Prednisone causes an unpleasant disfiguration of the face called Moon Face. Fat is deposited on the cheeks and neck making the face appear round like the moon. This frustrating side effect and appearance-changer made it so that even Apple’s facial recognition software did not recognize me. It is a key sign of Cushing’s syndrome.
Read on below to find out answers to these questions:
- What is Moon Face?
- How can I cope emotionally with my face change?
- When does Moon Face happen? When does it go away? Who gets it?
- How do you get rid of Prednisone Moon Face?
What is Moon Face?
Watch this short video as Dr. Megan describes what Moon Face from prednisone is to the Moon Face Place Facebook Page.
Princess Bride as Inspiration
Remember the movie Princess Bride? An iconic character in that movie walks around, often drunk, saying to everyone, “do you have six fingers on your right hand?” He is ready to say:
“My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
He felt so inspired to change his life, to study fencing and become the best swordsman he could be.
Because he had a battle scar, a slice on each cheek from the Six Fingered Man.
Every time he saw his reflection, he saw those scars on his cheeks. Instead of hiding away in fear and shame, his cheeks inspired him to become a master swordsman.
Watch this video to hear Dr. Megan share more about this Moon Face Inspiration!
How can I cope emotionally with my face change?
We have a choice. If we get Moon Face while on prednisone, we can choose how to respond. So many of us, including me on some days, feel ashamed of our new faces. We feel that others judge us and think we look fat. Prednisone patients have told stories of how they were mistaken for their own brother because their appearance changed so much. In response, we can choose to stay home from social gatherings. We can hide away our Moon Face so that no one sees it.
Or we can choose to embrace Moon Face. Like Inigo Montoya, we can choose to use our cheek changes to inspire us to change.
We can choose to Embrace Moon Face
Moon Face is a Battle Scar
In many cultures, scars are treated with high respect, showing evidence that the carrier of that scar must have fought a tremendous battle and survived.
Moon Face is the same. Moon Face shows that you are fighting a battle to survive. If you have Moon Face, you are taking Prednisone, and if you are taking Prednisone, you must only be doing it for some serious reason. You are fighting to survive.
Moon Face is a badge of honor. It is your proof that you are not going to just die; you refuse to just let your disease or condition knock you down.
Instead, you are brave enough to take a miraculous, yet poisonous medicine to keep you alive. You are courageous enough to put up with side effects.
Embrace Moon Face
So instead of hiding our Moon Face away in shame, let’s embrace Moon Face. Let’s use Moon Face as inspiration to change our lives, just like Inigo Montoya. Like a true moon, let us reflect the Light of the Sun, sharing our inspiration and joy with the world. Embrace Moon Face as your badge of honor, your battle scar that you are fighting a battle, even if no one knows what that battle costs you.
Like Inigo Montoya, we can own our scar and say, “This has happened to me. But I am fighting back. I am taking care of myself. I am worth fighting for. Here’s my daily reminder: every day I look in the mirror and I see this. But my body is worth it. I am fighting to stay well and here is the evidence that I am fighting.”
The Science of Moon Face
When Does Moon Face Happen?
Moon face usually happens when you’ve been on prednisone for more than three weeks. It can happen sooner if you take a high dose, such as over 40 mg per day. The main principle to understand is that moon face from prednisone is worse the higher the dose. The fat deposits worsen the higher the dose.
The higher the dose, the rounder the face.
When does Moon Face go away?
Moon face usually goes away slowly as your dose decreases. Below 10 mg, most notice a difference. Below 5 mg, most people do not have much moon face. Once you stop taking prednisone, moon face usually vanishes within a month. However, some have reported moon face lasting several months. It usually disappears pretty quickly though.
How common is Moon Face?
One online survey of 820 people on prednisone or other steroids in France showed that 387, or 47.2% experienced it. This was labeled “lipodystrophy” so could have included both moon face and buffalo hump. According to this study, other frequently reported side effects included insomnia (58.2%), mood disturbances (50.1%) and hyperphagia (49.0%, which means really hungry!). They noticed a trend toward less lipodystrophy as patients were older.
Another study of 88 prednisone patients showed that lipodystrophy was the most common side effect (63%). Those who suffered this side effect “considered [it] the most distressing.”
Who gets Moon Face?
A study in France of 88 patients on prednisone 20 mg or more each day showed that the risk for developing moon face (corticosteroid-induced lipodystrophy, CIL) after three months of therapy was higher for the following types of people:
- Younger than 50 years old
- Higher BMI before treatment
- Eating more calories (more than 30 kcal/day/kg).
Is it just my face? Or does it mean anything else?
The 88 French patients continued to be studied in another publication. This showed that those who got moon face (CIL) had a higher risk for the following compared with those who did not get moon face:
- Higher blood pressure
- Higher fasting blood glucose, total cholesterol and triglycerides
- Lower HDL-cholesterol
How to Get Rid of Prednisone Moon Face
The three main strategies to reduce or minimize moon face include the following, which I will go more detail into below.
- Stop taking prednisone
- Change your diet: consume less salt and sugar.
- Drink more water
1. Stop Taking Prednisone
Since moon face from prednisone goes away the lower the dose, the easiest solution is to stop taking prednisone. But *NEVER* stop taking it suddenly or without talking to your doctor! It can be fatal!
The real problem is if you are taking prednisone, you probably need it for a really good reason, like to save your life, keep you breathing, stop you from bleeding, or allow you to move. Stopping prednisone is not really an option, so the next two strategies are your best bet.
2. Change Your Diet
While this is not a cure, if you stop eating the typical American diet, it can minimize moon face. Foods high in salt and sugar exacerbate prednisone’s worst side effects. Eating lots of sugar worsens hyperglycemia from prednisone. Eating salt worsens swelling. This all worsens weight gain.
3. Drink More Water
Prednisone is a drug with mineralocorticoid properties. That means it can worsen water retention from too much salt. Drinking water can help your kidneys flush out extra salt.
Watch this video to learn more:
Moon 🌚 Face – How to Reduce 🌝 While on Prednisone 💊 (Side Effect)
Need more tips about how to counteract prednisone side effects?
You need the Prednisone Checklist:
Balance Your Health By Changing The Things That Are In Your Control To Change
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- Avoid the top 7 prednisone mistakes
Counteract Prednisone Side Effects
You can discover exactly how to have the good effects outweigh the side effects just like I did since I had to take prednisone to save my life.
I’ve even put together a free Prednisone Checklist showing you 25+ tips for how to get your life back while taking this horrible, miracle drug.
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