What you need to know about Dermal Fillers and the COVID-19 Vaccine
The COVID vaccine may cause facial swelling in people with a recent history of dermal fillers. This complication appears to be rare, localized, and temporary without any long-term consequences. There are currently two COVID vaccines authorized by the FDA for use in the US, produced by Pfizer and Moderna. Both companies conducted large randomized controlled trials to evaluate the efficacy and side effects of the vaccines. In the Moderna trial, 3 patients who had filler treatment within the past 6 months, out of 30,500 subjects, developed severe facial swelling. In all patients, the swelling was localized to the area treated with fillers and temporary. Patients were treated with antihistamines (like Benadryl) and steroids (like prednisone) and quickly had complete resolution of their symptoms. In the Pfizer trial, which included 43,500 participants, there were no such adverse outcomes reported. Similar swelling has been noted in filler patients with other vaccines, including the influenza vaccine, and is not unique to the COVID vaccine.
We treat a large number of medical providers in our practice including MDs and RNs, many of whom have been vaccinated for COVID. Thus far, none of our patients has reported any facial swelling after vaccination. Our knowledge is constantly evolving. While we have limited information from the Moderna and Pfizer trials, we will soon have significantly more data points as our frontline workers all across the country are vaccinated.
Should I get the COVID vaccine if I recently had a dermal filler treatment?
Absolutely. If you have an opportunity to receive the COVID vaccine, the potential benefits significantly outweigh the risk of facial swelling. The vaccine not only can save your life but also the lives of others who you have contact with.
How long after receiving the COVID vaccine do I need to wait for a filler treatment?
Our practice recommends waiting at least 1 week after the second dose of the vaccine to receive your lip filler or facial filler treatment. Those who have received the vaccine have a more robust immune response after the second dose of the vaccine, with symptoms including fevers and malaise that last for several days after vaccination. While we don’t yet know the ideal timeframe for delaying filler treatment after the vaccine, it is probably best to wait until after the immune response has subsided and these symptoms have resolved.
What should I do if I have facial swelling related to previous filler after the COVID vaccine?
We urge any patient with symptoms to return immediately to the medical practice where the filler was placed to be evaluated and treated. Your medical provider will mostly likely start antihistamine and/or steroid treatment. With proper treatment, the swelling is expected to resolve quickly.
Are there any alternatives to filler if I’m getting the COVID vaccine?
In the Moderna trial, facial swelling was associated only with history of hyaluronic acid (HA) filler and not other facial volumization procedures. Platelet-rich fibrin (PRF) and facial fat grafting are alternatives to HA filler that utilize your own tissue and have not been associated with facial swelling after COVID vaccination.
Dr. Alexandra Schmidt is a fellowship trained, board-certified plastic surgeon practicing in Raleigh, NC. Dr. Schmidt has been described as the Best Female Plastic Surgeon in North Carolina in many patient reviews. Dr. Schmidt performs aesthetic surgery of the face an body with a special emphasis on very natural looking results with a comfortable and rapid recovery. Patient safety and privacy are Dr. Schmidt’s highest priorities.