Charlotte Hannah
December 20, 2012

Woman Undergoes Experimental Beauty Treatment, Grows Bones in Her Eyelid

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A few years ago, a Los Angeles woman (who shall not be named for reasons you’ll soon understand) began experiencing some strange symptoms.

First, she couldn’t open her right eye without considerable pain. Second, every time she did manage to open her eye, she heard a clicking sound, which she described as being similar to the sound of a “tiny castanet snapping shut.”

Eventually, the woman ended up in the office of cosmetic surgeon Allan Wu, who noted her eyelid was droopy and the area around her eye was swollen. Soon, Wu determined the woman’s symptoms had begun several months earlier, after she’d undergone an experimental, non-FDA-approved facelift. The procedure, which cost over $20,000, used the woman’s own stem cells, allegedly because the cells would “turn into brand-new tissue and release chemicals that help heal aging cells and stimulate nearby cells to proliferate.”

Wu also quickly discovered the cause of the woman’s mysterious symptoms.

(Pause for effect)

She was growing tiny bone fragments in her eyelid.

Excuse me, please. I just need to take a moment to process this.

Okay, back.

Scientific American reports the experimental procedure was carried out as follows:

  • 1. Plastic surgeons sucked out some of the woman’s abdominal fat and extracted mesenchymal stem cells from it. For the record, this type of stem cell can turn into everything from bone to cartilage to fat.
  • 2. The surgeons injected the stem cells back into her face, concentrating on the area around the eyes.
  • 3. The surgeons then injected dermal filler into the woman’s face to fill in wrinkles. Dermal filler, by the way, is mainly composed of calcium hydroxylapatite, a mineral that is often used by cell biologists to encourage mesenchymal stem cells to turn into bone.
  • 4. The woman grew tiny castanets made of bone in her freaking eyelid.

I think there’s a lesson to be learned here. In fact, there are probably a couple of lessons we can take away from this. When we’re done twitching uncontrollably, that is.

First, if possible, try to avoid getting experimental medical procedures that haven’t been tested or approved by the FDA. Sure, it’s possible you’ll get the promised results, or at least a cool superpower. But you also might end up with bones in your eyelids. Think about that.

Second, don’t be willing to believe in the efficacy of some sketchy “medical procedure” just because some authority figure uses five-dollar words to tell you about it. Just because a person in a white coat claims a procedure will “rejuvenate your skin,” doesn’t mean it can magically take 20 years off your appearance in just a few hours. In fact, it apparently doesn’t even mean the procedure won’t just juvenate some bones into your eyelids.

And finally,


That’s it. I’m going home.