Healthcheck: When facial fillers go wrong

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Facial fillers have become a big trend in the cosmetic industry, however some patients may be getting too much of a good thing. (WPVI)

Facial fillers have become a big trend in the cosmetic industry, used more than 2 million times in 2013 alone. However some patients may be getting too much of a good thing.

Artist Christine Kulper used to call Philadelphia home - that is until she fell in love on a trip to Europe.

Now, she and husband Valerio call Italy home.

However Kulper returned recently, after a trip to a doctor there to have fine lines smoothed on her upper lip, turned into a nightmare.

"When he started to inject it, it hurt tremendously," she said.

She was assured the pain would go away, but it didn't, and her whole mouth was swollen.

It made her teaching job miserable.

"I had to get up for work two hours early and put ice on it," said Kulper.

From Italy, she reached out to plastic surgeon Allan Wulc, who said he could dissolve it, if Kulper could get back to the states.

Weeks later, she was in his office to have the filler dissolved with an injectable enzyme.

Dr. Wulc says lately he sees problems related to facial fillers almost every day.

"I see it in three patients a week, three new patients a week with too much filler," said Dr. Wulc.

He says that he and other cosmetic doctors use injectable fillers like Juvederm and Restylane every day to restore youthful fullness and soften wrinkles and lines.

However sometimes, they are expected to do too much.

"If you do the filler, you're not going to need the surgery - and that's not the case," said Dr. Wulc.

He says when we age, our faces stretch and ligaments sag due to gravity. Injectables can't reverse that.

For years, Jennifer Marquess received injections above and below her eyes to lift a low-hanging brow and fill tired-looking under-eyes.

She looked better at first, but over time, her face changed.

Above her eyebrow, there was so much filler, pressing with a finger left an imprint plus she was having unexplained vision problems.

"There was a cobweb feeling in my eyes. There was an itchiness, blurriness, sometimes, it got to be extreme," said Marquess.

Dr. Wulc says fillers are expected to last six months to a year.

However in places, like the eyes, where muscles don't move much, they can last up to five years.

After three rounds of enzyme treatments, Marquess feels and looks different.

"I felt so happy to get my eyesight back. I was too happy to have a few wrinkles," said Marquess.

Dr. Wulc says Botox was initially overused, but that's happening less now and he thinks filler excesses will diminish over time.

To protect themselves, patients should make sure their doctor is board-certified in their procedure and ask themselves 'Are you happier with the way it looks?
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