Writing for Fox News, Janice Dean bares her heart and soul in a story about how vanity led her “under the knife” to correct the “bad relationship” she had with her neck since she was a child.
“There are weird lines around it like a tree trunk -– they’ve been there since I was a baby,” she writes.
She fully admits using Botox on her forehead and between her eyebrows because “its an easy way to smooth out the creases with no downtime" but always wanted to do something about her neck.
One day her doctor suggested a fairly new procedure called “fractora” which is a cosmetic surgical procedure done in the office that regenerates natural collagen and tightens old skin in less an hour. The downtime after the surgery is only about five days and the treatment lasts about five years.
Her two young sons had a school break coming up and she was planning to take some time off anyway to be with them. It would be the perfect time.
“I started to imagine myself in V-neck dresses without feeling like I should be gobbling to Thanksgiving dinner," Dean writes.
Her husband wasn’t thrilled. He didn’t like the idea of surgery or injecting anything into her face but she convinced him it was all safe and she’d be up an about in no time.
He agreed and she scheduled the process, careful to keep it all quiet. Being a high-profile weatherwoman on a major cable outlet, she would have to wear scarves or turtlenecks for a few days but it was worth it if she could have a “new and improved neck like a swan.”
She had the procedure done and her husband picked her up afterward. He didn't say anything at the time but he thought she looked terrible – especially the left side of her face.
Coming home with her head and neck bandaged frightened her children who thought she looked like a Q-tip. She reassured them, "Everything's fine. I just had to go to the doctor for a little thing with my neck. This bandage will be off tomorrow and I’ll be fine. But for now mama has to lie down.”
When she removes the bandages the next day, the left side of her face is still swollen so much that could barely talk out of that side of her mouth or chew properly.
“My bottom lip had looked like it had vanished. My smile was lopsided. I started looking stuff up on the internet. Yikes! Close the computer.”
She decided to look at the sheets that she had initialed before the procedure – the ones she never read before signing – and noticed the fourth item on the list of possible side-effects: “Nerve injury, marginal mandibular nerve palsy, inability to depress lower lip, temporary change in smile or facial expression.”
This is what she was experiencing!
“I was suddenly mad at myself. Why didn’t I read the fine print? Why did I just gloss over these many side effects without asking questions? How many times do we glance through pages of paperwork without fully reading it and nonchalantly sign on the dotted line? This was on me.”
She went back to the doctor with her husband who was very angry. Their first question was, will her face be restored to normal? The doctors said “yes, 100 percent.” How long will it take?
“Well, we’re not sure. But a few weeks. We can fix it a bit with Botox. You can probably mask it with makeup.”
As for her impaired speech and lopsided smile – vital qualities for a woman whose weather reports are seen by millions – she was told that they will resolve themselves "eventually.”
How many patients experience this kind of side effect? About one to two percent, they were told.
“Wow. I wish I was that lucky when it came to playing the lottery,” Dean writes.
“If I could choose between having a smooth neck or getting my smile back to normal, there is no question. My smile means everything to me,” Dean says. “They say the eyes are the window to the soul. I disagree. My smile is my window.”
She was near tears now. “This is not what I signed up for. Darn it.”
The next week she returned to work but she couldn’t go on the air because her words weren’t coming out correctly.
“I wasn’t able to smile, laugh and deliver the weather with my Fox and Friends family,” she writes.
“At first I was embarrassed. Then sad about what I had done. And then shame. Why was I so vain to do this to myself?”
She started admitting what happened to her colleagues and friends and received a lot of support. She also began to hear stories form other people about complications with cosmetic procedures such as Kelly Ripa of WABC’s Live With Kelly who had a “bad Botox” experience that caused the left side of her face to remain frozen for months.
“It happens a lot more than we hear about,” Dean writes. “But we don’t talk about it because, well, we live in a society where we are all supposed to look healthy and beautiful and young ‘naturally’.”
She’s now on week nine of her ordeal and although she’s still not 100 percent, she’s improving.
“Here’s what I’ve learned: These new lasers, injections and cosmetic procedures that look as if they can turn back time? There’s a little more to it. There are risks.”
But more importantly, she realized something else – that we spend too much time focused on our flaws.
She recommends that instead of doing so, we spend more time “embracing the things that make us all shine.”
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