What happens if Dermal Filler goes wrong?
First things first. To stay safe and achieve the results you’re looking for, you need to do your research and make sure the person you’re entrusting with your face and paying your money to is not only adequately qualified but also good at what they do.
So, how do you know if your fillers are fine and what you’re experiencing is normal? What should you be looking for when researching practitioners for your aesthetic treatments? And at what point should you seek help if you’re worried following a procedure?
What is ‘normal’ to experience after dermal fillers?
How your face will behave after filler is very hard to predict. Some people experience no bruising, minimal swelling if any, and leave the treatment couch looking instantly refreshed, plumped and radiant.
If you’re very fair or have delicate, sensitive skin that bruises or reacts easily – well, you may bruise more. This isn’t anything to worry about, but if it’s on your face, it will show, and it may take up to two weeks to clear.
More pronounced swelling is more likely to occur with lip fillers. This is due to the delicate nature of the tissue. In most cases, swelling is mild to moderate, but this has significantly reduced with the introduction of more advanced filler products such as Juvederm Volift.
It’s entirely normal for the lips to look very slightly overfilled for the first one to two days after treatment. By the third day, this has usually improved. Lumpiness and asymmetry are other issues that may occur whilst the area heals, however, this is much less likely to happen in the hands of an experienced injector.
You can reduce swelling and bruising after injections by applying an icepack (wrapped in a clean cloth) to the area every few hours and using arnica cream.
Avoid alcohol 24 hours before and after having injections. Not because it will affect the treatment in any way, but because it will dilate your blood vessels, which may mean you are more likely to experience bruising or swelling.
If you do experience bruising, you’ll need a good concealer or foundation to cover things up. Our secret weapon is the Oxygenetix Oxygenating Foundation (link), which is the only foundation that is safe enough to use immediately post-treatment and is proven to help heal the skin.
How to spot a complication
Fortunately, these days, the majority of dermal filler treatments are carried out using hyaluronic acid-based products. This means that if you don’t like the results, have been over-treated or experience a complication, it’s possible to reverse the treatment by injecting the filler with Hyalase, an enzyme (hyaluronidase) that works like magic to dissolve the injected hyaluronic acid.
Lumps and nodules
It’s perfectly normal for the area to sometimes feel a little bumpy in the days immediately following treatment. This is likely down to the inflammation, so let the area settle and avoid touching it too much.
If the lumps persist, or if they’re quite large, see your practitioner as soon as possible to see what they suggest. They may massage them with a compress to help break down the lump. Alternatively, if the filler is a hyaluronic acid gel, they may dissolve it with an injection of Hyalase.
Very rarely are people allergic to dermal filler. Though, more commonly, they are allergic to the anaesthetic included in the filler. If you experience a reaction, you may experience prolonged swelling, prolonged redness, pain and itchiness.
If you think you may be experiencing an allergic reaction to the filler, you should contact your practitioner immediately for advice. They should ask to see you face to face and may dissolve the filler and administer antihistamines. This is why it’s so important to ensure your practitioner is medically trained and will be able to look after you in the rare event of a complication such as this.
Any time the skin barrier is compromised, there is a risk of infection. This risk is very minor in a clinical environment, with a practitioner who uses sterile equipment and FDA or CE-approved products. Symptoms of infection include prolonged inflammation, redness, pain, warmth and abscesses.
If you think the treated area has developed an infection, you should contact your practitioner straight away for assessment. This may include lancing the area to remove the infected fluid, dissolving the filler with hyalase, and treating with antibiotics.
Vascular occlusions are very rare but pose a severe risk.
Vascular occlusions occur when the filler is injected directly into an artery or vein or when the filler is injected close to a vessel and blocks it indirectly. When this happens, the onset of symptoms is rapid, and the practitioner needs to act quickly and decisively.
Immediate vascular occlusion symptoms include severe pain, blanching of the skin, blisters, mottled skin and blue/black discolouration.
If you think you have an occlusion, you must seek help immediately. If the occlusion is spotted whilst you’re still on the treatment couch, your practitioner will take immediate action. This usually includes dissolving the filler and administering an anticoagulant such as aspirin.
If symptoms occur once you’ve left the clinic, you must go back and see your practitioner immediately. If this isn’t possible or your practitioner is unwilling to help, you need to seek help elsewhere. Many of the best practitioners spend a lot of time correcting other people’s bad work. Practitioners listed in CMAC may be able to help you.
Yes, this sounds scary, but it’s also very rare. If you are in any doubt about the reaction you’re experiencing after an injectable procedure, the best thing to do is seek expert advice at once.
What to avoid at all costs
There are specific filler treatments and situations you should steer well clear of. If your practitioner offers you any of the following, always walk away.
- Any non-surgical procedure that claims to be a permanent fix
- Permanent fillers such as silicone fillers – because why would you want anything injected into your face that’s going to stay there for good?
- Products that haven’t been subjected to proper clinical trials. Make sure you ask your practitioner about the product they plan to use when treating you.
- Any practitioner or clinic where you feel uncomfortable, or anyone who puts you under pressure to commit to a treatment you’re not sure about or haven’t had the time to consider properly.
How to find a good, reputable practitioner
Start by doing your homework and asking the right questions. To achieve the results you’re looking for from any aesthetic procedure, you must find the right practitioner for your needs. Unfortunately, thanks to the appalling lack of regulation within the UK’s aesthetics industry, this isn’t as straightforward as it should be.
Download our guide below, which explains exactly what you should be looking for when searching for a reputable practitioner, the questions you should ask and what to expect from the consultation and treatment process.
Disclaimer: Please be aware that results and benefits may vary from patient to patient taking into consideration factors such as age, lifestyle and medical history.