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Dermal Filler Complications: What Should You Know?

By Kaitlyn Konsur , RN


In recent years, the popularity of dermal fillers has increased, promising satisfying results for fine lines, wrinkles, and facial volume loss. With minimal downtime and impressive results, it’s clear why these injections are used worldwide to help achieve patient’s personalized aesthetic goals. However, like any cosmetic procedure, dermal fillers come with potential risks and complications that are crucial to understand before undergoing treatment.

Dermal fillers, typically made from hyaluronic acid or collagen, are injected into the skin to plump up areas and diminish the appearance of wrinkles and folds. While the majority of procedures are performed without incident, complications can arise, ranging from mild to severe. It’s essential for both patients and practitioners to be aware of these potential issues and to take steps to minimize their occurrence.

One of the most common complications associated with dermal fillers is bruising and swelling at the injection site. This is usually temporary and resolves within a few days. However, in some cases, bruising can be more pronounced and take longer to fade. Patients can minimize the risk of bruising by avoiding blood-thinning medications and supplements, such as aspirin and fish oil, in the days leading up to their treatment. It is also recommended that patients use Arnica gel or tablets pre and post procedure.

Another potential complication is infection, though it is relatively rare when injections are performed by a qualified and experienced practitioner in a clean environment. Signs of infection include redness, swelling, and tenderness at the injection site, as well as fever and chills. Patients should seek medical attention if they experience any of these symptoms following a dermal filler procedure.

One of the most feared complications of dermal fillers is vascular occlusion, which occurs when filler is inadvertently injected into a blood vessel, cutting off blood flow to surrounding tissues. This can lead to tissue necrosis (death), scarring, and even blindness if the filler blocks blood flow to the eye. While vascular occlusion is rare, it underscores the importance of choosing a skilled and knowledgeable injector who is familiar with facial anatomy and knows how to minimize the risk of complications.

Other potential complications of dermal fillers include allergic reactions, lumps and bumps at the injection site, and migration of the filler to other areas of the face. Allergic reactions can range from mild redness and swelling to more severe symptoms such as difficulty breathing and anaphylaxis. Patients should inform their practitioner of any known allergies before undergoing treatment.

Lumps and bumps at the injection site can occur if the filler is injected too superficially or unevenly, or if too much filler is used in one area. While these issues are usually temporary and can be corrected with massage or additional injections, they can be distressing for patients in the meantime.

Migration of filler occurs when the product moves from the intended injection site to another area of the face. This can result in asymmetry or an unnatural appearance and may require additional treatment to correct.

There is a couple things patients can do to minimize the risk of complications when undergoing dermal filler treatment.

First and foremost, it’s essential to choose a qualified and experienced practitioner who is trained in facial anatomy and injection techniques. Patients should research potential providers, read reviews, and ask to see before-and-after photos of previous patients.

Before undergoing treatment, patients should have a thorough consultation with their injector to discuss their goals, expectations, and any concerns they may have. The injector should explain the procedure in detail, including the risks and potential complications, and answer any questions the patient may have.

During the procedure, patients should feel comfortable speaking up if they experience any pain or discomfort, or if something doesn’t feel right. It’s also important for patients to follow their injector’s post-treatment instructions carefully, including avoiding touching the area treated, performing strenuous exercise, excessive sun exposure, and certain medications and supplements that can increase the risk of bruising and swelling.

In conclusion, while dermal fillers can be a safe and effective way to achieve a more youthful appearance, they are not without risks. Patients should educate themselves about the potential complications associated with these injections and take steps to minimize their occurrence by choosing a qualified practitioner, communicating openly with their injector, and following post-treatment instructions carefully. By doing so, patients can enjoy the benefits of dermal fillers with confidence and peace of mind.


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