Facial fillers like Restylane, Juvéderm, and Perlane are proven and effective ways to restore fullness and vibrancy to ageing skin. Their effects are immediate and can be long-lasting; some fillers even promote the development of new collagen, the tissue that fillers are designed to replace. Best of all, fillers do not require surgery, just a simple injection.
But fillers can be tricky. As fillers become more popular and injection services offered by more and more practitioners, some of them inexperienced, more patients are reporting problems with over injection. Fortunately, a few simple precautions can keep you from joining their number.
Choosing the right practitioner for a facial filler treatment
When facial fillers were first introduced, they were injected only by plastic surgeons. Over the years, as the materials, equipment, and techniques used to inject filler became more standardized, the range of practitioners allowed to perform the procedure has expanded.
These days, nurses commonly inject patients; aestheticians and even dentists frequently offer facial-filler treatment as well. This makes it all the more important to ensure that a patient’s chosen practitioner has the training and experience necessary to exercise proper care and judgment.
Injectors who claim always to use a certain number of syringes or a certain amount of filler for each patient may not be worth the trouble. Too-standardized an approach can help keep a clinic running efficiently, but it’s no way to treat the specific needs of each patient. Likewise, practitioners who urge patients to use more filler than they are comfortable with. Patients can always return for more treatment; overfills are a much more serious problem than incomplete results.
Talk with your practitioner
Patients are ultimately responsible for the scope of their treatments. Some facial-filler practitioners advise overly aggressive treatment; some simply aren’t experienced enough to know how much filler is too much for a given patient. Some experienced practitioners have a single preferred way of approaching each patient’s case and may aim for a certain look.
Subtle changes, responsive to each patient’s needs and goals, are always best. Even small excesses of facial filler can alter a face’s character for the worse, rather than simply restoring its youthful appearance. Patients should insist on subtle applications of filler and are well advised to ask for a hand mirror, or even to bring one along, to be sure that their instructions are being followed.
When facial fillers go wrong
Most facial fillers, including Restylane, Juvéderm, and Perlane, are based on hyaluronic acid. When the filler is applied incorrectly or too heavily, an antidote of sorts, hyaluronidase, can neutralize its effects. Hyaluronidase actually breaks down the original filler and allows it to be safely absorbed by the body, so it negates the effects of the original treatment, but it’s a handy eraser for filling jobs gone wrong.
Some fillers, including Radiesse and Sculptra, are based on other compounds and have no similar antidote. When these are applied too heavily, the only answer is to wait for them to settle in and begin to break down.
When to seek medical help for facial fillers
Poor facial-filler jobs usually have only aesthetic consequences. In some cases, though, they can become real medical issues.
If you experience changes to your vision, lingering pain, whitened skin near the injection site, or stroke-like symptoms, you should immediately seek the attention of a qualified medical doctor.