Patient Perspective: The Pains of an Unsuccessful BOTOX Procedure

I had received BOTOX injections between my eyebrows for the frown line 5 times (every 3-4 months). I was aware that BOTOX is new enough that there's not a lot of empirical research information.

However, I didn't think it was too risky - especially since it gave the much desired results! Every time, I had read and signed the consent form which informed of the risks. I thought it would never happen to me! (Famous last words.)

Preparing for the Holidays

Well, I was preparing for a very special Christmas with all my kids, kids-in-laws, and my 4 precious grandchildren. We were planning a 3-day stay in a lodge in the mountains and to have professional pictures of everybody since we are only all together less than once per year. It was also the first time to see one of our precious granddaughters. We also had a family "talent show" planned with extended family members.

I got the injections on 12/8 and by 12/12 my right eyelid was drooping much like I had had a stroke. I was very concerned and called the doctor's office. They said that this happens so rarely! The (only) four ladies who had this happen in that office had it "all cleared up by 7-10 days - 2 weeks at the very longest." That was pushing it as my kids from Alaska were arriving on 12/23. I woke up every morning thinking that I would see improvement - but I didn't.

I set time limits in my mind that "surely this will be better by Sunday" or "by the time they arrive" or "by the time we get our pictures done" or "before the talent show." But every time limit came and went with seemingly no improvement. Every night I went to bed, hoping, praying, that it would miraculously be all better by morning. Every day, I woke up so depressed.

Before I ever looked in the mirror, I could tell by the feeling, as well as the vision, that it was still the same. I did not deal well with this experience at all. I actually wore sunglasses to church one Sunday because I was so embarrassed! I know that the sunglasses drew attention to me, but if people were going to look at me, I would rather them see my sunglasses than my "stupid-looking" droopy eye.

I didn't make it a habit to tell people that I was getting BOTOX injections as it is generally associated with vanity - yet I was being so vain about the drooping eyelid that I wanted to hide in my house. I had spent $275 for this?

The After Effects

Today is 2/10. I still have a slightly droopy eyelid - especially by the end of the day when I'm tired. I don't think that BOTOX is anymore dangerous now than I thought it was before this happened - I just know that it's not worth the risk.

I know that I didn't handle this blow well at all - even though my family members were all very understanding and comforting. I can't imagine what it might be like for someone who doesn't have the strong, encouraging support system that I had.

I was never angry at the doctor - I don't think he did anything different on that day, or anything necessarily wrong. The only thing that I was frustrated about (and I did call them several times just to inform them of the outcome) was that they told me very clearly, very emphatically, in the beginning "two weeks at the most!"

I know that they felt horrible for the mishap. They knew I was devastated as I cried in the office. They knew this was the worst timing for something like this to happen. And they wanted to make me feel better - but their false hopes made me feel worse.

I think if they would have told me from the very beginning, "We are so sorry this has happened. It truly is a rare thing. We don't know for sure how long the results will last. It may be as short as 7 days. It may be as long as the effects of the BOTOX in your frown line," at least I would not have woken up every day hoping to see improvement.

The improvement is so gradual that it's difficult to say when it was truly significant. Like I said, I still have some of the effects of the droopiness.

I know that I won't ever get BOTOX injections again. Not necessarily because there is that risk, but because I see how devastating it was to me. I don't ever want to go through that again. I think I will invest in some of that expensive cream that is said to be "better than BOTOX." It certainly is cheaper!