Deciding to Dissolve Lip Fillers: What are the Risks and Dangers?

Lip fillers have become increasingly popular over the years, with many people seeking to enhance their appearance and achieve the perfect pout. With social media influencing beauty trends, more people are turning to dissolving and refilling lip fillers as a means of achieving their desired look. However, this process is not without its dangers and drawbacks, making it imperative for anyone considering the procedure to understand the risks involved.

The process to dissolve lip fillers involves injecting an enzyme called hyaluronidase into the area where the filler was applied, breaking it down and allowing the body to naturally absorb it. While this may seem like a straightforward solution for those unhappy with their lip filler results, it is essential to acknowledge that the dissolution of lip fillers can be unpredictable and may have unwanted side effects. Furthermore, refilling the lips with fresh filler immediately after dissolving the previous filler may result in complications due to the unpredictable nature of the process and the inability to accurately assess the natural lip shape and volume.

Key Takeaways

  • Dissolving and refilling lip fillers can lead to unpredictable and potentially dangerous outcomes
  • Injecting fresh filler immediately after dissolving can result in complications due to difficulty in assessing natural lip shape and volume
  • Careful consideration and consultation with a qualified provider is crucial to minimize risks and ensure a safe lip filler experience.

Understanding Lip Fillers

Lip fillers are commonly used to enhance the volume and shape of the lips. There are various types of dermal fillers available in the market, with hyaluronic acid-based fillers like Restylane, Belotero, and Juvederm being the most popular. These temporary fillers are generally considered safe and reversible, as they are naturally broken down by the body over time.

Another category of dermal fillers includes alternatives such as Radiesse, which is a semi-permanent dermal filler, made from calcium hydroxylapatite. Although more long-lasting, Radiesse might be considered less versatile due to its rigid nature and is not easily reversible.

When selecting a lip filler, it is essential to consider the pros and cons of each option. Hyaluronic acid-based fillers, such as Restylane, Belotero, and Juvederm, are favored for their natural-looking results and the ability to be easily reversed if necessary. However, the temporary nature of these fillers means that they require regular injections to maintain results. On the other hand, alternatives like Radiesse offer longer-lasting effects but are less easily reversed and may not be suitable for all patients.

Role of Hyaluronic Acid in Lip Volume

Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring substance in the body, a sugar that naturally occurs in connective tissues, playing a vital role in maintaining skin hydration and volume. When injected as a lip filler, hyaluronic acid attracts water molecules, resulting in increased lip volume and improved aesthetics. One of the major advantages of using hyaluronic acid-based fillers is their reversibility, thanks to the use of hyaluronidase, an enzyme that breaks down and dissolves the filler if required.

How to Dissolve Lip Fillers

Dissolving lip fillers involves using an enzyme called hyaluronidase, which is capable of breaking down hyaluronic acid dermal fillers like Juvederm, Restylane, and Belotero. Injectables like these are commonly used for lip filler treatments to enhance the existing structure and volume of the lips.

During the process: Numbing cream may be applied to ensure patient comfort during the injection of the dissolving agent. The hyaluronidase is then injected directly into the area where the filler is present.

After the process: Swelling is expected and should start to subside after 48 hours. It is important to wait at least one week after the filler dissolving treatment before seeking any additional lip filler treatments. This will give the dissolving agent adequate time to break down the filler, allowing any residual swelling to subside, and thereby leading to natural-looking lips prior to the new lip filler treatment.

Why Dissolving Lip Fillers Can Be Dangerous

While dissolving lip fillers can be an effective way to reverse the effects of filler augmentation, there are some potential risks and side effects to consider, such as:

  1. Swelling and bruising: Dissolving agents like Hyalase, Hylenex, and Vitrase can cause swelling and bruising around the treated area. This usually subsides within a few days.
  2. Allergic reaction: In rare cases, individuals may have an allergic reaction to hyaluronidase. Symptoms may include difficulty breathing, hives, or facial swelling.
  3. Uneven results: The filler dissolving process may lead to an uneven appearance if not done correctly or if the body does not respond uniformly to the treatment.

Recognizing Vascular Occlusion

Dissolving lip fillers, especially if not done by an experienced injector, can pose potential dangers. One serious complication is vascular occlusion, which happens when filler is accidentally injected into a blood vessel and blocks blood flow. Vascular occlusion can cause severe pain, and in extreme cases, result in tissue necrosis, meaning the tissue dies due to lack of blood supply1. This emergency situation requires the immediate attention of a trained professional, like a board-certified plastic surgeon or dermatologist.

Risk of Infection, Necrosis, and Filler Migration

With any cosmetic procedure, including dissolving lip fillers, there is always a risk of infection. If proper sterilization and health measures are not taken, bacteria can enter the injection site2. This may lead to complications such as an infection or even necrosis.

Additionally, if the filler is not completely dissolved or is improperly dissolved, it can potentially migrate to other areas3. This filler migration can lead to a lump or an uneven look, which may require further intervention to correct. Overfilled lips and filler migration are both common reasons why people may want to dissolve their lip fillers4.

When considering dissolving lip fillers, it's crucial to choose a qualified and experienced injector, such as a board-certified plastic surgeon, dermatologist, or an aesthetic nurse with expertise in this area. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons has a database to help find board-certified professionals. It's also important to manage expectations and discuss potential risks and complications with the injector before proceeding with the procedure5.

Keep in mind that dissolving lip fillers can take up to 48 hours for the filler to completely break down, which means it is not recommended to have lips refilled immediately after dissolving. Injectors would not be able to accurately see the natural lip shape, volume, or body, which would increase the risk of unsatisfactory results or complications.

Safeguarding Against Complications

If you decide to have your lip fillers dissolved, it's crucial to consult with a qualified plastic surgeon, dermatologist, or aesthetic nurse. Always look for a certified specialist and verify their credentials. A skilled professional will provide a detailed consultation, discussing the best options for getting your lip fillers dissolved, and implement appropriate safety measures during the procedure.

Some factors to consider when choosing a provider include:

  • Experience: Opt for a plastic surgeon, dermatologist, or aesthetic nurse with extensive experience in lip filler removal and injections.
  • Communication: Good communication is essential for a successful procedure. Ensure that your chosen specialist understands your goals and concerns.
  • Proper facilities: Verify that the provider's clinic or hospital meets hygiene and safety standards.

Aftercare & Monitoring for Adverse Effects

After getting your lip filler dissolved, proper aftercare is essential to minimize the risk of complications and ensure the best possible result. Your provider should give you clear instructions on how to care for your lips, including:

  1. Applying a cold compress to reduce swelling and discomfort.
  2. Avoiding strenuous activity for a few days to prevent increased blood flow to the treated area.
  3. Taking over-the-counter pain medications as recommended by your provider.

It's also crucial to monitor your lips for any potential adverse effects after the procedure. Some common side effects include swelling, redness, and bruising. However, if you experience more severe issues such as infection, prolonged pain, or uneven results, contact your provider right away for further evaluation and treatment.

In summary, prioritizing the expertise of a qualified plastic surgeon, engaging in a thorough consultation, and following appropriate aftercare guidelines can help safeguard against complications and enhance the safety and success of lip filler removal procedures.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the potential risks with dissolving lip fillers?

There are some risks associated with dissolving lip fillers, such as swelling, bruising, and redness, which are usually temporary. Incorrect use of hyaluronidase, the enzyme used for dissolving fillers, can also cause filler migration.

How long should I wait after getting lip fillers dissolved before a refill?

It is important to wait at least 24-48 hours after dissolving lip fillers before getting a refill. This allows the hyaluronidase to fully dissolve the previously injected filler and minimizes the risk of the new filler breaking down with the old filler.

Can lip fillers be partially dissolved to adjust volume?

Yes, lip fillers can be partially dissolved to adjust their volume. A skilled injector can use hyaluronidase to target specific areas and remove excess filler while maintaining the desired outcome.

What are alternatives to hyaluronidase for dissolving lip fillers?

Hyaluronidase is the most common and effective way to dissolve lip fillers. There are no widely accepted or proven alternatives on the market for the specific purpose of dissolving lip fillers. However, it is crucial to note that only hyaluronic acid (HA) fillers, such as Juvederm, Restylane, and Belotero, can be dissolved using hyaluronidase.

Can hyaluronidase cause permanent damage?

There is a very low risk of permanent damage caused by hyaluronidase when used by a qualified and experienced injector. However, it is important to be aware of potential risks, such as allergic reactions, though these are rare.

Does dissolving lip fillers have any impact on the skin health?

Dissolving lip fillers using hyaluronidase generally does not cause any negative impact on the skin's health. After the product is dissolved, the lips should return to their previous appearance, without any sagging or damage to the skin.



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Nancy Park, RN, BSN
Certified Aesthetic Nurse