Lip injections are usually safe, but there can still be complications, even with experienced professionals.
One of the most serious risks is accidentally injecting the dermal filler into a blood vessel. What happens when filler enters the vascular system, and how dangerous is it?
Let’s look at the consequences, symptoms, and treatments for this rare but potentially serious complication.
When lip filler is inadvertently injected into a blood vessel, it can trigger a series of urgent and concerning reactions:
Pain, swelling, and bruising are common after lip injections, but the suddenness and severity of these symptoms may indicate a vascular complication, requiring immediate medical attention.
An accidental injection of filler into a blood vessel is a critical medical emergency due to the severe risks and potential for permanent damage. Immediate medical intervention is essential to prevent lasting harm.
When filler material obstructs small blood vessels, it disrupts the normal blood flow to the lips. This blockage, known as vascular occlusion, leads to ischemia, a state where tissues are starved of oxygen.
Prolonged oxygen deprivation results in cell damage and death, potentially causing tissue necrosis. This may result in enduring scarring or disfigurement of the lips, underscoring the critical nature of the situation.
Although less common, there’s a risk that the facial filler material might enter the bloodstream and travel to vital organs such as the brain, heart, or lungs. In these locations, it can cause an embolism—a blockage that may trigger life-threatening conditions like a stroke or heart attack.
Lip fillers, though rarely, can cause blindness when injected into the superior labial artery. This risk stems from the artery’s connection to the orbital blood supply, including the retinal artery. The superior labial artery is located superficially at the wet-dry mucosal junction of the upper lip, a common site for injections.
The critical nature of these risks underscores the necessity of promptly dissolving the injected filler and restoring proper blood flow. Delaying treatment increases the risk of severe, irreversible damage to the lips, face, and even systemic health.
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In the event of a vascular complication during lip filler injections, immediate action is crucial to restore proper circulation. Your provider will typically follow these steps:
The first step involves a careful examination of the lips to identify signs of occlusion. This includes comparing the affected side with the unaffected one to detect any asymmetries.
This enzyme is injected to rapidly break down the filler material. Multiple doses might be necessary to fully dissolve any occlusions.
The area is treated with warm compresses and massage, and circulation is closely monitored for several hours. Topical nitroglycerin may also be used to improve blood flow.
Oral medications are often prescribed to combat ischemia, alleviate swelling, and avert tissue death.
Additionally, if the filler is not composed of hyaluronic acid (HA) or if hyaluronidase (the enzyme used to dissolve HA fillers) proves ineffective, surgical intervention may become necessary.
This surgical approach is aimed at removing the filler material and restoring normal blood flow, thereby preventing further damage.
Regular check-ups in the following week are essential to ensure that the swelling subsides and there are no permanent scars or deformities.
Seek emergency care immediately if vascular occlusion is suspected. Restoring blood flow swiftly, ideally within 1-2 hours, is key to preventing lasting damage. Even a day’s delay can result in irreversible consequences.
With timely and appropriate intervention, most cases without tissue death can resolve completely as the filler naturally dissipates. However, severe cases can lead to permanent damage, underscoring the importance of prompt action.
By combining informed choices, careful techniques, and clear communication between a knowledgeable patient and a skilled injector, most complications, like accidental filler injection into blood vessels, can be averted. An immediate response to any symptoms is vital for the best outcomes.
When filler material accidentally enters a blood vessel during injection, it can lead to vascular occlusion. This blockage prevents oxygen and nutrients from reaching the tissue, potentially causing severe complications like skin necrosis, where tissue death occurs due to a lack of blood flow.
Though extremely rare, there’s a small risk that vascular occlusion caused by dermal fillers could lead to blood clot formation. If such a clot travels to the heart, it could potentially trigger a heart attack. This scenario is more likely if the filler is injected directly into a blood vessel.
Bruising is a common side effect, with about 67% of patients experiencing it to some degree. The extent and duration can vary, ranging from mild, short-lived bruising to more pronounced bruising lasting several weeks.
Yes, injecting filler into a blood vessel can lead to a blockage, potentially causing a blood clot. This rare but serious complication, known as vascular occlusion, can have significant health consequences if the clot travels to other body parts.
White spots or discoloration post-injection can indicate blanching, caused by interrupted blood supply to the skin. This may occur if the filler is injected too superficially or blocks a blood vessel, leading to pale or reddish skin tones.
Contact your healthcare provider immediately if you notice white spots or discoloration. These symptoms could signify a vascular occlusion, requiring urgent medical attention.
Typically, these spots or discolorations are temporary and resolve once the filler dissipates. However, permanent skin damage can occur in rare cases of vascular occlusion.
Get on your lip filler journey with the expert care of Dr. Hardik Soni at Ethos Aesthetics & Wellness in New Jersey – your partner in achieving beautiful results without compromising safety.