably, this morning the make-up artist at the studio was again complaining about how dark the “zorro mask” around my eyes still is and was struggling to cover it.

i think now is a good time to reiterate what i wrote  shortly after getting the procedure done and in the interests of science and saving anyone else the horror, even though they actually don’t show how dark and obvious the marks still are,  i will publish some more very candid (read, unflattering) pictures of me. (be kind).

based on my experience, here’s what i can advise anyone else thinking of getting a micro-laser peel or periorbital laser resurfacing:

  • 1. be absolutely certain you know what you’re letting yourself in for.
  • 2. ask as many questions as you can think of.
  • 3. be prepared for anything.
  • 4. a laser peel is different from a tca peel. it’s deeper, and takes more recovery time.
  • 5. it’s going to hurt more than you think it will.
  • 6. you’ll get over it…
  • 7. … if you give yourself enough time to recover. i’d suggest at least a full week.
  • 8. if your job, as does mine, entails being under studio lights, know that every little irregularity will be magnified. give yourself twice as much recovery time.
  • 9. have someone who can drive you to and from the procedure, to post-op visits, pick up prescriptions and just generally take care of you.
  • 10. do not do this procedure unless you’re 100% healthy. the recovery places huge stress on your immune system, so make sure it’s entirely up to par.
  • 11. don’t pick! do not touch your face unless it’s absolutely necessary and then only as little as possible.
  • 12. did i mention it before? DO NOT PICK  AT YOUR FACE! if you do, you will regret it.
  • 13. if you’re bi-racial, or have an olive skin-tone, think seriously before doing this procedure and ask your doctor if it’s advisable. i’m beginning to think it’s not.
  • 9 MONTHS POST-PEEL, i’d say that it’s definitely not a good idea. i still have the traces of a zorro mask around my eyes and the striations on my jaw-line have not entirely gone away as i’d hoped they would with time.
  • a candid no make-up shot from before the peel. look at the quality of my skin.

    a candid no make-up shot from before the peel. look at the quality of my skin.

    lilizela mlilizela – mahlathini and the mahotella queens
    dance me to the end of love – madeleine peyroux
    collide – rachael yamagata (off her EP) love, love, love this woman!
    wicked little girls – esthero
    cannot contain this – moloko
    ramalama (bang bang) – roisin murphy
    Die Gedanken Sind Frei (Thoughts Are Free) – brazilian girls
    bitter – meshelll ndegeocello
    history repeating – propellerheads with shirley bassey
    montserrat – bajofondo tango club
    don’t forget to breathe – bitter:sweet
    stiff jazz – dzihan & kamien
    flawless (shapeshifter’s remix) – george michael
    the novel sound – llorca
    all is full of love – bjork
    big in japan – tom waits
    know how – kings of convenience
    pink moon- nick drake
    the rain don’t last forever – hope shorter ( http://www.myspace.com/HearHope
    now this is what i'm left with, 3 weeks post peel

    3 weeks post peel

    sass-9-mnths-post-laser

    9 months post peel. still hyper-pigmented.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    sass-9mnths-post-laser2

    9 months later. faint, but still signs of zorro mask and striations.

    it might not seem so bad, but though freckled, i used to have clear, creamy, smooth skin before the laser treatment. i was advised that the procedure would help the bags under my eyes which were becoming very prominent on the monitor at work. that was the main reason i did it. instead, i went through agony and wound up wounded and scarred. i think it can work really well on the right skin type, but i obviously was not a good candidate and i don’t think this treatment should have been done on me.

    so, if you’re  bi-racial or olive-skinned, PLEASE think twice. you really don’t want to  end up looking like this. and in case i didn’t make myself clear: JUST DON’T DO IT!

2 months later – reeling and dealing.

today - playing with ways to hide the scars...

today - playing with ways to hide the scars...

i’ve been on hiatus from shooting this week – the second of the 1-week breaks we get per year –  but unlike most of the rest of the cast and crew who have left town, flown to paris, or cape town or mozambique or some exotic locale, i have been right here in johannesburg, basically doing admin. and i’m almost anxious at the thought of getting back to the grind on monday. urgh!

the end of last week saw me with the start of a rather painful infection in my gum, so i was forced to stop procrastinating and get to the dentist – post haste. i had a fantastic dentist in l.a. – devoree prepsky in woodland hills. i would actually sometimes look forward to going to the dentist- fancy that! she could give an injection with the least amount of discomfort i’ve yet experienced from anyone wielding sharp implements in my mouth. i actually on occasion fell asleep in her chair!  so if you’re in l.a. and in need of superb dentistry, give her a call.

anyway, to get back off tangent – so this week entailed long days of what i can only call “dealing”. dealing with the many things i don’t usually get to when i’m in studio every day. all in all about 5 (torturous) hours at the dentist over 2 different days. printing and faxing forms to l.a., gathering tax forms for the local  accountant to get my taxes done so my american accountant can get those taxes done, taking the dogs to the vet for their recurring kennel cough, at least one extended lunch with shirley, one of my favorite people, taxiing the s.o. to and from work (on the other side of town!) while he waits for his car and yes, another check-up with dr CENSORED to assess how my face is recovering.

it’s 2 months today since my laser peel and i still cannot go out without make-up and 50 spf sunblock. the irony is that the hydro-quinone-aqueous cream solution he prescribed, is generally lightening my face, but the tic-tac-toe striations from the hyper-pigmentation refuse to budge. ok, to be honest, they’re sloooooowly fading, but they’re still very much there and still visible even with make-up on.

i can’t say i was too happy about the half hour i was kept waiting beyond my appointment time, but at least this time round, he finally said that he would “fix it”. at last an acknowledgement that there is a problem. i don’t get being made to wait in doctor’s rooms – why is my time any the less important, or costly, than theirs? maybe i should bill them for making me wait…

anyway, the idea is that after i’ve run my 10k next week, i will go in for (i think he called it) fractal-laser treatment which supposedly will lift the hyper-pigmentation. i’m a little apprehensive to have the laser near my face again, but i’m desperate to be able to go without make-up once again.

wish me luck folks.

today - playing with ways to hide the scars...

today - playing with ways to hide the scars...

laser peel recovery- 7 weeks later

it’s exactly 7 weeks today since i had my laser peel.

ironically, while i was looking at the pix i’ve taken to document this process and thinking about writing this post, i got a call from the office where i had it done to schedule a check-up appointment.

2 days ago i had just gotten into my car and turned on the radio, when i heard them talking about skin procedures and giving out the number for CENSORED. unfortunately, the program was just ending or i must admit, i would have called up and given them my for-inflation-adjusted-2-cents!

a few weeks ago i bumped into wealthy social butterfly, CENSORED while doing the scheb shlep at the “you spectacular”and we had a quick talk about our different experiences. she says she had nothing but positive results.

i cannot say i share her views. i’m exceedingly unhappy with the experience i went through, and the more time passes, the more so. i’m still extremely scarred, my formerly smooth (and taken for granted) skin is still striated and hyper-pigmented and i dare not venture out into the sun without 50spf sunblock and thick foundation – i, who used to not wear foundation except when filming. i use hydroquinone like religion every night and i suppose the lines are fading slowly, but almost 2 months later i should be radiant and flaunting my fantastic results. instead i cannot go without make-up (more like camouflage) and on the rare occasions when i have gone out in public with a naked face, i’ve had to not mind people’s questioning looks or my friends’ horrified exclamations. i cannot resume my running on the track without looking like a weird michael jackson wannabe in pseudo burka as i have to pull my buff all the way up over my face to protect it against the sun.

it’s  been hell and i certainly would not recommend it. really. i’m sure you’ll get glowing reviews from other people, but not from me. consumer, beware. there is a reason they make you sign that waiver form.

a candid no make-up shot from before the peel. look at the quality of my skin.

a candid shot pre-peel

now this is what i'm left with, 3 weeks post peel

+- 1 month post peel

today - sept 25 - 7 weeks post peel

laser peel recovery update

today it’s been exactly 3 weeks since i had my periorbital resurfacing and laser peel. i’ve waited for time to pass before making any pronouncements about the merits or demerits of the procedure, but as the days go by i’ve come closer to forming an opinion and today i can truly say, i’m pissed!

i’m startled every time i see myself in a mirror when i’m not wearing make-up. my face is hyper-pigmented and marked with dark striations so that it looks like i’ve flown face-first into a grid. when i’m wearing make-up, it’s ok, but i, who am used to going without foundation whenever i’m not working, now do not dare leave the house without what is essentially a mask to hide what feels like disfigurement. i’m beginning to feel really angry and resentful at the doctor who did this. this is not what i expected. it’s not what i signed up for (though i suppose in a way i did. there’s a good reason they get you to sign a waiver before the procedure).

i’ve had the odd spot of hyperpigmentation when i’ve done tca peels before, but this looks like i’ve had lines tattooed all over my face! i’m not against tattoos, but i’m not maori and i wouldn’t choose to mark my face. i mean, my face, and keeping my skin in good condition, is a huge part of how i earn my living!  if you think i’m exaggerating, here are both a before, and an after pic. you tell me if you’d spend a fortune to go from what i looked like before, to what i look like now.

a candid no make-up shot from before the peel. look at the quality of my skin.

a candid no make-up shot from before the peel. look at the quality of my skin.

now this is what i'm left with, 3 weeks post peel

now this is what i'm left with 3 weeks post peel

when i went to see the doctor on friday, he said it looked “fine”, it would go away.  then he gave me a prescription for hydroquinone. when i asked why one side extends so much farther than the other, below my chin, he paused for a moment, then said, i suppose meant facetiously, “because i can’t measure!”. excuse me?!

i’m prepared to give the recovery a little while longer, but right now, i certainly wouldn’t recommend this. maybe i’m being impatient, but i feel  angry and resentful and pretty damned stupid too boot, especially when i’m so ambivalent about whether one ages gracefully or “rages against the dying…”. however, even in my ambivalent inconsistency, i’d say, if one is going to opt for some kind of expensive procedure, it should really be an enhancement, not leave one scarred and disfigured. and i’m certainly feeling scarred – in more ways than one.

on the surface of things – things to consider before a laser peel

in the not always amusing soap-opera-tragicomedy that is my life, i get home last night, decide to be my own jewish mama and make myself some chicken soup to help get over this respiratory infection. i throw in whatever ingredients i can find, including a chili from which i’m careful to remove the seeds. 

then i decide to remove my contact lenses.

AAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH! 

it was obviously not just my skin which got damaged this past week – my brain must have sustained some damage as well! this morning i eventually have to throw the lenses out after several attempts to clean them fail (which i of course only discover each time i try to put them in my eyes!)

i try to have an early night, but the moon is full and my dog, chai will not stop barking. in the early hours of the morning i finally get up and muzzle him so i can get some sleep.

anyway, it feels like i’m finally surfacing from 10 different layers of hell. 

it’s obvious to me that there’s a reason why shows like dr 90210 are edited the way they are. they show you a little before, during, immediately after and then 6 weeks or so later when the patient has had ample time to recover and forget about the painful aftermath of whatever procedure they’ve undergone.

one week later, it’s still way too soon for me to say whether this process was worth it. right now i definitely look worse than before. besides the very raw looking reddish-pink around my eyes, my normally fairly smooth skin-tone is blotchy, hyper-pigmented and criss-crossed with hash marks. my eye-lids are still swollen and my fore-head under the lights looks serrated and my profile looks curiously wide and flat. even though i normally don’t wear foundation unless for work, there is no way that i can walk around like this. most people at work have only seen me once my make-up’s been done and one of them said, “what’s the big deal?” this morning he sees me on my way into the make-up room and all he can do is say, “shit!”, shake his head and say it again, “SHIT!”.

for now, based on my experience, here’s what i can advise anyone else thinking of getting a micro-laser peel or periorbital laser resurfacing:

  • 1. be absolutely certain you know what you’re letting yourself in for.
  • 2. ask as many questions as you can think of.
  • 3. be prepared for anything.
  • 4. a laser peel is different from a tca peel. it’s deeper, and takes more recovery time.
  • 5. it’s going to hurt more than you think it will.
  • 6. you’ll get over it…
  • 7. … if you give yourself enough time to recover. i’d suggest at least a full week.
  • 8. if your job, as does mine, entails being under studio lights, know that every little irregularity will be magnified. give yourself twice as much recovery time.
  • 9. have someone who can drive you to and from the procedure, to post-op visits, pick up prescriptions and just generally take care of you.
  • 10. do not do this procedure unless you’re 100% healthy. the recovery places huge stress on your immune system, so make sure it’s entirely up to par.
  • 11. don’t pick! do not touch your face unless it’s absolutely necessary and then only as little as possible.
  • 12. did i mention it before? DO NOT PICK  AT YOUR FACE! if you do, you will regret it.
  • 2 MONTHS POST-PEEL, EDITED TO INCLUDE: 13.  if you’re bi-racial, or have an olive skin-tone, think seriously before doing this procedure and ask your doctor if it’s advisable. i’m beginning to think it’s not.
in make up 1 week after periorbital resurfacing

in make up 1 week after periorbital resurfacing

 

by next week when the swelling has gone down totally, when i’m over my respiratory infection and hopefully when my skin-tone evens out,  i might have a better idea about how i feel about this. 

for now i’ll hold off judgement on whether i think it was worth it.

what was that saying about beauty being skin-deep?