A woman has shared how her dream smile turned into a nightmare after she suffered a horrific allergic reaction to her new veneers that left her with painful ‘elephant skin’ and on antidepressants
For nearly 30 years, Lily Lindsay had been self-conscious about her smile. So after seeing a number of TikTok influencers getting veneers, she decided to take the plunge and treat herself ahead of her best friend’s wedding.
The 29-year-old from Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, booked an appointment in August 2022 with a top dentist and paid £1,000 for dental composite veneers – a type of tooth cap made from resin. Initially, she was “chuffed” with the result. However, just two weeks later, she started suffering unpleasant symptoms. It began with Hay Fever-like itchiness, red eyes and dry lips and skin. That quickly spread across her body, leaving her with painful sores she likens to ‘elephant skin’.
As a result of the debilitating allergic reaction, the young woman – who works as a document controller – became depressed and turned into a recluse. Lily explained: “My veneers gave me immensely dry and flaky skin – like elephant skin. No doctors could help me – so I ended up on anti-depressants. It was absolutely consuming me.”
One doctor thought she may be experiencing dermatitis – a common form of skin irritation – and gave her a cream typically used for rosacea. Lily was also told to avoid anything containing an ingredient called sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) – which is used in toothpaste and shampoo, so she stopped using her regular cleanser and started with the prescribed cream.
Nothing seemed to work, and she was advised that she might actually have eczema. She was given steroid cream which started to clear her skin, but her problems returned with a vengeance a month later. The thick, red blotches covered her face and spread down her body – the worst of which was in her underarms.
“Day-to-day, my face would get a little more crusty, itchy, and red,” Lily recalled. “It was so painful under my arms – I couldn’t even put my arms down or shower. My face felt incredibly hot, angry and itchy. I was buying new products to help, trying every diet under the sun – each time, I just ended up in a vicious cycle which was immensely mentally damaging.”
And it wasn’t only Lily who was impacted by the reaction, those closest to her were pushed away as she sunk lower and lower. “My mum came up to visit me for a weekend, she couldn’t bear to see me like that. In fact, she had to leave,” she said. “She couldn’t handle the way I looked because I looked so unwell and she couldn’t do anything to help me.”
Lily also felt bad for not getting more involved with her pal’s wedding at the time, adding: “I felt like a bad friend for not being able to think about how to plan her henny or help her through her big day. I couldn’t do my work, I didn’t want to see my boyfriend… I couldn’t be bothered feeling like this. I was just so low at how I looked – it got to the point where I just didn’t want to be here anymore. I felt like a failure.”
A private dermatologist patch-tested Lily for 100 different allergens – but none came up as severely as the reaction she was experiencing. By January 2023, Lily’s allergy began to affect her immune system – and she experienced dizziness, ringing ears, and black spots in her vision. A blood test revealed the inflammation was inside her body, rather than on her skin.
She then realised that her reaction started two weeks after her veneers. She told one of her dad’s healthcare colleagues who urged her to go back to the dentist. Lily said: “I phoned the dentist – and she was very shocked. It was such a rarity that they didn’t actually think it could be an allergic reaction.”
Her dentist decided to remove the veneers on April, 4, 2023 and footed the £100 bill herself. “My dentist said she’d cover the cost, because I was clearly suffering,” Lily continued. “She was so worried that filing them off may give me an anaphylactic shock – but luckily, it was fine. By mid-May this year, my face had completely cleared up.”
Lily was able to make her friend’s wedding on June 17 with no problems at all and had a “lovely” day. Despite her recovery from the reaction, Lily thinks she should’ve signed a waiver before having the dental work. She added: “I don’t ever recall seeing, or signing anything that says I might have an allergic reaction – it’s not something people really think about. We need to give composite veneers and soft fillings the same level of publicity as gel nail varnish – dentists need to advertise the risks.”
Healthcare expert Dr. Helen Evans-Howells says it’s possible to have an allergic reaction to composite veneers. She said: “Allergic reactions to composite veneers tend to be triggered by the resin used within these products. Commonly, this would trigger contact dermatitis which is caused by a delayed allergic reaction. This would tend to present with irritation at the site of the veneers or mouth ulcers. On occasion, reactions such as eczema, or eye swelling can occur.”
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