Clare Clark said she was impressed when she was searching through Facebook and spotted a special deal by a beautician, offering a teeth whitening treatment at home.
The 42-year-old woman, from Bristol, had previously paid between $280 and $370 to have her teeth whitened, but when she discovered the service, she realised she wouldn’t have to organise childcare for her sons.
She said she had thought it would be foolish not to take advantage of the online offer.
“The beautician carrying out the treatment was offering at-home visits, which was a huge draw. It would mean I wouldn’t have to worry about the boys,” she said.
She quickly booked in for an appointment in January, but was horrified the next morning after she woke to find her lips had ballooned in size.
Clare, who works as a manager at a local university, said her top lip was so swollen, and her mouth so blistered, that she could barely talk or eat.
“When I woke up, I could just feel something was wrong,” she said.
“I couldn’t even look in a mirror at first, then I caught sight of myself in a window and thought, ‘Oh my God’.”
Clare said she looked as if she’d had “botched lip fillers”.
“I was so embarrassed and didn’t want anybody to see me — but I wasn’t technically sick and so still had to go to work,” she said.
Clare first had her teeth whitened by a dentist, in early 2006, and again by a beautician in a salon about five years ago.
She claimed the process each time was fairly similar.
“You’d go, get a mouth guard to fit your teeth and hold the gel, then a specialised light was shone on to activate the gel,” she said.
On both occasions, Clare said she never suffered any adverse health effects.
So, when she saw the $112 treatment offered on Facebook, she felt pretty confident it would all go smoothly.
“Teeth are such a big part of your face that it’s easy to get self-conscious about them, and we could all do with a slightly whiter smile,” she said.
“I thought $112 was a really good deal, especially given how expensive teeth whitening can be.
During her appointment in February, the beautician gave Clare a mouth guard filled with whitening gel, just like with previous sessions.
But, towards the end of the 60-minute treatment, Clare said she began to worry that the guard wasn’t fitting her mouth properly, as her lip kept sagging down.
“By the end, I was trying to hold my lips up with my finger and the person doing the whitening was helping. It didn’t feel quite normal,” she said.
“My lips did look a little swollen, but I assumed it was just where they had been stretched out by the guard.
“I was given after-care tips on what to eat and drink, as well as a special mineralising gel, and went to bed that night assuming I’d wake up completely fine.”
THE NEXT MORNING
Clare woke to her upper lip more than doubled in size, ballooning to the point where she looked as if she’d been “hit in the face.”
She had to leave the house but was deeply ashamed of her appearance and was worried people would stare.
“People did notice, but nobody wanted to say anything,” Clare said.
“I think people thought I’d had lip fillers.”
Luckily, after about 48 hours, the swelling reduced, but Clare’s mouth was filled with blisters, which took even longer to heal.
She even struggled to talk for several days and was instructed to take regular doses of antihistamines and ibuprofen.
“I contacted the person who’d done the treatment to tell them, and they said it looked like I’d had an allergic reaction, but couldn’t offer much more from a medical point of view,” Clare said.
“They apologised though and even checked in to see how I was a few days later.
“Personally, I believe it happened because my lip sagged down over the mouth guard and came into contact with the bleaching gel.”
WARNING TO OTHERS
Now fully recovered, Clare has urged others to only have teeth whitening services performed by registered dentists, rather than being sucked in by the promise of quick-fix results and cheap deals.
“I could go online right now, buy a kit and whiten my own teeth, with no understanding of dentistry,” she said.
“People are striving for perfection now, and while I’d never do anything major to my looks, I thought the teeth whitening would be a way of brightening my smile — plus it was a good deal.
“Now, I know it is worth paying out for a proper dentist and I want to make other people aware of this, too.”
This story originally appeared in The Sun and has been republished here with permission.