Real Life: “Fillers nearly killed me!”

Real Life: “Fillers nearly killed me!”

09 Jun 2014

A popular beauty treatment left Hailey Terrell paralysed

When Hailey Terrell, originally from the US, opted for dermal fillers, she had no idea the beauty treatment might kill her. But soon after having the injections in her chin, she suffered eight strokes and a heart attack, even ‘dying’ when her heart stopped beating for 30 seconds. “I had no idea a filler injection could kill me,” the yoga instructor said. “When I went to have an injection there was a leaflet with all the side effects listed. But it’s just like the paper in a paracetamol box – I never thought it would actually happen to me.’” After suffering a terrifying series of strokes, a rare side-effect of filler injections, Hailey went into cardiac arrest and was put into a medically induced coma. Her battle with the reaction brought her to the brink of death, and doctors feared she might never breathe on her own again.


Hailey was studying for a master’s degree when she found a deal for dermal filler online. After researching the procedure thoroughly, she made an appointment to have the jab in her chin. “I’d had injections before with no issues and nothing about this practitioner seemed out of the ordinary,” she says. “She was qualified and registered nurse, so I thought that aspect was all I had to worry about.” But the day after the treatment, it was clear something was horribly wrong. “I took a bite of pita bread and struggled to swallow it,” says Hailey, 37. “I tried to tell my friend that I couldn’t swallow my food properly but the words weren’t coming out. Suddenly I had an awful lisp and it was still there the next day.”

Baffled by her symptoms, Hailey decided to seek medical help. “A friend told me I might have had a stroke,” she recalls. “I thought only old or overweight people had strokes, but I agreed I should get checked out.” Hailey was admitted to hospital but was sent home two days later with a prescription to treat a food allergy. “The next day I knew I couldn’t eat but I made myself a really good dish anyway. On my first bite I just kept chewing and chewing and it got stuck. I started choking and thought I was going to die. I made myself sick before going straight back to the emergency ward, but again no one realised I was having a stroke.”

Hailey’s symptoms became even more extreme, leaving her terrified of what might happen next. “By this point I couldn’t even swallow my own spit and I was drooling profusely. They gave me a wand to stick in my mouth which sucked out all the saliva. I had to type messages into my phone to ‘speak’ to the doctors. I had been back in hospital for three days and I was really scared. I pleaded for a nurse to stay and hold my hand through the night because I didn’t want to die behind the curtain. That’s the last thing I can remember.” 


The next day – one week after her initial hospital admission – Hailey went into cardiac arrest and suffered a final round of strokes. Her heart stopped for 30 seconds before doctors resuscitated her. Unable to breathe without help, she was placed in a medically induced coma and transferred to the intensive care unit at a specialist neurology hospital. By this stage, she was fighting for her life, and her parents flew straight over from America to be by her bedside. One week later, Hailey finally came to. “When I woke up the left side of my body didn’t work at all,” she says. “It took me a while to learn to walk again and I had to relearn to write too. For months I would be eating and the fork would just drop out of my hand.” After spending a month in hospital and relearning to walk, talk and write, Hailey made a dramatic recovery and even finished her Master’s degree. Two years on, she still struggles to concentrate but has found a new lease of life. “You would never know just by looking at me what happened,” she says. “I have a small scar on my neck and have problems focusing but I am now in the best place I have been.”

Hailey is using her experience to put others off cosmetic injections. “I give people a ‘face-lift massage’ as an alternative to injections and you can really see the difference,” she says. “I’m developing a business to teach people self-massage techniques for the face, among other natural remedies such as nutrition, meditation and ‘face yoga’. “Having a stroke and nearly dying for beauty is something I’m not willing to ever risk again. What happened to me just shows that the dangers are still there even if you go to a registered practitioner. I really hope my story inspires others to look for beauty in the only place it can truly be found – inside.”