How Safe Are Facial Fillers? New Study Reviews Over 2,000 Injections

Posted: April 23, 2015

Side effects were rare with facial fillers in recent study.

Three injectable soft-tissue fillers designed to reduce facial wrinkles and lines and provide a more youthful, fresher appearance have been deemed to be safe, according to a recent study in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery.

before-after-restylane.jpg
Before and After Restylane
Photo courtesy of Q-Med

Over a five-year period, researchers reviewed data on 2,089 office-based injections for these so-called liquid facelifts.

The study included:

  • 1,047 injections of hyaluronic acid (brand names Juvederm, Restylane, Puragen, Captique, Esthélis, Elevess, Hylaform, Perlane and Prevelle)
  • 811 with poly-L-lactic acid (known as Sculptra)
  • 231 with calcium hydroxylapatite (Radiesse).

Complications were found in only 14 cases, with the lowest number (0.2 percent) occurring in patients treated with hyaluronic acid. The complication rate was intermediate with poly-L-lactic acid (0.7 percent), and highest with calcium hydroxylapatite (2.6 percent).

Silicone was excluded because of its potentially devastating consequences in these types of treatments, according to the authors. They also cautioned that, when complications such as infection, fibrotic nodules, granular formations and others do occur, physicians must be thorough in recognizing and managing them.

Additionally the authors expressed some concern that patients might not have understood the symptoms of complications, failed to follow up with their physicians or even perhaps sought care with another doctor.

Nevertheless, “injectable fillers are a versatile solution for patients seeking facial rejuvenation without the downtime of surgery,” observed co-author Steven M. Daines MD of Newport Beach, California. “When administered by a trained practitioner, filler treatments are extremely safe and most complications are minor and can be managed without long-term side effects.”