Face It: Procedure Brings HIV+ Man From Corpse-like to Comely
Posted by pozlife on August 2, 2007
by Julian Aynsley, Special to 365Gay.com
Everything is a mixed blessing. Thirty-five years ago, bisexuality wasn’t cool, except for David Bowie. Nowadays, most guys see me as just another dude, but with an extended range of networking and interfacing capabilities!
Even then however, my flexibility made me popular. Unfortunately, it also contributed to my becoming another HIV statistic, and therein the story lies — because drugs are a “mixed blessing” too.
How can one describe meds that restore health, even while making the patient look sicker than he was to begin with? After seven years of these evil lifesavers, my face was becoming hollowed out, bit by bit, like a stone under a waterfall.
I hadn’t quite reached the point where I looked like the host on “Tales From The Crypt,” but I was definitely headed in that direction.
It was also beginning to affect business relationships. Presenting proposals, I wondered if I was boring people when I noticed them looking at their wrist watches. Then I realized that they were just speculating about my “expiration date.”
“Lipoatrophy,” was the name the doctors gave to this process of facial wasting. Well, we all know what “atrophy” means; the prefix “lipo,” refers to fat. Great . . . now even my FAT was lazy! My face was letting me down big time, and my cheeks desperately needed a personal trainer.
Enter Dr. Francis Beninger. Oddly enough, I’d found “Dr. B,” as I call him, the same way I’d found a few of my boyfriends – on the Internet.
I was pleased to find that he’s a talented, compassionate and caring physician. Walking into his luxurious surroundings I was reassured to find that, in addition to his usual clientele, Dr. B. had apportioned a generous amount of time for the lipoatrophy community.
We discussed various options, and for a number of reasons I decided on an injectable treatment called “Sculptra.” I liked the sound of that — it seemed to me like the name of something Michealangelo would use if he were a contemporary plastic surgeon.
We began by drawing on my face – kind of a little “Gene Simmons” moment. Then I steeled myself. 200 needles – in the face, yet – and without even a trendy tattoo to show for it!
I was all “psyched up” for what I was sure was going to be the equivalent of a real knock-down, drag-out S/M session, but I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the needles are very fine, and with anaesthetic, there is minimal discomfort.
During the procedure, I realized that the “health” vs. “appearance” factor wasn’t the only irony in play. Since I was trying to hold my ego together, I reflected on the fact that “Sculptra” is made of the same stuff as dissolvable stitches. Who says the Universe doesn’t have a sense of humour?
The effects of Sculptra are temporary (three years), so I guess it’s more appropriate to compare the product to a drug than to surgery, except that, in this case, one hopes the hangover lasts as long as possible!
In any case, “touch-ups” can be done before the whole effect is gone. Sculptra has become so popular that the company is even able to offer a compassionate consideration program to those who are still too sick to work yet.
The story has a happy ending, because I’m pleased with the results. My face used to make me feel like I should go lie down and rest somewhere. Now my reflection merely causes guilt over not being at the gym.
The fringe benefit is that I don’t quite look quite my age, either. At 54, I’m pleased to say that I look kind of like 35 . . . with a bit of hard living thrown in. All of which is perfect – looking slightly “interesting” and comfortably “broken-in” is infinitely superior to looking old and sick.