When Ms. N came to Dr. John Hogan’s office last August, it had been nearly three months since she had felt like herself. Previously completely healthy, the 25-year-old woman had been plagued by shaking chills, fevers, and unremitting fatigue, barely able to drag herself to her job in a Boston-area accounting office. Most troubling, though, was the thin yellow fluid draining from her thighs and the undersides of her breasts. Little did she know this was the beginning of a life-changing saga.
Ms. N’s symptoms had started a little over two weeks after she underwent an operation in the Dominican Republic last May. The cosmetic surgery – known colloquially as a Brazilian butt lift – had entailed sucking fat out of the belly and low back, then injecting it into the buttocks and thighs. She also underwent breast augmentation.
The clinic had looked pristine, Ms. N later relayed. She received a weeklong course of antibiotic pills after the operation, and the surgical wounds seemed to be healing well. As instructed by the doctor, she kept the incisions clean, and didn’t swim or use hot tubs.
Just a few days after she returned to her home near Boston, she started draining the fluid from her breasts and thighs.
“My first day back at work, I noticed my shirt felt wet,” Ms. N said in an interview with STAT. “I looked in my bra and saw this thin liquid.” Some days, the towels she stuffed into her bra to absorb the fluid became soaked within an hour or two.
Around this same time, Ms. N noted large bruises on her legs; these became red and excruciatingly painful, sometimes opening up at night and releasing the same thin fluid.
“It stung like something was trying to push through my skin,” she said. “Sometimes I’d wake up soaked in the fluid.”
She’d become extremely fatigued — falling asleep at 5 p.m. some days — and was spiking fevers. She was also losing weight without trying to.