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Dermal Fillers Dangers: What You Need To Know

Dermal fillers are a type of treatment done to enhance aging skin, similar to botox. The difference lies in the fact that dermal fillers are used to add volume to thinning skin owing to old age. The substance injected into the skin smoothens wrinkled lines around the mouth, cheeks and forehead, while botox freezes the muscles entirely and stiffens the region. The two treatments can be used either in combination or separately but are not the same and cannot be substituted for the other. 

Dermal fillers can last from anywhere between six months to two years depending on the type of filler utilized for the procedure. The three most common types of dermal fillers are Juvederm, Radiesse and Sculptra, which are manufactured by various companies that are used for specific functions with certain risks involved. 

According to information provided by Medical News Today, dermal fillers are made from different chemical compounds as they serve different structural needs in the skin. Hyaluronic acid is naturally found in the tissues of our skin and calcium hydroxylapatite is a mineral/compound that is present in the bones. On the other hand, Polylactic acid is a synthetic substance that stimulates the production of collagen; the process of adding volumes is a gradual one. 

While Polyalkylimide is a transparent gel that is a temporary filler absorbed by the body easily with some potential dangers such as the formation of lumps and becoming visible under the skin. A blogpost in Harvard Health Publishing recommends seeing a certified cosmetic surgeon or a dermatologist who have a deep understanding of the facial anatomy and the different techniques involved with different injections. 

A dermal injection given the wrong way can have severe consequences such as the death of skin cells and even lead to blindness by bursting of blood vessels near the eyes. Since dermal fillers are expensive, some people resort to purchasing them on the blackmarket online at much cheaper prices. The Food and Drugs Administration ( FDA) has warned consumers against purchasing them online as they could be contaminated and dangerous to health.  

Unlicensed dermal fillers should be avoided and patients should check if they are FDA approved, they warned. Do not undergo the treatment in non-medical settings, especially in the privacy of someone’s hotel room or home, the agency said. 

The FDA further warns against using fillers on the parts of the body that it has not approved for usage, especially on the butt and breasts.  “NEVER get any type of filler or liquid silicone injected for body contouring. This means you should never get breast fillers, “butt” fillers, or fillers for spaces between your muscles. These products, which include certain types of injectable silicone, can be dangerous and can cause serious injury and even death,” reads a warning on the FDA’s website. 

Researchers at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School reviewed cases of complications arising from the use of dermal fillers in the FDA’s database, Manufacturer and User Facility Device Experience (MAUDE), that records such incidents annually. One of the authors, Boris Pashkover, said in an interview that it is rare that using fillers lead to life threatening diseases, but he acknowledged there are some complications nonetheless. 

The authors of the paper published in 2018 went through 5,024 individual cases and grouped them according to similar symptoms and conditions. The results of the intensive categorization were: “The most common complications associated with aesthetic dermal filler use were nodule formation (2,952 cases), infection (2,575 cases), inflammation (711 cases), allergic complications (594 cases), and vascular complications (590 cases),” the study read. 

The researchers further grouped them under the types of dermal fillers used to cause the side effects. “The most common fillers associated with an adverse event were Juvederm Voluma XC (1,050 cases), Sculptra (879 cases), and Radiesse (620 cases).”

These researchers told WebMD in an old article that this data from MAUDE is reported by healthcare patients and doctors alike, but yet there is no verification procedure to check for accuracy and follow up on their medical claims in detail. 

plastic surgery Dermal fillers do come with certain complications. The FDA advises going to a certified plastic surgeon or dermatologist who use FDA approved injections for the procedure. Photo courtesy of Youtube screenshot