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Should dermal fillers stop you from getting the COVID-19 vaccine?

By MARBBIE TAGABUCBA, The Philippine Star Published Jan 29, 2021 5:00 am Updated Jan 29, 2021 9:55 am

The life-saving COVID-19 vaccine has started rolling out in the past month, posing questions such as: 1) whether the side effects are worth it, and 2) which brand to choose?

Mild side effects such as headache, fatigue and pain at the injection site have been observed across all brands.

  A woman participates in the vaccine simulation in Mandaluyong City held at Pedro P Cruz Elementary School last January 27, 2021. Mandaluyong intends to vaccinate at least 500 patients per vaccine site. (Photo by Michael Varcas)

Temporary facial swelling is another side effect for vaccine recipients who have had prior dermal fillers.

Dermal fillers are jelly-like substances that are injected beneath the skin to restore lost volume, smooth lines and soften creases, or enhance contours, usually in the face; not to be confused with Botox, a popular brand of injectable wrinkle and muscle relaxer. The most popular fillers are made with hyaluronic acid, such as those by Juvéderm, since it naturally occurs in the body.

In Moderna’s Phase 3 trial made up of over 30,000 candidates, three people developed facial or lip swelling after they received the vaccine, according to US-FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee’s Review of Efficacy and Safety of ​Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine ​Emergency Use.

Two of those patients had prior dermal fillers in their cheeks within six months before vaccination. The third had received dermal filler in the lip two days after receiving the vaccine. All three patients are female, aged 46 to 51.

The COVID-19 vaccine is different from traditional vaccines because it is mRNA, a type that uses a copy of a natural chemical called messenger RNA to produce an immune response. Still, all vaccines cause an immune reaction for the body to develop the antibodies, and swelling is the most common response.

(Editor's note: The COVID-19 mRNA vaccines are those from Moderna and Pfizer-Biotech. There are also other vaccines— like Sinovac, Novavax, the Russian vaccines — that use the traditional approach by utilizing a weakened strain of the virus or a part of it.)

The COVID-19 vaccine is different from traditional vaccines because it is mRNA. Still, all vaccines cause an immune reaction for the body to develop the antibodies, and swelling is the most common response.

Experts such as the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery have been quick to stress that the risk of inflammation should not deter patients from getting vaccinated.

But in the event that it happens to you, what should you do?

According to Jennie Francisco-Diaz, MD, medical director of Skin 101, “There are other vaccine options to choose from. But in case of swelling after the vaccine, a simple antihistamine can easily remedy the swelling in about two to three days.”

Dr. Jennie is among the top three Juvéderm Fillers providers in the country over the past decade, proving the breadth of her experience, treating patients coming in with diverse features and goals as well as preexisting health conditions.

At this time, why even get fillers at all?

We have been seeing ourselves in a new light; no one has ever really looked at themselves in this way — for this long, or this frequently. It seems silly to even be thinking about beauty during a pandemic. But it’s something you just have to do for yourself.

This explains the demand for injectables in the same number as patients coming in for acne, whether it’s mascne or acne caused by stress.

It seems silly to even be thinking about beauty during a pandemic. But it’s something you just have to do for yourself.

“People are scrutinizing their eye area more when they wear a mask. On their video calls, they notice that they can benefit from a stronger profile or they have sagging,” shares Dr. Jennie.

Unlike other in-clinic solutions to aging and asymmetry, fillers give you instant results, do not require frequent return trips to the clinic, and have no downtime. The result lasts for over a year, and can look as natural and dramatic as you want; Juvéderm makes them in different concentrations and density, depending on your desired look.

They cannot be washed off. They will not fade even under hot facemasks and face shields. They also provide a lifting and hydrating effect that no makeup, ring light, or angles can mimic.

That being said, what is beauty without life? The risk is rare and easily remedied; get vaccinated when you have the chance.