11 August Tweakment of the Month
It’s #tweakmentofthemonth time and we thought we would showcase Stevie’s incredible transformation due to us being nominated for the ‘Best Non-Surgical Make-Over of the Year’ at this years My Face My Body Awards. This non-surgical make-over was were the doctors at River Aesthetics corrected the profound facial asymmetry of a tumour patient, non-surgically, using collagen stimulating treatments.
An acoustic neuroma is a non-cancerous and usually slow-growing tumour that develops on the main (vestibular) nerve leading from the inner ear to the brain. Branches of this nerve directly influence balance and hearing, and pressure from an acoustic neuroma can cause hearing loss, ringing in the ear, sleep apnoea and lack of co-ordination.
For Stevie Jenkins, the first sign of her acoustic neuroma occurred when she awoke one morning, nine years ago and was deaf in one ear. Initially thinking it was likely to be an infection, she visited her doctor, who monitored her condition, and over the space of around a year, and multiple tests, Stevie was formally diagnosed and given regular, annual brain scans. At the time, Stevie lived with her husband, and they both undertook volunteer work with underprivileged women in Thailand.
Three years after her diagnosis, in 2012, Stevie woke one morning and on getting out of bed fell over. She felt drunk. Her most recent brain scan had only taken place around eight months previously, however during this time Stevie’s tumour had grown significantly, wrapping itself around her facial nerve. Her balance was severely affected, and the decision was taken to operate. Surgery lasted 15 hours. Much of the tumour was removed but Stevie was left with facial paralysis of around 60% initially, which reduced to a more ‘acceptable‘ 35% after 2 years of facial exercises and massage. Stevie said she looked like she had had a major stroke. Stevie was keen to reduce the effects her facial paralysis had on her appearance. Muscle relaxing injections with botulinum toxin helped a little, as did facial exercises, and slowly she began to see small improvements.
In 2015, Stevie’s husband was taken ill in Thailand and she nursed him tirelessly until he passed away, losing three stone in the process. Shortly after this she returned to England to try and re-build her life. The stress and weight loss took their toll on Stevie’s appearance and she felt as though her face had “collapsed”.
Following her bereavement, Stevie was keen that people did not feel sorry for her. She freely admits that life has thrown a lot at her, but she knew she could deal with it. She joined an online support group, which she now runs, called “Acoustic Neuroma Tumour Survivors” (ANTS for short) which encourages members to discuss anything regarding their tumour and dealing with issues related to surgery.
“I write blogs for the group – one of my best received pieces has been about grief. Not the grief of a passed love one, but a grief many people with acoustic neuroma feel about the loss of the person we once were. It can take time to get used to what the condition has done to your appearance – our new normal. There are members of the group who are almost agoraphobic and I think it’s important to discuss how we feel and to share our experiences, not only of the condition but even more importantly steps we have taken which may be life enhancing.
I’ve always been keen to present a good image of myself. I am keen to look my best self, and for me, I want to look ordinary, like everyone else. I have recently met at new man, and felt very strongly that when people meet us as a couple that others don’t feel sorry for me, or think ‘what is he doing with her?’ I was recommended to visit a doctor-led aesthetics practice called River Aesthetics who recommenced treatment to reduce the asymmetry of my face. This took around an hour and a half, and the results were great immediately and actually got better over the next few weeks.”
The Treatment Process:
Stevie’s treating doctors, Dr Victoria Manning and Dr Charlotte Woodward of River Aesthetics explained: “When we first met Stevie and hearing her story we felt we had to help her and make a difference to her life. What we loved about her was her completely positive can-do attitude and the way she used her experience to help others. However, caring for her husband with terminal cancer and having had an acoustic neuroma herself had taken quite a toll on her. She was left with a facial palsy and subsequent asymmetry which she found extremely embarrassing. She came to us initially not for a cosmetic enhancement but for a treatment to make her look and feel ‘normal’. She has a new partner and she wanted to look the best she could.
“At rest she had marked asymmetry on the left side, with loss of volume and a general ptosis of the midface. The asymmetry was heightened on animation. She had had a previous blepharoplasty to try and help the hooding that she had but she said when tired she developed a ptosis that affected her vision. She also had a deep scar on her chin from having her head clamped in a brace through the extensive surgery.
“As this was a complex case, a multi-disciplinary case meeting was held to discuss potential treatment plans, to ensure the best outcomes were achieved for her. We opted to correct her profound asymmetry using Ellansé – which is a unique collagen stimulating dermal filler – and tried to balance Stevie’s face both at rest and in animation.
“For life changing treatments like these, our ethos is to develop the effects and improvements over time so a phased approach is often adopted in our practice. Interestingly Stevie felt that her left eye felt supported straight after treatment.
“At her three-month review we tweaked the jawline, jowls and marionettes with some more Ellanse treatment and then inserted Silhouette Soft thread lifts in her left brow to support the lateral aspect of her left eye.”
Stevie concludes, “Since treatment to correct my facial palsy my confidence has built steadily. I met my new man’s friends for the first time recently and was so pleased to feel I looked normal. I am now ready to face the world feeling good about myself. People have even commented that I look glamorous which has really boosted me further. I am buying brighter coloured clothes and am more sociable and happier to meet new people.
“I’m keen to increase awareness about the treatment options for people with acoustic neuroma. There is no need for them to hide away because they don’t want others to see them. I did have the option of major surgery to correct some of my concerns but results can take years, and I know that some suffer with horrendous scarring. I am so pleased there was a non-surgical option, that is so life enhancing for me.”
So what treatment was used to drastically change Stevie’s appearance AND life?
The two non-surgical treatments used in Stevie’s treatment come from the Sinclair Pharma portfolio – Ellansé and Silhouette Soft thread lift treatment.
Ellansé is the first dermal filler which provides both instant and gradual results; increased volume occurs immediately post-treatment, however volumisation continues to develop for up to four months as the initial carrier gel is absorbed by the body, but not before microscopic spheres suspended in the gel have stimulated the body to create its own healing collagen. The results can last for up to four years. You can find out more about ellansé here.
Silhouette Soft Thread Lift:
Silhouette Soft threads initiate a unique two-stage process – an immediate skin lift and then gradual collagen regeneration. Think of it as the creation of scaffolding for drooping areas of the face. The threads, which are dotted with a series of tiny cones along their length, are introduced just under the top layer of the skin. The cones are bi-directional which secures the threads in place in the subcutaneous layer and allows them to be pulled in two directions to lift the skin. The threads and cones are made from polylactic acid which is the same material as dissolvable stitches and in the ensuing three months before they are absorbed by the body they bring about the process of collagenesis. This is the method the body uses to repair a damaged area – in this case created by the agitation of the cones. This brings about a biological lift, where the skin becomes firmer and tighter as a result of the augmentation from newly laid down collagen underneath the surface to fill it out naturally. You can find out more about silhouette thread lift treatments here.
Facial Palsy affect tens of thousands of individuals in the UK each year. Most make a full recovery within 2-3 months, however approximately 20% of those affected with the condition do not. A significant proportion of cases are only aware of surgical options to address their concerns. If you know somebody who is affected by facial palsy then why not make them aware of this life-changing non-surgical treatment to bring back their confidence?
Stevie’s story has recently appeared in the health sections of the Daily Mail and also Chat magazine. As a result of this publicity over 20 patients with palsy’s have approached the team at River Aesthetics, who have treated many of these new cases on a pro bono basis. You can view the article here:
To book a consultation with one of our expert doctors call 01202 024060 to book now. Also, as we have been nominated at the My Face My Body Awards for the ‘Best Non-Surgical Make-Over’ we would appreciate any votes. You can vote for us here.