what you need to know about covid-19 vaccines and dermal fillers

How long should you wait after your Covid-19 vaccine
to have dermal filler injections?

We are now planning once again to start providing cosmetic treatments, including injections of dermal fillers and botulinum toxin (Botox). Better still, we are doing this while the Covid-19 (SARS-Cov-2) vaccination program in the UK is ongoing and is among the most successful vaccination programs in the world.

Getting vaccinated is, of course, the priority. And as always when planning cosmetic treatment, safety remains my number one concern.

You have probably heard about unwanted side effects with dermal fillers after some of the COVID-19 vaccines, such as facial swelling and inflammation of areas treated with dermal fillers following vaccination. These are rare, but they have been reported.

What we already know from experience with other vaccines and fillers:

Such reactions and side effects after dermal filler injections are not new at all. They are well known to occur when dermal filler treatments are done while the body’s immune system is more active than normal; usually when the immune system is stimulated, whether it is by a vaccine, a viral infection or by “friendly-fire” conditions like auto-immunity. It is also known that our immune system, when stimulated by infection or vaccination, can attack implants and fillers that have been in place for some time before.

The reason we are talking about it more now is because of the vital new vaccination program that is under way for Covid-19. Here, I will talk you through how you may plan your dermal filler injectable treatments in order to minimise the risk of adverse effects or reactions while you have both doses of your Covid-19 vaccine.

The following are some common questions about dermal fillers and COVID-19 vaccines

Not all of us would have asked all these questions. But most of us would have either read reports or wondered any of these could apply to us.

At this time, I would say yes, if you had any vaccine (or infection) within a short time of having dermal filler injection. And vice versa (having filler within a short time of having a vaccine). While reactions like this could seem rather scary in the first instance, if we think about it, it is certainly not limited to dermal fillers, or even to vaccines.

We have known for years that it is unsafe to carry out injectable treatments when there is a chance of infection or inflammation. This is all the more true when we are planning for non-essential or purely cosmetic treatment.

If you are one of my patients reading this, you probably remember the discussion we had before planning your dermal filler treatments, and also when you were going through the consent process. You were asked about whether you are planning to have any dental procedures like implants, root canal treatments, whether you are on any antibiotics for infections elsewhere in your body – and if so, we would have deferred the filler treatment to a time when you were not on any such treatment.

The reason for this, is how our immune system reacts to any foreign substance it encounters: it tries to reject it. Fillers by definition are foreign substances.

If we are currently fighting an infection, there is an increase in number and activity of active immune cells and mediators circulating in our systems. Having a vaccination produces the same stimulation of our immune system (but without the actual infection).

If you have a filler injection at this time, you are more likely to have an immune response to the filler. This response or reaction shows up as swelling, redness, pain and tenderness over the filler. Sometimes the filler forms “nodules” that could be red, hot and tender (inflammatory).

So, the answer is yes, you must plan your injectable treatment safely.

Other than what we know about human physiology, the immune response, and specific properties of fillers, we do not know enough to advise on this with certainty. General safety principles would suggest that we separate the procedures.

We have known for many years that the human body will reject that which is not “self”. Fillers are not “sel