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 lips and cheeks. This cosmetic procedure is considered very 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 such as Radiesse®, Juvederm®, Voluma® and Restylane® are swelling, redness and bruising at the sites of injection. These side effects are expected, short lived, and can be covered with make up.
The rarest but most serious complication of fillers is blindness. The FDA sent out a safety communication earlier this year warning about reports of blindness. This complication has occurred when filler is injected around the eyes or in the area between the eyebrows. It is thought that this occurs because the filler unintentionally enters a blood vessel and blocks blood flow to the eye, which can result in blindness.
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. Oftentimes 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. In rare occasions, they may be cut out.
Seek a Professional
While these complications 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 prevent complications, but he or she is best suited to recognize and manage a complication should one arise. As always, stay safe and be your best!