Here’s what you need to know about dermal fillers and the COVID-19 vaccine
As the only North American medical board devoted exclusively to facial cosmetic surgery, our ears perked up when we heard that Moderna’s new COVID-19 vaccine was linked to swelling in patients with dermal fillers. We weren’t surprised by this news, as swelling is one of the most common side effects of any vaccine, next to a rise in body temperature. We did, however, want to take this opportunity to explain the science behind why vaccines can cause facial fillers to swell, and why this reaction shouldn’t keep you from getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
How common is dermal filler swelling in patients who have the COVID-19 vaccine?
Before we dive into the science, it’s important to understand that although it is a potential risk, it is extremely rare for patients to experience swelling around their dermal fillers after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. In the FDA’s clinical COVID vaccine trial in which swelling among dermal filler patients was first noted, only 3 out of 15,184 participants experienced this side effect, and in all 3 cases, the swelling was localized and either resolved itself without intervention or with antihistamines and/or steroids.
Why can the COVID-19 vaccine cause dermal fillers to swell?
Now for the science. When our immune system senses a pathogen (a disease-causing organism), it attempts to dispel it, causing inflammation. And because our immune system goes into overdrive producing antibodies to fight the new pathogen, it is also normal to experience inflammation around any sort of medical implant in our body, including dermal fillers. In other words, temporary swelling around dermal fillers shows that the vaccine is safely and effectively triggering an immune system response in your body.
Can the COVID-19 vaccine cause all dermal fillers to swell, or just certain kinds?
Dermal fillers are either made of hyaluronic acid, calcium hydroxylapatite, polylactic acid, or polymethyl-methacrylate microspheres (PMMA). Because all of these formulas sit under the skin for the duration of their lifetimes (6 to 12 months for hyaluronic acid- and calcium hydroxylapatite-based fillers, 2+ years for polylactic acid-based, and up to 5 years for PMMA-based), they are all subject to some degree of temporary swelling.
What about Botox?
There is no risk of swelling in patients who have received neurotoxin injections such as BOTOX® and Dysport® because unlike dermal fillers, neurotoxins don’t remain under the skin after they’re injected. The main difference between these two injectables is that neurotoxins are used to temporarily paralyze facial muscles, while dermal fillers provide volume with a substance that takes time to absorb.
How long should I wait after my vaccine before getting dermal fillers?
While there are no official guidelines from the CDC or FDA regarding how long you should wait to have facial fillers after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, we recommend patients avoid any type of cosmetic surgery, including dermal filler injections, for at least two weeks after their final dose of the vaccine. For most people, two weeks is enough time for the immune system to stabilize and the body to be ready for the vaccine.
Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I’ve had facial fillers?
If you are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, we absolutely recommend that you receive it, even if you’ve recently had dermal fillers. If you do experience swelling around your fillers, this side effect is temporary, usually minor, easily treatable, and carries no long-term complications. Ultimately, the benefits of receiving the vaccine far outweigh the risks of experiencing temporary swelling around your fillers.
About the American Board of Facial Cosmetic Surgery
The American Board of Facial Cosmetic Surgery (ABFCS) is the preeminent medical credentialing body for facial cosmetic surgery in North America, certifying that our diplomates have the education and experience necessary to perform cosmetic facial procedures at the top of their profession. From treating the skin and underlying tissues to the facial skeleton, ABFCS diplomates have a deep understanding of the human anatomy and can quickly assess and treat their patients’ unique cosmetic concerns. To learn more about becoming an ABFCS diplomate, contact us online or call (312) 340-4788.