This Woman's Nonsurgical Nose Job Went So Wrong, It Cut Off Blood Flow to Her Eye

Botched nose jobs can lead to many problems—a weirdly unnatural-looking nose chief among them.

But vision loss, too, is an unexpected side effect now associated with nose jobs, especially the noninvasive “liquid nose job” that's become increasingly popular. This procedure is sometimes called a nonsurgical nose job or a liquid rhinoplasty. (“Rhinoplasty” is the medical term for any cosmetic surgery on the nose.)

How does a liquid nose job work? A surgeon will inject fillers into a patient's nose to reshape it. “Minor tweaks are possible with nonsurgical rhinoplasty, such as filling in divits or depressed areas in the nose, lifting the angle of the tip and/or smoothing the appearance of a bump,” according to the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS).

Sounds straightforward—but not necessarily, especially if a doctor uses a filler called Radiesse, which contains calcium hydroxyapatite. AAFPRS says the use of Radiesse during a liquid nose job is controversial because “many surgeons believe using calcium hydroxyapatite in the nose can cause calcifications.”

A new case report from JAMA Ophthalmology calls out another health risk. The report links the use of a calcium hydroxyapatite filler during a liquid nose job to “excruciating left eye pain” and sudden loss of vision.

The patient featured in the report was in her early 40s when she underwent the procedure. Her doctor injected the filler, which contained calcium hydroxyapatite, into her face. The filler quickly blocked the supply of blood to a layer of the eye known as the choroid, leading to partial blindness and the intense pain. 

The patient was immediately treated with sildenafil citrate (aka, Viagra, which increases blood flow within the body). She was also given corticosteroids to reduce inflammation, as well as medicine to lower the blood pressure in her eye. Unfortunately, none of these remedies resolved the patient’s symptoms.

While a liquid nose job caused bodily harm for this patient, the procedure itself isn’t considered hazardous if the right filler is used. Other dermal fillers that aren't as controversial include Juvederm, Belotero, and Restylane, according to AAFPRS.

If you’re considering getting a liquid nose job, ask your surgeon what kind of filler they’re planning to use. And make sure the surgeon has lots of experience with nose jobs, plus the right medical credentials that show they're qualified.

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