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How Do Dermal Fillers Affect COVID Vaccines?

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Dr. Hardik Soni

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As more people undergo vaccination for disease control of COVID-19 infection, the topic of any adverse or allergic reaction it might cause for Botox and dermal filler patients has become popular. Although the reported reactions aren’t surprising for most cosmetic experts, it’s still important to explain to patients how they happen and why they shouldn’t prevent patients from getting dermal fillers or COVID vaccines.

So how exactly do dermal fillers and COVID vaccines react with each other? Some patients who had dermal filler treatments before reported that they experienced facial swelling after getting the COVID-19 vaccine because of a heightened immune response. The good news is that this adverse reaction is uncommon and it resolves itself after a few weeks, so patients are still advised to get COVID vaccination even if they had a filler injection before.  

What Do Dermal Fillers Have to Do With COVID Vaccine?

Dermal fillers are an effective and popular way for patients to erase fine lines and wrinkles without the need for cosmetic surgery. According to the Plastic Surgery Statistics Report, about 3.4 million soft tissue filler procedures were performed in 2020 alone.

But recently, there are reports of dermal filler patients who experienced facial or lip swelling after receiving their COVID vaccines. This raised the question of whether it’s safe to receive a facial or lip filler treatment before and after a COVID-19 vaccine, as well as how long patients should wait if they want to get fillers. 

Although the side effects are mild and uncommon, it’s still crucial for patients to understand why they happen. This helps relieve some of the fear or worry they might have regarding both treatments.

a) What Causes Dermal Fillers – COVID Vaccine Reaction?

Further research is needed to exactly determine why the dermal filler reaction occurs with the COVID-19 vaccine, but experts have an idea behind its reason. Swelling can be a delayed inflammatory reaction and a common side effect of any vaccine since it’s the body’s immune response to the vaccine. 

The area treated with hyaluronic acid fillers is more likely to retain fluids, resulting in more severe and longer-lasting inflammation when the swelling caused by the vaccine starts. The temporary swelling can occur in both hyaluronic acid-based and non-hyaluronic acid-based fillers, like PMMA, CaHA, and PLLA. However, additional research is still needed to determine if there are differences in the degree of swelling between different filler types.

b) How Common Are Dermal Fillers and COVID Vaccine Side Effects?

In the 2020 briefing document published by the FDA, 3 out of 15,184 who received the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine developed facial swelling. They were all in the Phase Three trials, but only 2 of them had a history of facial filler treatments before the COVID-19 vaccination. 

Since there’s only a small percentage of cosmetic filler patients who received the vaccine and experienced delayed inflammatory reactions, some experts argue that it’s misleading to call the side effects common. However, patients must still be made aware that there are risks with the treatments so they can seek help immediately when needed.

General Side Effects of COVID Vaccine

Regardless if the patient had facial fillers or not before, they may still experience the following side effects after getting their COVID-19 vaccine:

  • Tenderness, swelling, and pain in the injection site
  • Swollen lymph nodes near the injection site
  • Redness or inflammation
  • Fatigue
  • Headache and muscle aches
  • Joint pain and stiffness
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Fever or chills

Possible Side Effects With Dermal Fillers and Vaccinations

Some side effects reported by cosmetic injection patients after receiving their COVID vaccine include:

  • Swelling around the area where the cosmetic filler was injected
  • General swelling around the entire face
  • Pain around the treatment site of the dermal filler injection
  • Swelling of the throat and face
  • Difficulty breathing because of obstructed airways

c) Does the Vaccine Brand Affect its Reaction to Dermal Fillers?

Aside from the filler type, dermal filler patients also wonder if the specific COVID-19 vaccine used affects the risk and degree of swelling. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough records to show the prevalence of side effects between different vaccine brands. 

Most of the reported cases were of patients who had the Moderna vaccine. The briefing document of the FDA published in 2020 featured 2 patients who had a history of facial filler treatment and experienced facial swelling after receiving their COVID vaccine.

The occurrence of swelling reactions was even more uncommon for patients who had the Pfizer COVID vaccine. A 2022 case study discusses the delayed inflammatory reaction of a 23-year-old patient after receiving the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine. She had dermal filler injections around her lip, chin, and jaw area about 1 year before the COVID vaccination.

d) Is Dermal Filler and COVID Vaccine Reaction Dangerous?

The good news is that the vaccine’s reaction to the cosmetic injectable isn’t serious. Most symptoms resolve themselves within 2 weeks, but the dermal filler patient may take oral medications recommended by the doctor to reduce swelling and tenderness.

Note that pain medicine should only be taken when the symptoms are debilitating. Otherwise, taking anti-inflammatory drugs can affect the body’s ability to build a good immune system response against the virus. Patients are still encouraged to get the vaccine even if they had HA filler treatments before.

Doctors also remind patients that this reaction isn’t unique to the COVID-19 vaccine. The reaction with the cosmetic injectable may also occur with other kinds of vaccines and other naturally occurring viral infections. The side effects are uncomfortable, but they’re usually mild and short-lived.

How Long After Dermal Filler Can I Get COVID Vaccine?

There isn’t any official guideline from the FDA or CDC about how long patients should wait after their hyaluronic acid dermal filler treatment before getting a COVID vaccination. The cases observed by the FDA involved 2 patients who had a history of dermal filler injections: one who got them 6 months before and another who received facial fillers 2 weeks before their vaccine.

Because of both cases, it would seem that the length of time between the filler treatment and vaccination doesn’t affect their chances of developing side effects. However, doctors still recommend that patients wait for the dermal filler to settle and for the mild side effects to subside first before getting vaccinated against the COVID-19 infection.

But to ensure your safety and minimize the risk of any side effects, make sure that you’re qualified for both treatments first. Ask the doctor or provider when it’s best to get vaccinated after the hyaluronic acid filler treatment.

Can I Get Dermal Fillers After COVID Vaccine?

Based on the recently available data about the interaction of dermal fillers and COVID vaccine, it’s still safe for patients to get dermal filler treatments after their COVID-19 vaccine or vice versa. 

But to ensure the patient’s safety and avoid any unwanted side effects, patients are advised to wait at least 2 weeks after their COVID vaccine before getting any cosmetic treatment or dermatologic surgery. It takes about 2 weeks for the second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer COVID vaccine to become fully effective, so it’s crucial to withhold aesthetic treatments until then.

Before getting any other type of treatment, make sure to inform the filler injector or plastic surgeon first about the recent COVID vaccination. This allows them to evaluate whether you’re already qualified for dermal fillers and warn you of any side effects that might occur.

COVID Vaccine and Dermal Fillers Guidance and Recommendations

There’s no official guideline released by any health or government agency that suggests patients should avoid getting any dermal filler injection after their COVID-19 vaccine, but the American Society of Plastic Surgeons has a few recommendations on the matter:

  • Dermal filler patients should not be discouraged from taking the vaccine
  • All reports of facial swelling and inflammatory reactions were resolved using corticosteroids and antihistamines
  • Patients should always be educated using the most recent data available before receiving any dermal filler treatment
  • The patient’s complete medical history should be obtained first before any medical intervention
  • Delayed immune response and dermal filler-associated hypersensitivity can happen to patients who had hyaluronic acid-based and non-hyaluronic acid-based fillers

Safe Dermal Filler Treatments for You by Ethos Spa

Patients who receive regular dermal filler treatments for their lips and wrinkles shouldn’t be worried about COVID vaccines interrupting their routine. It takes proper planning to always look your best while still protecting yourself against the virus.

At Ethos Spa, we have a team of expert injectors trained in the arts of cosmetic dermatology who can provide safe and effective dermal filler treatments for every qualified patient. We also offer other non-surgical aesthetic procedures including acne treatment, Botox injections, laser skin resurfacing, and more.

Call us today to know more about dermal fillers and COVID vaccine reactions or to book an appointment with our team.

Dr. Hardik Soni

MD, Founder/Lead Physician

About Dr. Hardik Soni

Dr. Hardik Soni is the founder and Medical Director of Ethos Aesthetics + Wellness. His primary focus is on minimally invasive and non-invasive cosmetic procedures including botulinum injection (Botox and Dysport), dermal fillers (Juvederm, Restylane, Radiesse), laser hair removal, chemical peels, and laser skin rejuvenation. Dr. Soni believes in a more conservative approach and his first goal is education. Clients are able to determine the ideal treatments after discussion with Dr. Soni regarding the expected outcomes, cost, as well as risks.

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