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When the pandemic became a reality this past spring, many of us said, “I can’t wait until there is a vaccine.” I believed then and continue to believe that a vaccine is critical for us to be able to move beyond this disease. However, now that a vaccine is available, many individuals are concerned about the side effects associated with the vaccine – one of which is the possibility of facial swelling in individuals who have a previous history of receiving facial fillers.

As a plastic surgeon who injects facial fillers and who has had fillers herself, I wanted to discuss this possibility in more detail as well as my own experience with the first dose of the vaccine which I received two weeks ago.

Fillers and the COVID Vaccine

The Aesthetic Society recently responded to reports that there had been rare reports of facial swelling in individuals who had received facial fillers in the past following the administration of the COVID vaccine. Most of these reactions have been mild – the swelling resolved with time and treatment with antihistamines, like Benadryl. In more severe cases, individuals required oral steroids or dissolution of the filler.

Before receiving my COVID vaccine, I had heard about these reports but hadn’t given much thought to them. As a physician, I understand that all procedures and medications that we perform have risks and benefits. Part of determining what is the right treatment plan for you is weighing these risks and benefits – for a treatment to be right for you, the benefits must outweigh the risks. I knew that any minor side effects would be worth it for me. The day that I received my first dose of the vaccine was bittersweet – I was excited to be finally receiving the vaccine and sad because my first child (dog or 4-legged child), Guinness, left this world. He was my baby and had been a loyal companion for 13 years.

Following the vaccination, I had a sore arm and generalized body aches which I treated with Tylenol. Within the first 48 hours, I also developed facial swelling. I had received fillers in August and September of this year. I treated the swelling with Benadryl and ice packs. The swelling resolved completely in about 5 days. I’m fortunate that I required no additional treatment.

Further Your Education about the COVID Vaccine

When discussing treatment plans with your physician – whether it is surgery, fillers, or a vaccination – one component of the discussion is the risks, benefits, and limitations of the proposed treatment. I don’t want these reports to dissuade people from undergoing vaccination; rather, I encourage you to consider the vaccination if it makes sense for you. My goal is to educate – by being more prepared regarding the possible outcomes, you will be better able to handle any reactions.

I will receive my second dose next week and am looking forward to it!

Creating Outcomes That Enhance Your Natural Beauty