Actress McKenzie Westmore opens up about having reconstructive surgery after Bad Filler

Passions Actress McKenzie Westmore, member of a beauty dynasty and founder of cosmetics company Westmore Beauty, entered the beauty industry to help women feel beautiful and confident. But behind the scenes, she wanted to stay hidden, hoping to stay out of sight to hide the effects of the nasty filler that had migrated around her face. Now, she’s sharing her harrowing story for the first time with PEOPLE.

Westmore is the great-granddaughter of British hairstylist George Westmore (who founded Hollywood’s first hair and makeup department in 1917) and one of the many Westmores who followed in George’s footsteps and earned the family a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. for their contribution to the industry.

That story led McKenzie, an actress and TV presenter best known for her long-running role as Sheridan Crane Lopez-Fitzgerald on the hit soap opera Passionsto launch her cosmetics company Westmore Beauty in 2015. But despite her business success, she tells PEOPLE that she faced personal struggles that affected her appearance and only made her more anxious.

McKenzie landed her first major role Passions at 19, and the pressures of being in the spotlight at a young age led her to become anorexic, she tells PEOPLE.

The resulting weight loss affected her appearance, and television industry confidantes at the time recommended she try fillers to combat the “smoky” face caused by her anorexia. This led to more than a decade of excessive filler use, after which lumps began to form under her skin. By the summer of 2022, McKenzie, who had recovered from her eating disorder, decided it was time to seek help.

McKenzie Westmore reveals he had reconstructive surgery after Bad Filler

Courtesy of McKenzie Westmore McKenzie Westmore shares before (left) and after (right) photos of her filler makeover exclusively with PEOPLE.

She turned to board-certified facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr. Paul Nassif, who is known for co-hosting the reality show. Wrongfor help.

Dr. Nassif tells PEOPLE that when too much filler is injected into one area, it can often migrate to other parts of the face, unintentionally. Also, if the injection appointments are not properly spaced, it can cause the skin to fill up too quickly — which can also lead to migration.

“She was very realistic,” Dr. Nassif says of working with McKenzie. “She knew it was going to be difficult because of the magazine on her face, and she was a real trooper.”

McKenzie tells PEOPLE that “realistic” is exactly what she wanted. “It’s about getting me back to me. This whole thing isn’t about trying to turn me into something else. I just want to look like what I did pre-filler, basically,” she says. “Dr. Nassif said, ‘You have to unmake you finish.” And I like the way he put that, because that’s really what happened.”

To reverse the filler, Dr. Nassif injected the enzyme hyaluronidase into the injectables on her face to dissolve them. McKenzie will also undergo a deep facelift and endoscopic brow lift to add balance and mirror her previous appearance.

McKenzie Westmore reveals he had reconstructive surgery after Bad Filler

McKenzie Westmore reveals he had reconstructive surgery after Bad Filler

Courtesy of McKenzie Westmore McKenzie Westmore shares before (left) and after (right) photos of her filler makeover exclusively with PEOPLE.

Below, McKenzie shares more of her journey with PEOPLE — and explains why now felt like the right time to share.

Where did your filler journey begin?

“My story goes back to my 20s. I had gone through a period working in the industry and being told, even at a size 4 to a size 6, that I was fat. Of course, that’s not the truth.

And so I lost a lot of weight. I went through a battle with anorexia and then it was suggested that maybe fillers would help so I don’t look frail on camera. Mid 20s is not the age to start getting fillers. Not a good age to start. So that’s where these suggestions went and finding doctors, going from doctor to doctor. Who can do this and who can do that?

Agreed, no one put anything in my head to do it. I did it myself. So I take full responsibility and I’ll admit it’s not the most comfortable story to tell. But I hope this helps other people take something from it and learn from it. This is my journey and I just hope to help others through it.”

The First Annual Makeup and Hairdressing Awards

The First Annual Makeup and Hairdressing Awards

McKenzie Westmore in 2001.

When did you start noticing negative effects and migration on your face?

“First of all, if you have anorexia, which eats away at muscle, and then you add filler, that’s skin tightening. Then you add the aging process and you stretch more skin. Then you have to chase it. It’s a vicious cycle.

That’s where I ended up, where I kept adding the filler and it just kept stretching more and more skin. Some of the fillers had migrated because I had done so much and just created a perfect vertical blue bag under my eyes. They started migrating around my face and moving into areas where they shouldn’t, and it got to the point where no amount of makeup was helping in any way to take care of things that were lumpy and uneven. After I started the process of dissolving the filler…I thought some of those lumpy bumps I felt on my face were just part of me, but they weren’t. These were the lumps and bumps of the fillers that just built up over time.

Again, nothing wrong with filler. It really is who you go to, which is why I must stress that it is so important to go to a board certified plastic surgeon, making sure you are not [just] trying to get a good deal.”

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How much did it start to affect your confidence?

“There were times when it was difficult to go to a party or be with people because I felt so self-conscious. You will see many pictures of me wearing sunglasses. I loved this mask [during the pandemic]. The mask was my best friend.

There were days when my husband and I would go out and I have these big, giant sunglasses and then I have this big giant mask. And my husband said, “I feel like I’m out with a ninja right now. What are you doing?’ I was like, “I’m not pulling it off. I don’t care if you feel awkward right now. I feel better this way. I feel completely covered.’

It had really gotten to the point where, between the sunglasses and the mask, I was excited because I was covering up what I was uncomfortable with. My hairstyles even started to change. I had a set of bangs that were made and I was just going to put them on because I wanted to, okay, then that might solve a problem. But then there are other issues.”

32nd Annual Daytime Emmy Awards - Arrivals

32nd Annual Daytime Emmy Awards – Arrivals

McKenzie Westmore in 2005.

What Westmore Beauty products helped you hide some of your discomfort at the time?

“Thank God for Instantly Flawless Foundation and Shadow Edit. Thank God for 60 Second Eye Effects. Those really helped me before fillers became a bigger issue. At least they helped lift my eye. But when it got to the point where the fillers were very heavy, there were just days when it was hard for me [leave the house].”

RELATED: McKenzie Westmore Reveals She Has Tourette Syndrome: ‘I Was Afraid It Would Hurt My Career’

What advice would you give your 25-year-old self?

“So many things. My advice would really be to stand up. It’s hard, because when you start out in this industry, it’s hard to stand up because you’re young. You feel like you’re afraid to speak up, but I think it’s really important for people who start to find their voice sooner rather than later.

If I could go back, I wish I could have told myself to listen to that voice a little earlier, to listen to your gut, to listen to the people who were closest to me, like my parents who said, “Maybe you should to rethink some of these things.” But I didn’t. And we all need those people in our lives to say no. And too many people, especially when we’re in the industry, will always say yes, and you have to watch out for that. And I didn’t notice it.”

“Because I Said So” Los Angeles Premiere – Arrivals

McKenzie Westmore in 2007.

Do you think the industry has evolved at all since you started?

“I feel back when I did them, in the early 2000s, there was more pressure. I feel like today, soap operas are a lot more accepted; there’s more awareness and it’s not as big of a deal today as it was And even within the industry itself, I feel like there’s a lot more awareness [of inclusivity] than existed then. For me, the biggest issue is social media. I think a lot of people can fall into the traps of social media and play the comparison game.”

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Why were you ready to come forward now?

“I hope this can be something that people can look at and say, ‘Oh, wow.’ Okay. Maybe I need to do a little more research. Maybe I need to recheck that doctor I’ve been going to go to… I’m hoping that this is a learning curve for people, that there’s something that people can take away from this.”

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Westmore’s reconstructive surgery journey with Dr. Nassif on PEOPLE.com.

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