Covid and Injectables

Covid and Injectables

There has been significant fanfare on news media regarding dermal filler therapy and COVID-19 vaccinations.

Specifically, there was a report that patients with dermal fillers experience swelling following vaccination for COVID-19.  As with many things in 2020/2021, the emotions of this report have largely overshadowed the facts.  Here are the facts:

There are two vaccines currently available for COVID-19 in the world:

Both of these vaccines are FDA approved for EUA, or emergency use authorization.  Prior to their approval and distribution, both of these vaccines went through an arduous approval process that clearly shows both are effective in protecting the population for severe COVID-19 induced illness.  In this process, both showed efficacy in over 94% of the population treated in creating immunity to coronavirus-induced critical disease.  Notably, Astra Zeneca® will also be releasing a vaccine in the near future as well.

This landmark advance in medicine to me is nothing short of amazing.  To create a shockingly effective, and safe vaccine within 14 months for a chimeric, messenger RNA virus, is nothing short of superhuman.  I am literally in awe of the men and women who accomplished this remarkable feat, and not just the nameless Ph.D.’s, virologists, and graduate students.  But to everyone.  The environmental service people who came to work despite the risks, the support staff for the laboratories, the families of the researchers who sacrificed time with their loved ones, and the administrators and business staff, and the lawmakers, everyone.  There are so many layers to that onion.  Take a moment to soak that in.  It will give you hope for our shared future.

Beyond this remarkable, quantum leap forward, there is a report of facial swelling following vaccination in patients with dermal fillers.  This report is both accurate, but misleading.  Of the two vaccines in play, only Moderna showed this effect.  Pfizer had no report of this effect whatsoever.  In other words, there is no relationship between the Pfizer® vaccine and facial swelling in dermal filler patients.

Regarding the Moderna vaccine, there were isolated reports of facial swelling.  Their FDA study enrolled 30,350 patients.  Of those 30,350 patients, THREE had reports of facial swelling following their initial dose of the Moderna vaccine.  This gives it an incidence of 0.009%!!  Further, all three patients who developed swelling spontaneously resolved with over the counter medications within 2-3 days.

What does this mean?

It means that swelling can occur with Moderna® vaccination, but if it does, it is incredibly uncommon, and the swelling will resolve within a short period of time.  Notably,  all three of these patients received hyaluronic acid based fillers, which are the most common type of dermal filler used.  Translating all of this into a final conclusion:

  • Facial swelling after vaccination is not a threatening, or really even a largely concerning issue. It is more akin to an interesting anecdote rather than earth-shattering news.
  • Dermal fillers are, and will continue to be, safe and effective in patients of all ages and sizes.
  • Vaccination against COVID-19 is the fastest route back to normalcy for ourselves and our families. Do not let the presence of facial fillers deter you from getting vaccinated.
  • If you have been vaccinated with Moderna®, you are still able to safely receive dermal fillers.

We will continue to monitor this event at Ocean Drive® as vaccinations continue.  For now, however, rest assured that vaccination with Moderna® is safe, and dermal filler therapy is still a safe mainstay of aesthetic plastic surgery of the face and body.

Alan Durkin

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