Caution raised Over Immune System Impact of Cosmetic Filler

Danielle Lowe
By Danielle Lowe

Danielle Lowe is the Marketing Manager for, the UK’s largest aesthetic information website. 

Dermal fillers have gained in popularity, partly influenced by reality TV shows like Love Island and social media; however medical experts caution that the injected substance may cause an immune reaction.
Hyaluronic acid – the key compound in most fillers – has been found to block lymphatic channels, which help the body drain fluid and are a key part of the immune system that helps to fight disease. Fillers are also linked to cysts, lumps, swelling and facial pain.
A US research team unveiled the findings during the Annual Scientific conference of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons in London which brings together the best surgeons from around the world to speak about advancements in facial surgery and body contouring.
Dr Spero Theodorou, one of the conference speakers and director of the leading bodySCULPT plastic surgery practice in New York, spoke out about the study that will be published later this year in the international plastic surgery literature. Theodorou comments:
Under-eye filler is one of the biggest problems. You see women everywhere with swollen eyes. It’s taken us 20 years but we’ve proved it I don’t gain anything from doing this. I will be a pariah. You have young women having fillers in their faces. It’s never going to go away. It’s very hard to remove and it blocks lymphatics in your face. This is a very important system. Not all patients will have swelling, but evidence suggests all will have some degree of lymphatic blockage”.

BAAPS president Marc Pacifico said:

“People don’t need to panic and have fillers dissolved as an emergency. This is preliminary research but it gives us a scientific explanation for side-effects we are seeing with fillers. Whether it has more medical ramifications is unknown at this stage. However, this does highlight the importance of using a medically trained clinician for injectable fillers.”

Earlier this year a study of BAAPS Facelift surgeons showed a trend in women enquiring and having facelifts at a younger age which could be linked to the rise in concerns about using fillers.

Caution raised Over Cosmetic Filler
The study found:
  • 70% of surgeons had observed a trend of younger patients, under 50, enquiring about facelifts.
  • 65% of surgeons observed that patients interested in facelifts are more circumspect about using facial fillers.
  • 80% of surgeons noticed an increase in intra-operative anatomical distortion due to the use of fillers in facelift patients.
Commenting on the findings of the study President Marc Pacifico says:
“Our surgeons have seen filler lasting longer than expected, well over a year in many cases. Many have noted that anatomical structures are certainly more tethered and scarred when fillers have previously been used and have seen an increase in intraoperative and preoperative anatomical distortion due to the overuse of fillers.”
Currently, the UK does not tightly regulate who can inject fillers and what they can use, with government officials now developing strategies to regulate the industry. President Marc Pacifico continues:
“This research will help us recognise some of the previously unappreciated biological impacts of these products. Even if it’s only a small percentage who are affected, the numbers will be quite high”
About the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons
The BAAPS based at the Royal College of Surgeons, is a not-for-profit organisation, established for the advancement of education and practice of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery for public benefit.

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