Facial fillers continue to increase in popularity for many reasons, such as being a nonsurgical office treatment via local anesthesia and minimal downtime. Facial fillers are second only to Botox® for non-surgical facial cosmetic treatments. Injections of Botox and facial fillers are performed by all cosmetic specialists, including dermatologists, plastic surgeons, ophthalmologists, and facial plastic surgeons, while surgical procedures are performed by a smaller pool of physicians.
Sometimes, however, a patient wants the facial filler to be reversed or removed. Hyaluronidase injections are used to reduce or remove hyaluronic acid fillers. Treatment with hyaluronidase speeds the natural breakdown of these types of fillers.
As a facial cosmetic specialist, Dr. Chaboki has patients referred to him by other dermatologists, ophthalmologists, and plastic surgeons for filler reversal. He first performs a consultation and then determines if reversal is an appropriate option. For many patients, waiting an appropriate amount of time to allow normal swelling to subside resolves most cosmetic issues.
The most common reason patients want to reverse a filler is for an undesired cosmetic result. “Too much”, “too different”, “not what I expected”, “looks worse” are some aesthetic reasons filler patients want reversal. Other reasons may include asymmetry, lumps, bumps, granulomas, or nodules that are undesirable. Some patients also may develop a bluish appearance to the skin (i.e. Tyndall effect) from some fillers placed to superficially. Prolonged tissue swelling or reaction from fillers can be another reason to consider hyaluronidase.
What are facial fillers made of?
Facial fillers such as Juvederm®, Restylane®, and Belotero® are made of a material called hyaluronic acid (HA). HA is a natural component of the skin. HA fillers are a clear gel that softens facial wrinkles, augments lips, and enhances cheeks. HA fillers vary in their consistency, thickness, and longevity and are tailored for certain areas of the face. For example, Juvederm is very popular for lip injections.
Other fillers such as collagen injections, Radiesse®, and Sculptra® are made of other materials that cannot be reversed. Methods other than hyaluronidase are required to manage undesired results with these non-HA fillers.
What is hyaluronidase?
Hyaluronidase is a natural occurring enzyme in our tissue that modifies our own hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronidase injections are considered very safe and have been used for years for non-cosmetic purposes in medicine before being used in cosmetic surgery to reverse HA fillers. Hyaluronidase injections continue to be used to help speed the delivery or dispersion of other drugs. For example in ophthalmic surgery, surgeons use hyaluronidase mixed with local anesthesia to help the anesthesia spread farther.
The different trade names or brands of hyaluronidase include Hylenex®, Vitrase®, and Amphadase®, which all have the same molecule hyaluronidase.
How is the hyaluronidase treatment performed?
The technique of hyaluronidase treatment is very quick. A small needle is placed in the area of the previous HA filler for injection, whether it’s the cheeks, lips, nose, eyes, etc. Most patients don’t require pretreatment numbing. Any discomfort, bruising, or swelling is typically mild and short-term.
Results may be noticeable within minutes after hyaluronidase injection and continues to work with time. Repeat injections may be necessary to help dissolve all the filler as necessary. Injecting hyaluronidase is not known to permanently dissolve any appreciable naturally occurring HA in your own tissue. In addition, hyaluronidase may be injected at anytime after HA filler treatment, even months after the initial filler injection.
Hyaluronidase primarily works on dissolving HA from aesthetic treatments. It does not directly reduce or remove scar tissue, swelling, and non-HA fillers (ex. collagen, Radiesse, Sculptra).
Lastly, hyaluronidase injection is not exact science. Some or all of the HA filler may be removed with a single hyaluronidase treatment. For those who just want “a little excess HA filler removed” might have all of it dissolved by even a little hyaluronidase. Patients who have had thick HA fillers injection (ex. Voluma®) might need repeated hyaluronidase treatments to have all the filler removed.
You don’t have to live with the results of HA filler if you’re not happy. Lips that are too big, eyes that are too puffy, or cheeks that are lumpy after HA fillers can all be potentially treated with hyaluronidase. An injection with hyaluronidase is relatively easy and works quickly.
Further questions? Ask below or schedule a consultation with Dr. Chaboki.