Cosmetic fillers for the face can give amazing results that are long-lasting and anti-aging. Fillers are used to smooth wrinkles and plump up your lips and cheeks. This cosmetic procedure is considered safe, but there are rare complications that can occur. Fillers are injected into the face with a small needle. The most common side effects of fillers are swelling, redness, and bruising at injection sites. These side effects are not uncommon and are often short-lived. You can cover them with makeup so they are hidden until they fade or disappear.
While safe for most people, those with specific allergies or bleeding disorders should refrain from having the procedure done. In all cases, before considering any treatments, you should discuss any potential risks and benefits with a licensed healthcare professional.
In general, dermal fillers are used for cosmetic procedures like minimizing age lines and smoothing out your skin. These are injected into your skin with a small needle and are made of materials including collagen injections, hyaluronic acid gel, calcium hydroxylapatite, or Poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA). Most of the time, fillers are temporary and last around six months. Why aren’t they permanent? Because your body eventually absorbs them, and thus, the ‘filler’ effect is lost.
It’s important to note that fillers are only intended to treat fine lines and wrinkles, not for body contouring procedures. These can cause severe injury or even death. A 2017 press release from the FDA warned of unqualified representatives posing as health care providers and using silicone injections for body contouring purposes, such as breast or butt fillers. Because silicone easily spreads and migrates in your body, it can worsen any effects you’re trying to remedy, and the side effects can be difficult to resolve. That’s why it’s essential to get any treatment from a licensed healthcare practitioner with a proven track record of quality.
The most severe complication is related to any potential allergic reactions, which is why it’s so important to work closely with your healthcare provider before receiving any treatment. A severe allergic reaction can result in anaphylactic shock, leading to the need for emergency medical help.
One rare but severe complication of fillers is blindness. This complication can occur when the filler is injected around the eyes or in the area between the eyebrows. It is thought that this happens because the filler unintentionally enters a blood vessel and blocks blood flow to the eye, which can result in blindness. Less serious but related side effects of fillers include blurred vision, scarring, or partial vision loss.
Another complication of unintentional injection into a blood vessel is skin necrosis. When skin necrosis occurs, the affected area turns black or blue and sloughs off, usually in just a small area about the size of a dime. Most of the time, the skin heals normally, but rarely this can lead to a scar.
Another rare complication is the delayed development of red, inflamed-looking nodules at the sites of injection. There are different theories about why this occurs. One theory is that this is a form of infection. It is thought that bacteria are growing on the filler, so treatment is oral antibiotics. If the filler used was a hyaluronic acid filler such as Juvederm®, Voluma®, or Restylane®, then a product called hyaluronidase can be injected to dissolve or remove the filler.
Sometimes the patient will develop hard nodules under the skin that are not red or inflamed, but it can be uncomfortable or even lumpy looking. Often these will resolve on their own without treatment. Some physicians will attempt to break up the nodules with a needle, hyaluronidase injection, or a dilute cortisone solution. On rare occasions, they may need to be removed medically.
Seek a Professional
While the severe side effects of fillers sound very scary, they are also rare. Used correctly, fillers are still one of the best and safest ways to improve your appearance and prevent aging. To minimize your risk of a problem, seek out a physician experienced in injections. Not only will an experienced injector take all measures to avoid complications, but he or she is best suited to recognize and manage a complication should one arise.
Also, always educate yourself before any procedures. Though working with a healthcare professional is the only route to consider, knowing the potential side effects and risks ahead of time will allow you to recognize anything out of the ordinary or any dangers that arise after you leave the treatment facility. Empower yourself to be as safe as possible, so you can look good and feel confident in your decision.
As always, stay safe and be your best!