Actress McKenzie Westmore Opens Up About Undergoing Reconstructive Surgery After Bad Filler

·8 min read
Actress McKenzie Westmore Opens Up About Undergoing Reconstructive Surgery After Bad Filler

Passions actress McKenzie Westmore, part of a beauty dynasty and founder of the cosmetic company Westmore Beauty, got into the beauty business 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 bad filler that had migrated around her face. Now, she's sharing her painful story for the first time with PEOPLE.

Westmore is the great-great-granddaughter of British hairdresser George Westmore (who established Hollywood's first-ever 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 contributions to the industry.

That history led McKenzie, an actress and TV host best known for her long-standing role as Sheridan Crane Lopez-Fitzgerald on the hit soap opera Passions, to launch the cosmetic company Westmore Beauty in 2015. But despite her entrepreneurial success, she tells PEOPLE she was facing personal struggles that affected her appearance and only made her more anxious.

Westmore landed her first big role in 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 people she trusted in the TV industry at the time recommended she try fillers to counteract the "gaunt" face caused by her anorexia. This led to more than a decade of over-using filler, after which lumps under her skin began to form. By the summer of 2022, Westmore, who had recovered from her eating disorder, decided it was time to seek help.

McKenzie Westmore Opens Up About Undergoing Reconstructive Surgery After Bad Filler
McKenzie Westmore Opens Up About Undergoing Reconstructive Surgery After Bad Filler

Courtesy of McKenzie Westmore McKenzie Westmore shares before (left) and after (right) photos of her filler reversal 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 Botched, for help.

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

"She was very realistic," Dr. Nassif says of working with Westmore. "She knew it would be tough because of all the filler in her face, and she was a real trouper."

Westmore tells PEOPLE that "realistic" is exactly what she was going for. "It's about getting me back to me. This whole thing is not 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, 'I need to unmake you over.' And I love the way that he put that, because that's really what it boiled down to."

For the filler reversal, Dr. Nassif injected the enzyme hyaluronidase to the injectables in her face to dissolve them. Westmore will also undergo a deep plane facelift and endoscopic brow lift to help add balance and reflect her former appearance.

McKenzie Westmore Opens Up About Undergoing Reconstructive Surgery After Bad Filler
McKenzie Westmore Opens Up About Undergoing Reconstructive Surgery After Bad Filler

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

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

Where did your journey with filler start? 

"My story goes back into my mid-20s. I had gone through a period of working in the industry and was being told, even at size 4 to 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 of anorexia and it was suggested then that maybe fillers would help, so I didn't look gaunt on camera. Mid-20s is not the age that someone should be starting to get fillers. That's not a good age to start. So it just kind of trickled from there, of these suggestions and finding doctors, going from doctor to doctor to doctor. Who can do this and who can do that?

Granted, nobody held anything to my head to do it. I did it myself. So I take full responsibility and I will admit it's not the most comfortable story to tell. But I hope that this helps other people to take something from this and learn from this. This is my journey and I just hope to help others through this."

First Annual Make Up and Hairstylists Awards
First Annual Make Up and Hairstylists Awards

McKenzie Westmore in 2001.

When did you start to notice negative effects and migration in your face? 

"First of all, if you have anorexia, which eats away muscle, and then you add filler, that's stretching skin. Then you add the aging process and you're stretching more skin. Then you've got to chase it. It's a vicious cycle.

That's eventually where I ended up, where I kept adding in the filler and it just kept stretching more and more skin. Some of the fillers had migrated because I'd done so many, and they created just a perfect vertical blue bag under my eyes. They started to migrate around my face and move to areas where they shouldn't be, and it just got to the point where no makeup was helping in any way to take care of things that were lumpy and bumpy. After I started the process of dissolving filler ... I thought some of these like bumps I was feeling in my face were just part of me, but they weren't. Those were the lumps and bumps of the fillers that were just built up over time.

Again, there's nothing wrong with filler. Really, it's who you go to, and that's why I got to stress that going to a board-certified plastic surgeon is so important, making sure that you're not [just] trying to get a good deal."

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How much did it start to affect your self-confidence?  

"There were times where it was difficult to go to a party or be around people because I did feel very self-conscious. You will see a lot of photos of me with sunglasses on. I was loving that mask [during the pandemic]. The mask was my best friend.

There were days 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 was like, 'I feel like I'm out with a ninja right now. What are you doing?' I was like, 'I'm not taking it off. I don't care if you feel embarrassed right now. I feel better like this. I feel completely covered.'

It had really gotten to that point where, between the sunglasses and the mask, I was thrilled because I was covering up what I felt uncomfortable about. My hairstyles even started to change. I had a set of clip-in bangs that were made and I was going to just put those in because I was like, OK, then that'll solve maybe one issue. 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 conceal some of your discomfort at the time? 

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

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

"So many things. My advice really would be to stand stronger. It is tough, because when you're starting off in this industry, it's difficult to stand strong because you're new. You feel like you're afraid to speak up, but I think it's very important for people that are starting off to find their voice sooner rather than later.

If I could go back, I wish that I could tell myself to really have that voice a little bit sooner, to listen to your gut, to listen to the people that were closest to me, like my parents who were saying, 'Maybe you should 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 got to be careful of that. And I wasn't careful of that."

"Because I Said So" Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals
"Because I Said So" Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals

McKenzie Westmore in 2007.

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

"I feel back when I was doing them, back in the early 2000s, there was more pressure. I feel like today, soap operas are much more accepting; there's more of an awareness and it's not as much of an issue today as it was back then. And even in the industry itself, I feel like there is much more of an awareness [of inclusivity] than there was back then. To me, the bigger issue is social media; I think a lot of people can fall into the traps of social media and playing the comparison game."

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Why were you ready to come forward now?

"I'm hoping that this can be something that people can look at and go, 'Oh, wow. OK. Maybe I do need to do a little more research. Maybe I do need to double-check that doctor I was going to go to. ...I hope 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.