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

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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.

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!

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?

pity party

ok. at this point i’m feeling very sorry for myself.

before i went to bed last night, i gargled with warm salt-water, i cooked with as much garlic as i could stand, echinacea’ed as much as i could, went to bed by 9 and slept for at least 10 hours.

woke up feeling miserable. throat full of razor-blades, lungs on fire and full of gunk, lymph nodes painfully swollen, my face feeling as tight as that character from the movie “brazil”, though thankfully no longer raw.

no kidding - it feels like that.

angi puts on my make-up and my skin feels thick, my face a bit more swollen than yesterday. it feels like she’s applying my make up through cardboard. i see some hyper-pigmentation forming along my jawline. i have a lot more thoughts about his micro-laser-peel, but more about that at another time.

i rush back over to the work doctor before my first scene and she diagnoses me with pharyngitis – an upper respiratory infection. my system seems to be in shock. i get another script for antibiotics. i foresee more gymnastics for my credit card, but at this point i’ll do anything to feel better. 

oh, and i have a magazine photo shoot this afternoon as soon as i finish shooting my scenes for the day. yeah. right.

oh woe is me.

back to work

day 6 since my micro-laser peel. yesterday i leave on the bismuth subgallate all day. i take the pulmison (south african version of prednisone) yesterday morning, last night and again this morning. when i wake at around 4a.m. after nearly passing out on a combo of  dormicum to sleep and  cough syrup which i’ve taken to ease my burning lungs, i can see that the swelling has gone down considerably. 

 

after my shower. the area under my eyes starts drawing really tight and i reapply some vaseline.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 i wait till i get to work, before i wash off the rest of the yellow powder and vaseline. everything looks much better, but there’s still a certain amount of crustiness. i’m feeling extremely shaky and my lungs seem to be sand-papered.

 

 

 

 

 

angi works wonders on my face. she sprays opsite around my eyes to protect against infection and then very carefully applies my make-up. there’s still a certain amount of crustiness, but it’s well disguised. i’m still somewhat moon-faced, but it’s so much better than i could have hoped.

 

 

 

 

i look different, somehow, but not that bad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

it actually doesn’t look bad on screen. fortunately my scenes aren’t that long and my character is supposed to be getting ill. the problem is that my throat is starting to hurt like hell, i’m starting to hack, my lungs feel scorched and i’m feverish. for real.

i think it’s taken my last reserves to heal from this infection and the flu which never quite went away, is back with a vengeance. 

now i’m in the green room waiting for my next scenes – i’m trying to dose myself to the gills with degoran, echinacea and vitamin c to boost my immune system. 

“this too shall pass, ” i keep telling myself. i’m so tired of being sick. i set the intention that my body may heal. now i wait.

what was i thinking?!

i wake up this morning – 5 days after my micro-laser peel and periorbital resurfacing – and as i’m washing off the antiseptic powder around my eyes, i realize that putting make-up on today would be insanity. the swelling has gone down considerably, though i’m still moon-faced, looking like i’m wearing a polynesian mask and  the orbital area is still crusty. being in the raw takes on a whole new meaning!

i call CENSORED only to discover that he wanted me to keep the powder in place. i don’t think he has any idea of the fact that even the tiniest blemish shows up 1000 times magnified under the studio lights.

i call magda, the production manager. it really sucks because i know how disruptive this is to the production schedule, but i think that it will be crazy for me to shoot today. after what happened saturday night, i realize that i run the risk of getting even further infected. magda’s not happy, but knows that this was unforeseen.

i feel so foolish.

i turn on the tv and leona lewis is singing, “it’ll all get better with time”.

i hope so – and sooner than later, because time is not on my side.

laser peel recovery – day IV & V

sunday morning i wake up with the area around my eyes scarily red and swollen. my fire-gig make-up from last night, was definitely NOT a good idea. the skin around my eyes also seems to have been chafed off by the goggles.

i’m scared.

the painkillers don’t seem to make much of a difference – i’m beginning to understand how people get hooked on pain medication.

i follow the printed instructions i’ve been given and put on some sun-block which promptly gets in my eyes, making them tear and swell up even more. mid morning i decide to try some ice-packs on my face, but when i remove them, the skin around my eyes comes off with the cloth.

@#$%^!

i take more painkillers. my eyes will not stop tearing and the whole area seems to get more and more swollen. i’m beginning to be really scared that the edema won’t subside in time for work on tuesday. lasz gets some take out so that i don’t have to worry about cooking.

i take 2 synapforte every 3 to 4 hours. in the afternoon i chase it with a stiff whisky. nothing helps to alleviate the pain and extreme discomfort.

monday morning i wake up to this:

i call dr. CENSORED and he tells me to come see him. next i call the production manager at work to give her a heads up. lasz has been taking as much care of me as he can. he drives me to CENSORED while i hold a scarf draped over my head, both for sun-protection and to spare passers-by the sight of my, to me, scary looking face. i look like i’ve taken some heavy punches and then rasped with a grater. i feel like i’m in purdah. i look like husband-killer, najwa petersen.

Najwa Petersen

at the clinic, i’m bustled through the waiting room and into a back-room, before the owner, CENSORED, settles me in the doctor’s office. i’m sure i’m not a good advertisement for the clinic at this particular moment. dr. CENSORED is booked up so i wait while he finishes his appointment. i’m sure he’s as surprised as i am at the state of my face, but we both agree that the fire-dancing gig might not have been a good idea. he gives me some more of the antiseptic yellow powder (bismuth subgallate) to put around my eyes and give me another script for pulmison (the south african version of prednisone), which  will help to bring down the swelling. he seems to think i’ll be okay to shoot tomorrow, though i have to say i’m not feeling as optimistic.

i leave the office and people stare as i walk holding my scarf so that my face is entirely covered. i feel like michael jackson. Michaeljacsonabaya

hey, it’s thriller-time!thriller.jpg

i speak to the production manager and she rearranges the schedule so that my call time is a few hours later tomorrow. the make-up department will have their hands full. my face is still exceedingly swollen and it feels like someone has grabbed hold of the area around my eyes with some heavy-duty sand-paper and will not let go.

in the bathroom at the gig saturday night, i have an interesting conversation with a woman who gasps when she sees my raw face as i take off my make-up.

“why didn’t you just say no?”, she says when i explain that i’ve had a laser peel and that i have the flu, but i performed in any case.

“but i gave my word,” i reply.

“yes, but you could have pulled out even in the last 5 minutes,” she says.

“but i gave my word, ” i reply to her bemused expression.

as she leaves, she commends me for being so  much more a woman of my word than she’d ever be. it’s my turn to be bemused. surely honoring one’s word is the norm, or at least should be. i at least always try to do what i say i will – you  know, walking one’s talk.

yes, i might not have all these complications with my healing, but actually having my word be my bond, is more important to me.

anyway, as everyone keeps saying, “let’s hope it’s worth it!”.

i’ll keep you posted folks!

right now i’d just like to look like myself again.

sass

sass