Three patients who took Moderna’s vaccine experienced swelling following their vaccinations
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons has put out a statement advising its members not to discourage patients with dermal fillers from taking the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. The guidance comes following earlier reports that three patients with a history of dermal filler use who took the Moderna vaccine experienced some degree of lip or facial swelling as a side effect.
“In light of recent media coverage of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine’s associated side-effects noted in patients with dermal fillers, it is important for physicians and patients to understand the self-limited nature of these reported events,” the ASPS noted in a recent release. “The current reported side effects have only been observed in the Moderna vaccine trial in 3 out of 15,184 recipients; it is currently unknown how many participants had a history of dermal filler usage.”
The FDA noted in its December 17th report on the trials that, in each of these cases, the swelling completely resolved. “Dermal filler-associated delayed hypersensitivity immunologically based reactions have been reported for both hyaluronic acid and non-hyaluronic acid-based fillers,” said the ASPS. “These reactions have specifically been demonstrated after influenza-like illness.”
OK. I know - that’s a mouthful. Let’s take a moment and unpack that statement for those of us without advanced degrees in plastic surgery, shall we?
Most dermal fillers are broken down by the material used to create the gel that adds volume to the face. Either they are made with hyaluronic acid (a substance that is actually found naturally occurring in the body) or they are made with something else.
The ASPS is saying that there have been instances where the immune system, responding to an “influenza-like illness,” inadvertently targets the lip filler and fights it, too - causing swelling. These responses are “delayed hypersensitivity” because the body accepted the fillers just fine initially, then became sensitive to them when the immune response was triggered by an illness.
These instances happen regardless of whether the filler is made with hyaluronic acid or something else. Because vaccines work by making the body think that it’s fighting an illness to trigger an immune response, it’s not out of line to think that an immune system response to a vaccine like the COVID-19 vaccine might do the same thing.
It is important to remember that according to the FDA, the patients who experienced these reactions make up less than .02% of the total number of patients tested. Without knowing how many of the participants in the Moderna vaccine trials had a history of using dermal fillers, it is difficult to make evidence-based conclusions on the likelihood of other dermal filler patients experiencing similar side effects. The patients were not asked about their dermal fillers until the side effects presented, and a study on the Moderna vaccine specifically looking at the reactions of people with dermal fillers has not been conducted - yet.
However, that has not stopped media outlets from jumping to conclusions that people with dermal fillers are at risk of swelling if they take the Moderna vaccine. Headlines from local TV news outlets screamed that “Moderna COVID-19 vaccine causes swelling and inflammation in patients who have cosmetic facial fillers” making it seem like an inevitability (it isn’t), and without taking the time to explain the number of incidents or their resolution. It is also worth noting that even in these clickbait stories, the recommendation of the experts interviewed by the media outlets was to go ahead and get the vaccine.
Faced with a potential panic, plastic surgeons and organizations like the ASPS are blasting out the rest of the story on whatever media and social media platforms they can access. In fact, a recent article in Allure magazine does an excellent job in pointing out the opinion of the vast majority of plastic surgeons (including Dr. Parcells) that the benefits of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine far outweigh the potential risks of lip or facial swelling for dermal filler patients.
However, the damage may have already been done. Doctors and plastic surgeons across the country are reporting conversations with patients who are expressing reluctance to take the Moderna vaccine because they don’t want to stop using their dermal fillers. This puts them at risk of far more serious potential health risks should they come down with a severe case of COVID-19.
The opinion of Dr. Parcells, the ASPS, and plastic surgeons around the world is clear and unwavering. If you do experience swelling, it can be easily treated with antihistamines and steroids. The potential side effects of getting COVID-19 are far worse than the vaccine.
The risk is overhyped. Get the vaccine.
Parcells Plastic Surgery offers the most advanced surgical and cosmetic medical spa treatments to women in New Jersey.
Board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Alexis Parcells is here to educate and empower you to celebrate your natural beauty.4 Industrial Way West #101, Eatontown, New Jersey 07724