Table of Contents
If you’re among the millions of people who have received lip fillers or other dermal fillers, you’ll know that they can be great for giving that extra boost of confidence, ironing out wrinkles or adding volume where you need it. But sometimes, cosmetic procedures don’t go exactly as planned. The results might not be quite what you envisioned, and this could be one of the reasons why you might choose to dissolve the fillers. Maybe your lips ended up a little too plump, or those laugh lines just don’t look natural any more. It’s totally okay to change your mind, and the beauty of most fillers is that they’re not permanent.
Here’s everything you need to know about dissolving dermal fillers so you can make an informed decision on whether this is the right choice for you.
Why are filler dissolving treatments becoming more popular?
Recent years have seen a surge in the popularity of fillers, with people using them to enhance their features. Combined with the rise of the “Celebrity Role Model” and “Social Media Influencers”, the trend for overfilling (particularly lips) has unfortunately become somewhat of the norm, resulting in unnatural looks, and giving rise to the terms duck lips, sausage lips, trout pout and pillow face.
The Risks Of Overfilling
So, who’s to blame? It’s not always an unscrupulous practitioner or an excessive treatment that leads to exaggerated results. Many people who have filler treatments forget what they looked like before and develop a sort of “filler blindness”. They believe that they’re in need of a top-up while the filler is still present, leading to an overfilled result.
Recently, however, I’m glad to see some influencers challenging that trend with some celebrities such as Charlotte Crosby, Faye Winter, and Simon Cowell putting a question mark over the value of excessive fillers.
The most common reasons for dissolving filler
1. Filler migration
Filler migration occurs when the cosmetic filler injected into your face begins to spread from its original position. This can happen due to several reasons, including lack of skills or knowledge in injection techniques, incorrect product use or frequent retreatment at short intervals. Filler migration also happens if too much product is used, resulting in an uneven appearance as it migrates away from where it’s been placed. You’ll most commonly find migration after excessive lip filler.
It’s important to be aware of the risk of filler migration so you can inform yourself before considering any type of aesthetic procedure.
2. Lumps and bumps
Occasionally, dermal fillers can create a bit of a hiccup – in the form of lumps or bumps. It’s like having unexpected speed bumps on a smooth road! Typically, they result from the filler not spreading evenly under the skin, but the good news is, most times, they resolve on their own over time. However, if they’re a bit more stubborn, and they don’t disappear on their own, then dissolving the filler can be a viable option.
2. Emergency Reversal
The journey to enhancing our looks using dermal fillers is generally very smooth. But, just like any trip, unexpected detours can occur, and sometimes, they can be urgent. Picture this: you’ve just had your fillers done, but then you start experiencing intense pain, discoloration, or a decrease in vision. These are all very rare, but they can happen, and when they do, they’re a sign of something serious, such as vascular occlusion, which is when the filler inadvertently enters a blood vessel. It’s critical to get in touch with your healthcare provider immediately.
Do fillers start to dissolve on their own?
Let’s begin by asking, “Does filler dissolve naturally?” Certainly, if we’re talking about hyaluronic acid filler.
Hyaluronic acid (HA) based dermal fillers are designed to gradually degrade over time depending on the thickness or molecular weight of each brand used. Generally speaking, thinner products will typically last between six and nine months while thicker HA fillers can last upwards of two years in some cases.
On the other hand, non-hyaluronic acid based fillers tend to last significantly longer than HA products because they are composed of calcium hydroxylapatite particles suspended in a water base solution. These particles remain intact until slowly broken down by macrophages in the skin over time; usually lasting around 12-18 months before needing any additional injection treatments.
Are all fillers are reversible?
The answer is both yes and no. Some dermal fillers can be dissolved with a special enzyme, while others cannot be reversed at all.
The most popular reversible filler is hyaluronic acid (HA), which makes up most injectable treatments available today. Hyaluronic acid filler brands such as Fillmed, Teoxane , Juvederm, Restylane and Belotero can be broken down by an enzyme called hyaluronidase (more on this below). Other types of temporary fillers like calcium hydroxylapatite and polymethylmethacrylate microspheres may also respond to this treatment if they cause adverse reactions or other complications.
What to do about non-HA fillers?
On the other hand, some permanent facial implants such as Gore-Tex and silicone cannot be reversed in any way once injected into the body. However, there are procedures that can help reduce their appearance over time. It’s important to discuss your options with a qualified practitioner before deciding on any type of procedure involving permanent facial implants.
What is hyaluronidase and how does it work?
Hyaluronidase is essentially an enzyme, kind of like a very specific set of scissors that can cut through hyaluronic acid which is the primary ingredient in many dermal fillers. So, when we talk about dissolving fillers, it’s hyaluronidase that’s our hero.
How does hyaluronidase work?
When injected into the area where the filler is, it breaks down the hyaluronic acid in the filler, helping to dissolve and absorb it into the body. It’s like a magic eraser for unwanted filler! This process can take anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days.
Is dissolving filler with hyaluronidase safe?
It’s important to note that it is safe to dissolve filler with hyaluronidase when performed by a healthcare professional with the required expertise, this is vital! But, even in the safest of hands, there are still a few possible concerns, depending on the treated location. The risks and adverse effects of dissolving fillers include:
- Bruising and or tenderness: Small bruises at the injection sites are the most common side effect. These typically fade within a few days.
- Swelling: You may experience some swelling at the injection points. This is usually minor and resolves within 24 to 48 hours.
- Redness: The injection site may appear red immediately after the treatment. This is a normal reaction and typically subsides within a few hours.
- Volume loss or skin laxity: In rare cases, hyaluronidase can dissolve your body’s natural hyaluronic acid along with the filler’s. This can lead to volume loss in areas where you didn’t want it.
- Allergic reaction: A small percentage of patients have been found to have an anaphylactic reaction to hyaluronidase which if untreated can have serious consequences. If you have a known allergy to bee or wasp stings then there is a chance that you may be allergy to hyaluronidase and would need to discuss this with your practitioner prior to considering filler treatments.
- Slight bleeding
Who can dissolve fillers?
Before we get into who can dissolve fillers it’s worth chatting briefly about who can inject fillers in the first place. There is currently no law in the UK that says you can’t do this, so ultimately anyone can train. Very scary!
In the UK, hyaluronidase (Hyalase) is prescription only medication. This means that in order to have this procedure carried out, you must first be seen by a prescribing practitioner (doctor, dentist or prescribing nurse) to ensure that you have a thorough consultation and your injector is confident this is the right thing for you.
Dissolving fillers can be a complicated procedure that requires experience and skill. The practitioner must carefully assess the patient’s needs and determine the amount and type of filler that needs to be removed. They must also consider the patient’s medical history and any potential risks associated with the procedure. An inexperienced practitioner or someone without the proper training could cause serious complications such as infection, scarring, or nerve damage.
The filler dissolving procedure: what to expect
Advice prior to treatment
Before you embark on your filler dissolving procedure, it’s important to have a comprehensive understanding of the process. Don’t be shy about asking your practitioner plenty of questions, and make sure to share your medical history to avoid any potential complications.
One key thing to remember is to steer clear of any medications that can thin your blood such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or vitamin E for at least a week prior to your treatment. These could potentially heighten the risk of bruising or bleeding during the procedure. It’s also a good idea to stay well-hydrated and maintain a healthy diet leading up to your appointment. Your skin reflects your overall health and nourishing it from the inside will enhance the healing process post-procedure.
On the Day
The procedure itself is typically quick and straightforward. The practitioner will use a tiny needle to inject hyaluronidase solution into the areas where the filler is located, then perform a gentle massage to the tissues to encourage the breakdown of the filler. . This enzyme breaks down the hyaluronic acid-based fillers, allowing them to dissolve and be naturally eliminated by your body. The sensation is like a slight pinch or sting, but topical numbing cream is often used to minimise any discomfort.
Advice post treatment
After a dermal filler dissolving treatment, it is crucial to follow proper aftercare instructions to minimise risk and ensure a smooth and speedy recovery. Your practitioner will typically provide detailed instructions on how to care for the treated area, which may include:
- Avoiding excessive heat or cold.
- Refraining from strenuous exercise (24-48 hours).
- Avoiding certain medications that could interfere with the healing process.
- Using ice packs to reduce swelling.
- Taking paracetamol to manage any discomfort.
- Using arnica cream or tablets to reduce bruising.
- Staying hydrated.
Be sure to research the clinic and practitioner who will be performing your injections, ask questions about their qualifications, experience level and technique they use when injecting fillers. Additionally, ensure they are using hyaluronic acid-based products which dissolve naturally over time instead of permanent ones that could cause more harm than good if not handled appropriately.
A note on mental health
Everybody considers their appearance. Low self-esteem frequently drives people to seek out aesthetic treatments like dermal fillers to make small adjustments that provide more body confidence. Yet, body dysmorphic disorder, a severe obsession with appearance, has been related to excessive cosmetic therapy (BDD). A disproportionate amount of time is spent stressing over insignificant or imagined imperfections by those with BDD. This can be really upsetting, therefore it’s not surprising that they try to repair the issue by using cosmetics.
To address this perceived issue, they switch practitioners, or their fears shift to another region of the face or body. Their ongoing attempt to correct the fault results in features that can end up deformed and overfilled.
Not everyone with overfilled features has BDD, however. After all, everyone has some degree of self-consciousness, and BDD is just the extreme. I frequently encounter patients who are thrilled with a filler procedure but soon forget how they looked before it. They return for another treatment because they want to see a more noticeable difference.
It’s easy to see how people’s faces can become overfilled, especially as fillers may last much longer than we think. The truth is that cosmetic filler procedures can be unpredictable. After all, everyone’s body reacts differently and sometimes results don’t turn out quite how we’d like them too.
Frequently Asked Questions
It’s natural to be a little apprehensive about the pain involved in dissolving fillers. But when done correctly and with a skilled practitioner, it is almost always a relatively comfortable experience.
The dissolving process involves an injection of hyaluronidase enzyme into the area where the filler was injected. The enzyme breaks down the hyaluronic acid molecules that make up most dermal fillers, allowing them to return to their original state with no traces remaining. Mild discomfort may occur during this procedure but generally speaking there should be minimal or no pain at all.
Your aesthetic practitioner will likely use ice packs or other forms of topical anaesthetic prior to administering the injections which can help reduce any potential soreness or stinging sensations from occurring afterwards. Furthermore, they can also recommend ways to keep you comfortable during treatment such as taking paracetamol or ibuprofen before your appointment if necessary.
If you’ve had dermal filler, you shouldn’t dissolve it for cosmetic reasons for at least 14 days after the first treatment. This is because swelling will make it hard for you to see the final result before then, and you may find that you are happier with the appearance once everything has settled.
When vascular damage happens after treatment with dermal fillers, Hyaluronidase can be given right away and shouldn’t be put off.
Once your aesthetic professional injects hyaluronidase to dissolve hyaluronic acid fillers, you can typically begin to see the effects within just a few hours. However, the complete dissolving process may take about 24 to 48 hours.
You’ll notice the swelling and fullness in the treated area start to go down gradually in that period. By the end of a couple of days, the treated area should revert to its pre-filler state. But remember, everyone’s body reacts differently. Some might see changes faster than others, while in some cases it might take a bit longer.
After a hyaluronidase injection, it’s important to wait a certain amount of time before getting new filler injections. The length of the waiting period varies depending on the type and amount of filler used. Generally speaking, here’s what to expect:
1. If you received hyaluronic acid-based dermal fillers, then you should wait at least two to six weeks for your body to fully metabolise the product and the surrounding tissues to heal before getting any more treatments.
2. Those who have had polylactic acid-based products will need to wait four to six months in order for their bodies to dissolve all traces of the substance before receiving subsequent treatments.
3. Products containing calcium hydroxylapatite composition requires an even longer (up to one year) resting period due to it taking much longer to be broken down by the body than other types of soft tissue filler materials.
No competent aesthetic professional would ever use fillers or Hyalase on a pregnant patient. It is also recommended that you avoid getting fillers or having existing fillers dissolved if you are breastfeeding.
No, you cannot dissolve your fillers at home. It is a medical procedure that should only be performed by an experienced and qualified professional in a sterile clinic environment. Some over-the-counter products may claim to reduce the appearance of dermal filler but they are not medically approved and could worsen the outcome or cause infection.
If you try this at home, you could end up with serious complications including a face infection or scars. At Aesthetics by Stephanie, I usually do an intradermal test before dissolving with hyaluronidase because of the remote possibility of hypersensitivity.
Generally, a patch test isn’t typically required before getting fillers dissolved. That’s because the substance most commonly used to dissolve hyaluronic acid-based fillers, hyaluronidase, is a naturally occurring enzyme in the body. This means that most people can tolerate the process without adverse effects.
But, just to be on the safe side, it’s always best to discuss any concerns or potential allergic reactions with your aesthetic practitioner. If you’ve had allergic reactions to medications in the past, a patch test might be a good idea.