But by the Monday, my top lip had swollen to three times its usual size and had a huge pus-filled sore.
It looked like it was about to burst and it felt like it was going to explode!
When I sent the beautician more pictures, she told me to go straight to hospital.
In Emergency, I was so ashamed and embarrassed.
‘Don’t be,’ the nurse said. ‘But you really should check the person you’re getting it done with.’
It turned out the inexperienced beautician had injected into my artery, which had caused an infection. That had developed into a flesh-eating bug that was killing my upper lip.
My birthday treat was eating me alive!
‘And if the bug travels to your eyes, you’ll go blind,’ the doctor warned.
Hearing that, my heart sank.
My four beautiful children, I thought. What if I couldn’t see them getting married or graduate?
It just didn’t bear thinking about.
I was given a seven-day course of strong antibiotics, but I was still in agony.
It felt like somebody pouring a boiling kettle of water over my lip and gum.
I’ve given birth four times and I would rather do it again than feel this pain, I thought.
I couldn’t sleep, talk or eat.
All I could do was drink water through a straw.
For a month, I didn’t leave the house or go to work as I couldn’t bear to speak to anybody.
My son Bryce couldn’t even bear to look at me.
‘Mum, I’m physically going to be sick,’ he said, heaving at the sight of me.
I’d had the treatment to feel good about myself, but now I looked like a monster that was terrifying my kids.
My GP prescribed another course of antibiotics, and finally after a long two months, the scabbing started to heal.
I had the fillers taken out of my lips too, after a registered nurse who does beauty treatments offered to do it for free.
But my hellish ordeal has continued, as I have been left permanently scarred by the procedure.
Whenever I speak to anybody, I can see them looking at the scar on my lip.
There’s no feeling in it either.
I’m know I’m incredibly lucky as I’ve been told I could have lost my top lip.
For a long time, I beat myself up thinking ‘why did I do that?’
But it wasn’t my fault – the beautician wasn’t qualified or insured.
Now I’m taking legal action.
I’m also campaigning for tighter laws to be introduced to stop unregistered beauticians from selling filler treatments.
It’s scary that you can walk into anybody’s house and get these procedures done.
I would urge anyone to do their research and take time to find a reputable practitioner.
I’m reminded of that every time I look in the mirror. ●
There is no record of how many Australian or Kiwi women indulge in the treatment, due to it being an unregulated industry. According to the Cosmetic Physicians College of Australasia, lip filler has become one of the most popular procedures in recent years. One doctor even likened it to being as ‘common’ among women as picking up a new handbag or pair of shoes.
The Department of Health advises that injecting fillers is a medical procedure that can only be undertaken under the supervision of an authorised prescriber such as a medical doctor.
If the person who performs a cosmetic procedure lacks adequate qualifications, knowledge or experience, this can lead to significant adverse events.