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Facial Fillers & The COVID-19 Vaccine4 min read

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Dr. Phillip Chang

Board Certified By The American Board of Plastic Surgeons.
Voted Top Plastic Surgeon in Loudoun, Virginia
Offices in Leesburg, Virginia.

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The much-expected release of an effective vaccine against COVID-19 has finally arrived. People are rejoicing that several pharmaceutical companies and research labs have developed and begun to distribute vaccines against COVID-19 on a large scale.

Amidst this general sentiment of happiness and excitement, patients who underwent facial filler procedures are having second thoughts about undergoing vaccination right away. Are their concerns well-founded? Should they postpone getting vaccinated? Today’s blog aims at clarifying these pressing questions.

Facial Fillers & the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine

The FDA underwent several studies on the new Moderna vaccine and subsequently published its results in the Efficacy and Safety of Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Review. In the Adverse Effects section, the document mentions the cases of three subjects who have developed allergic reactions (i. e., facial swelling) to the serum. In each of these cases, the subject had undergone a facial filler procedure.

The news began to worry people who had received such facial rejuvenation treatments to either smooth wrinkles or plump their lips. That should not surprise us, since practitioners all across the US performed approx. 2.7 million soft tissue filler procedures in 2019 alone.

Because the number of people who consider facial fillers is on the rise, the general concern seems to be well-founded. However, medical experts affirm that side effects linked to these facial fillers, since they are mild and only occur in rare instances, should not become a deterrent from getting vaccinated.

Adverse Reactions are Immunological

Several members of the medical community welcomed facial swelling as proof of the Moderna vaccine effectiveness by triggering an immune system response. Since the latter’s role is to respond promptly to substances recognized as foreign to the body, the fact that the three subjects have developed adverse reactions to the serum should not surprise us.

Furthermore, the adverse reaction was localized to the area where the facial filler had been delivered (i. e., the lip, and the cheek) without affecting other body areas.

If we follow this line of thought, the immune system reacts in the same way when patients undergo facial filler procedures – they experience mild swelling for a few days following the procedure.

Medical experts explain the adverse reaction to the Moderna vaccine by pointing at the hyperactive state of the immune system, which sees both the serum and the facial filler as foreign bodies without discrimination. Moreover, once the serum works its effects, the adverse reaction gradually disappears.

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Only a Small Percentage of Patients are Affected

Aside from looking at the immunological aspects of the serum, medical experts have observed the following fact: the percentage of subjects who had undergone facial filler procedures and developed adverse reactions after the administration of the Moderna serum, out of the 30,000 member trial, is extremely small – 0.01%!

Furthermore, medical experts found no difference between subjects who underwent facial filler procedures shortly before getting vaccinated or months prior.

Perhaps the most encouraging news coming from the Moderna serum trials is that none of the three subjects required an Epinephrine autoinjector (EpiPen) administered or hospitalization. The adverse reactions were mild and never considered life-threatening. Moreover, none of these subjects reported long-term complications after receiving the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

As a result, facial swelling should not become a deterrent from getting vaccinated for people who underwent facial rejuvenation treatments in the past.

Facial Swelling is not Vaccine-Specific

Until this date, facial swelling was seen only in patients who received the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. No such cases have been reported after the administration of different serums, such as the one produced by Pfizer-BioNTech.

However, medical experts are advising us to rest assured – similar adverse effects were reported in the past after the administration of other vaccines, such as the flu or shingles vaccine. As a result, the facial swelling cases linked to the Moderna serum should not lead people to prefer other vaccines available on the market.

Choose to Get Vaccinated

Overall, patients with a history of dermal fillers should not refrain from getting vaccinated when possible. The risk of developing a mild adverse reaction is outweighed by the possibility of contracting and developing a severe form of COVID-19 disease. However, make sure that you disclose any information linked to past allergic reactions to your doctor before getting vaccinated.

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Want to learn more about facial fillers?

We invite you to simply come in for a complimentary consultation with Dr. Chang or one of the cosmetic laser and injection nurses to explore whether you would make a good candidate. To find out more whether Aesthetica can help you, contact us online or at 703-729-5553 to arrange an appointment. Dr. Phillip Chang is a board-certified plastic surgeon in Northern Virginia near Leesburg, Virginia and an expert in a wide variety of cosmetic treatments.

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