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Dermal Fillers: Risks, Safety, and Potential Complications

Dermal fillers are increasing in popularity, with the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery estimating that more than one million people get dermal fillers a year. While dermal fillers can provide immense benefits, it’s important for all informed consumers to be aware of the risks, safety concerns, and potential complications.

Dermal Filler Side Effects

Below are some common side effects that those who receive dermal fillers can experience.

Swelling of the Treated Area

Swelling is a very common side effect of dermal fillers, and it may initially take up to three weeks to resolve. To reduce swelling, avoid exercising for, at minimum, 48 hours following dermal filler injection. It’s also important to avoid massaging the treated area after injection.

Bruising and Skin Discoloration

A typical side effect of needles or cannulas inserted under the skin is bruising, which can last one to two weeks before fading, while larger bruises may take a month or longer to heal. How soon bruising appears can also differ by case; for some, bruising may emerge right away, while for others, it appears several days after the treatment.

The skin under the eyes is very thin with increased vascular anatomy, so treatment in this area has a higher likelihood of bruising and skin discoloration. However, a topical cosmetic concealer can cover bruising in this area for those who wish to use it.

Lumps or Irregular Feeling

Dermal fillers feel firmer in some treated areas; this is normal and should not be massaged or manipulated immediately after treatment. The feeling of these lumps or bumps often improves within 2-4 weeksHowever, after swelling has reduced if lumps are still present, they can be safely, massaged gently and frequently through the day to help the filler better integrate into the tissue. 


Most asymmetry cases are due to irregular swelling and should be given 3-4 weeks to subside before deciding if the asymmetry is due to filler.

Studies have also found that, after dermal filler injections, patients hyper analyze their face and notice asymmetries that had existed beforehand without notice.

Subtle Results

A full syringe of filler is often not enough to replace all volume, requiring additional filler treatments that offer a gradual approach. First-time dermal filler patients also lose the dermal filler correction faster than follow-up patients because filler builds up over time, creating a more lasting result.

Lip Dryness

Lips often become dry post-injection, but cool compresses (for no more than 15 minutes at a time) and Vaseline application can provide relief.

Itching Around Injection Location

It is common to have itching around the injection site for several days after treatment. However, itching accompanied by pain, warmth, redness, or additional swelling requires immediate notification to the clinic.

Possible Complications of Dermal Filler Injection

While the following complications can occur, they are very rare, and our dedicated team at Weight Loss and Vitality works diligently to prevent these complications.

Possible complications of dermal filler injections include:

Dermal fillers offer an excellent way to restore volume to the body, but as with all medical procedures, it is important to be aware of the side effects (and how to manage them) and potential complications. If you are interested in dermal fillers, book an appointment with our team online or on the phone today.

David J. Bauder, PA-C David Bauder, PA-C, is a certified physician assistant and the medical director at Weight Loss and Vitality in Alexandria, Virginia, and Washington, DC. He enjoys helping patients optimize their physical and mental health to improve their overall well-being. He earned his physician assistant degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Afterward, he gained admission into the reputable graduate program for physician assistant studies at the University of Nebraska Health Science Center in Omaha. David has over 25 years of experience working as a physician assistant. He’s practiced in podiatry, family medicine, emergency medicine, general surgery, urgent care, and functional medicine.

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