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Side Effects of Facial Fillers

As you age, your skin loses some of its natural elasticity. The result is fine lines and wrinkles that gradually deepen over time. Fortunately, you don’t have to go under to knife to reduce the appearance of aging. Injectable facial fillers, such as Botox and Restylene, minimize wrinkles in many individuals without the long recovery time a face lift requires. Most dermal fillers only provide a temporary solution for wrinkles and usually last from six months to one year. Permanent facial implants, however, are available. Like all medical procedures, injectable and permanent dermal fillers carry a risk of side effects.

Redness and Swelling

Redness and swelling at the site of the injection is normal and will usually abate after several hours. After receiving facial injections of a filler material, you may use cosmetics to help hide the redness until it subsides. If you opt for permanent facial implants as filler material, however, the redness and swelling you experience after the procedure may last for much longer. Patients may experience swelling for several days or weeks after receiving permanent implants and should apply cold compresses to ease the irritation.


Some dermal fillers, such as Botox and Myobloc, are composed of purified botulism toxin. When injected, botulism toxin causes temporary and minor muscle paralysis at the injection site which alleviates skin creasing. In some cases, however, the toxin can travel to other areas of the body and cause serious health problems. Botulism toxin could travel to the respiratory muscles. The resulting difficulty swallowing could result in patients aspirating food or liquids into their lungs and developing pneumonia.


Your plastic surgeon may be an artist at his craft, but your own biology and the type of filler material you choose partially determines how the dermal filler settles beneath your skin. If you opt for a hyaluronic acid-based filling product, such as Restylane, you may experience lumpiness in and around the injection site and feel the filler product beneath your skin when you touch your face. This effect usually, but not always, subsides over time. In addition, hyaluronic acid-based fillers may migrate from the original injection site to other areas of your face.

Skin Cell Death

Skin cell death is a rare side effect of dermal fillers that occurs in some patients. This may occur if the skin or other tissues suffer significant damage during the procedure or if an infection develops following treatment. Skin cell death is most likely when dermal fillers are used to fill in skin around the lips and in the center of the forehead. Skin cell death may lead to scarring and require additional surgery.