Celia Anderson doesn't like to go out much anymore.
"I get all dressed up and everything and I look in the mirror and say: `Oh, forget it.'"Him and the kids," she says, nodding at her husband, Bill, "say it doesn't look that bad and I know it does."
Despite 20 operations on her face since 1978, Anderson is trapped inside her bruises, swollen lips, puffy cheeks and headaches. "Before, I was happy and I wanted to go anywhere. Now I don't. Now I'm really nervous. Sometimes I'm depressed and now I don't want to go anywhere. I'm afraid to try anything new."
In a society colored by mirrors and makeup, Anderson's face is painfully disfigured. Her insurance company has paid more than $110,000 in medical bills. "Right now I need another surgery and the insurance won't pay for it."
Anderson, 59, Tooele, first went to see a doctor because the skin in her cheeks appeared to be sinking, and a yellowish bruise type of stain was spreading across her nose. "I never even noticed it," Bill Anderson said. "She was just a little hollow-cheeked."
Anderson was diagnosed as having lipodystrophy, a condition of abnormal fat accumulation, and told injections of 20 shots of liquid silicone in each cheek would cure her condition.
What the doctor didn't tell her, Anderson says in a 3rd District Court lawsuit, was that the injections were experimental, for people with severe conditions.
For two months, her skin appeared fine. "Then all of a sudden it started swelling up and hurting." At first she was told the pain was a temporary side-effect of the treatment.
She later consulted another doctor and was told she had never suffered from lipodystrophy. That led her into a legal battle.
Among others, Anderson sued her plastic surgeon, Robert M. Woolf, saying he used her face for "human experimentation." The case was settled out-of-court, and Woolf is now retired, according to attorney P. Keith Nelson.
Anderson's legal battle continues against Dow Corning Corp., the company that manufactures the silicone, as well as the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons, and Dr. Robert Goldwyn, of Massachusetts, who monitored the experimental injections.
Anderson's attorneys have also filed a Freedom of Information request to the Federal Food and Drug Administration, asking that the results of more than 25 years of silicone experiments be released.
"The drug, at the time it was administered, was not approved for general use," said Anderson's lawyer, Ed Wells, of Robert J. DeBry & Associates.
Third District Court dismissed portions of the suit against Goldwyn and the plastic surgery society, because of jurisdictional questions. The Utah Supreme Court overruled that decision last month and sent Anderson's case back to 3rd District Court.
"The foregoing facts show purposeful acts with known, significant consequences in Utah," according to the unanimous opinion written by Supreme Court Justice Christine Durham. "Utah's interest in protecting Anderson from injury is compelling."
Elliott Williams, a lawyer for the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons, said he has filed a petition for Utah's high court to rehear the case.
But while the lawyers fight about her rights, Anderson continues to suffer headaches every day. Two skin grafts failed.
"I don't even know what it is to live without pain. To me, it seems like it has been forever.
"Sometimes I can't even move my lips. Sometimes I can't get the words out of my mouth."