How Long Dermal Fillers Last: A Closer Look.

Hyaluronic acid (HA) fillers promise to replace lost facial volume and restore a youthful facial shape, but there is controversy about how long dermal fillers last. While marketed as being a temporary and 100% reversible solution, recent research suggests they might last longer than previously thought. This article explores this shift in our understanding of how long dermal fillers last, drawing on the insights from a key study by Mobin Master et al.

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Dermal Fillers: Beyond the “Temporary” Label

Traditionally, dermal fillers are viewed as temporary. Most injectors will tell their patients they will be broken down naturally over time. However, a pivotal study by Master et al. challenges this assumption. Their analysis using the latest imaging technologies (Magnetic Resistance Imaging – MRI)  revealed that HA fillers persisted for up to 27 months. [1].

Potential Implications for Safety and Management

This extended longevity raises concerns about safety and obtaining consent. Unexpected aesthetic outcomes and complications, such as delayed swelling, granuloma formation, or uneven degradation, could occur long after the initial treatment. These delayed problems might need additional interventions to correct.

Rethinking Injection Practices

The traditional practice of re-injecting or layering fillers on top of existing ones might need reevaluation. Re-injection could lead to unforeseen complications without fully understanding how previous fillers degrade. A more cautious approach is warranted, with thorough patient counselling regarding how long do fillers last, their potential long-term effects and risks.

The Need for More Research and Guidance

This situation highlights the need for further research on the long-term behaviour of dermal fillers and how long dermal fillers last. Developing more precise guidelines for their use is crucial. Additionally, advanced imaging techniques like MRI offer valuable tools for monitoring and managing filler treatments, improving safety and patient satisfaction.

Should you be concerned about how long dermal fillers last?

How long dermal fillers last can be a cause for concern for a few reasons:

  • Unwanted permanence: While temporary results are advertised as a benefit, some people might end up with a look they don’t like if the fillers don’t break down as expected.
  • Uneven breakdown:  Sometimes, HA fillers can break down unevenly, leading to a lumpy appearance, necessitating additional treatment to dissolve or correct the filler.
  • Dissolving process: Dissolving unwanted HA filler requires an enzyme called hyaluronidase. While generally safe, this adds another injection procedure and potential side effects.
  • Repeat procedures: The need for repeat procedures to maintain desired results can become expensive over time.

It’s important to note that these concerns aren’t necessarily dealbreakers for everyone. However,  understanding the potential downsides and possibly needing corrective procedures is essential for making an informed decision.

Conclusion: A Call for Re-examination

Studies like Master et al.’s [1] prompt a renewed examination of our approach to dermal fillers. A deeper understanding of how long dermal fillers last is essential. Striking a balance between desired aesthetic results and long-term safety should be paramount.

Reference:

Master M. Hyaluronic Acid Filler Longevity and Localization: Magnetic Resonance Imaging Evidence. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2021 Jan 1;147(1):50e-53e. doi: 10.1097/PRS.0000000000007429. PMID: 33002985.

Andy Taylor

I am a Consultant working in the NHS specialising in non-surgical aesthetic treatments.