The last few weeks have been a roller coaster for Tessica Brown, the Louisiana woman who used Gorilla Glue instead of hair spray one day in January.
She catapulted to internet fame last week after posting a video on TikTok in which she called the decision to use the adhesive spray a “bad, bad, bad idea.” More than 30 million people have viewed it there, along with countless more on Instagram and Twitter. They have clamored for updates and flooded her posts with words of encouragement (and criticism), all while piling on suggestions for how to help. But nothing worked.
Finally this week, more than a month after her mishap, Ms. Brown has had the glue removed from her hair, thanks to a Los Angeles plastic surgeon who spent hours on Wednesday using a homemade solvent to get the job done.
“It went from scary to terrifying to pretty much being tortured,” Ms. Brown, 40, said in an interview on Thursday. “And at this point, a big relief.”
Ms. Brown, who runs a day care and a dance team, the Dazzling Divaz, in Violet, La., said that if she could go back to the day it all began she would have worn a hat instead.
While rushing to get ready about a month ago, Ms. Brown realized she had run out of her usual hair spray, Got2b Glued. Scrambling, she spotted a bottle of Gorilla Spray Adhesive, a permanent spray made by Gorilla Glue. She thought that by the time she got home that night she would be able to wash it out. A month later, it hadn’t budged.
Desperate, she turned to social media “to see if somebody out there could tell me what I can use to get this off my head,” she said.
Skin and hair experts weighed in, and celebrities offered sympathy. Neal Farinah, a well-known hairstylist whose client list includes Beyoncé, offered to help her take care of her scalp or with a wig. Ms. Brown tried many of the recommended treatments — oils, acetone, apple cider vinegar — but nothing worked. As the days went on, she said, it felt like her ponytail was getting tighter and tighter: like “red ants were dancing on my skull.”
On Saturday, she went to the emergency room, where nurses began an acetone treatment, Ms. Brown said.
“It was burning to the point that my heart was beating too fast, so we had to keep stopping,” she said. A nurse told her the procedure would likely take 20 hours, so she asked to continue the treatment at home with the help of her mother and sisters.
But they had made little progress when she heard from Dr. Michael Obeng, a plastic surgeon from Los Angeles, who offered to remove the glue from her head free of charge. He performed the procedure on Wednesday while she was under light anesthesia. Afterward, she was able to comb through her hair with her fingers.
“Dr. Obeng got every bit of it out,” she said, adding that he’ll give her a few more scalp treatments to prevent her hair from falling out, she said.
Dr. Obeng declined to speak through his publicist on Thursday, citing an exclusive interview that he had promised to an undisclosed outlet.
In an interview with TMZ on Wednesday after the surgery, Dr. Obeng said he created a solvent to dissolve polyurethane, the main active ingredient in Gorilla Glue, made of medical grade adhesive remover, aloe vera, olive oil and a little bit of acetone. He tested the concoction on a skull outfitted with real hair and extensions that he matted down with Gorilla Spray Adhesive.
“I have a chemistry background, so I knew that any compound can be broken down,” Dr. Obeng said in the video. He said that the surgery “went well,” and that Ms. Brown was lucky not have been severely injured on her scalp, other than some irritation from chemical treatments she had used.
“She’s been through a lot, and I hope that you guys will learn from Tessica’s injuries,” he said.
A spokeswoman for Gorilla Glue said the company was glad Ms. Brown had been able to receive treatment and “we hope that she is doing well.” The spokeswoman declined to comment on whether Ms. Brown’s experience had led to any discussion about whether to add hair to the list of improper places to use Gorilla Glue Adhesive Spray on the product’s label.
Ms. Brown said reports that she was planning to sue Gorilla Glue were untrue.
She said she’s learned from her hair mishap, as well as the instant fame.
“Never use Gorilla Glue in your hair, for one,” she said. “If you don’t have the right product that you need, I think it would be best to do without.”
Ms. Brown said she was unprepared for the backlash she received and said she has asked herself why she posted to social media, especially after her children faced ridicule at school.
“But then, if I’d never posted it, it would still be in my head,” she said. “I wouldn’t be where I’m at right now, so I’m glad I did post it.”