The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in many ways, and affected all our lives. The advent of vaccines has given us all hope for the future and the return of "normal" life, but they have not been completely without complications.
Early on in the rollout of the COVID vaccines in December 2020, there were some early reports of facial and lip swelling, particularly in females, after they had received their vaccine. All these women who experienced these side effects had reportedly received facial fillers before being immunized.
In the initial studies of the Moderna vaccine trials, there were 3 women out of the total participants of 15,184 who developed facial or lip swelling after the vaccine was administered, and in the areas where filler had been previously injected. The occurrence percentage was 0.02%, which is obviously very low, but further study and precautions were recommended.
As a result of these cases, plus six others during the initial rollout of the vaccine in California, the International Society for Dermatologic and Aesthetic Surgery (ISDS) performed a global multi-center study. This analysis involved doctors who perform Aesthetic Medicine in over 50 countries.
The purpose of ISDS's study was to assess the occurrence and location of adverse reactions following soft tissue filler injections during or after either a positive COVID test or during or after one of the COVID vaccines. As defined by the research team, adverse reactions were any swelling, itchiness, redness, and/or pain lasting more than 2 days.
Any brand of filler that was injected into any area of the face was included in the survey. The survey study was based on anonymous self-reporting with participants from 18 different countries and 91% female.
When the results were tabulated, the reactions were found to be rare and were characterized as delayed inflammatory reactions. In fact, these reactions were found to be not much greater than similar reactions in the pre-COVID era.
However, this study has not completely concluded. As more people receive COVID vaccinations globally, this study will continue to collect data related to any associations between soft tissue fillers and COVID-19 itself or COVID vaccines.
Based on this current data, it is presently recommended that the timing between soft tissue filler injections and COVID vaccination should be considered in scheduling. All soft tissue fillers should be delayed until at least 2 weeks after the final vaccine dose.
Since this two-week moratarium has been widely accepted and implemented, reports of these filler reactions after COVID vaccinations have dropped precipitiously. Remember, also that this two-week waiting period window only applies to fillers such as Juvederm, and does not apply to Botox, CoolSculpting, microneedling, or laser treatments.
We hope this information helps answer any lingering questions about fillers, COVID vaccinations and safety. We urge you all to get vaccinated for your sake and that of your family and American society in general. Be safe.