Worried About Filler Migration? Here's What You Need to Know
The good news: It's not as common as it seems.
People get facial (also known as dermal) fillers for a myriad of personal reasons, from wanting to smooth out fine lines around the eyes to hoping for more volume in their lips. And we’re all about celebrating what makes you feel comfortable in your skin.
So, if you do choose to go the filler route — especially if it’s your first time diving into cosmetic treatments — there’s one thing you want to avoid: filler migration.
Related:All the New Fillers You Need to Know About, and What’s Launching Soon
What Filler Migration Means
Filler migration is as straightforward as it sounds: “It’s a hyaluronic acid filler that’s injected intentionally in one area of your face, but it moves — or migrates — to another,” says Jodi LoGerfo, DNP, a dermatology nurse in New York City. And despite what the internet wants you to believe, “it’s a very rare occurrence," she says. "In the instances of true filler migration, it would look like a fullness that’s not where it should be."
Though it can happen on any area of your face, “filler migration is most noticeable on thinner areas of skin, like under your eyes or on the upper lip,” says Hayley Goldbach, MD, a double board-certified dermatologist and professor of dermatology at Brown University.
If you suspect filler migration, “it will look like bumpiness or fullness in an area that wasn’t injected,” says Dr. Goldbach. For example, filler migration in your lips “might look like you lack definition in the border,” says LoGerfo. (Think: duck lips.) Meanwhille, if your filler has migrated near your eyes, “it might look like a little bump or a wedge,” she adds.
Depending on your issue, filler migration can be noticed immediately, especially if it’s due to overfilling (more on that below). But you can also see it at any time — even months later — as your filler breaks down or the muscles in your face move it around if it’s improperly injected.
Related:What to Know About Injectables In the Eye Area
What Causes Filler Migration
Understanding the common causes of filler migration can help you avoid it if you decide to get a cosmetic treatment. “One of the main issues is overfilling,” says LoGerfo. Sometimes this results from a patient requesting more filler than recommended, “or it could be because your injector isn’t highly trained,” she adds. "An inexperienced injector might also not use the right type of filler."
Different fillers have unique properties and viscosities: “Certain filler types are more prone to migration due to their consistency. More jelly-like, thinner fillers or non-cross-linked fillers might have a higher chance of movement,” says Dr. Goldbach. Lastly, sometimes filler migration is out of anyone’s control. “Fillers can move even when they’re injected perfectly. The human body is a weird and wonderful place,” she says.
How to Treat Filler Migration
If your filler has moved, there is no need to panic. First, confirm with a professional injector that it’s indeed filler migration, not swelling or another side effect. “Hyaluronic acid filler will dissolve on its own in nine to 15 months whether it's in its original location or not,” says LoGerfo. It’s not harmful if it moves, but aesthetically, it isn’t the desired result. In that case, “your injector can dissolve filler with hyaluronidase, an enzyme that breaks down the hyaluronic acid used for fillers,” she says.
Related:Everything You Want to Know About Getting Your Fillers Dissolved, Explained
If you choose to dissolve it with hyaluronidase, you want to ensure that your issue is filler migration, or it’ll dissolve your body’s natural hyaluronic acid. Done correctly, “the best part is that you’ll see results of it dissolving pretty quickly,” she says.
How to Prevent Filler Migration
A trained injector is key. In the U.S., there are different requirements from state to state on who can inject your filler and what credentials they need. “In New York, for example, it can vary from a nurse to a doctor, to a physician’s assistant — dermatology doesn’t necessarily need to be their specialty. The best way to find a reputable injector is by word of mouth. But it’s also important to do your research by reviewing examples of their work — their social media accounts are helpful for this!” says LoGerfo. Use your judgment: Meet your potential injector for an initial consultation, and move on if you’re not jiving with their approach.
Proper aftercare following your filler treatment is also necessary. Your injector should give you specific instructions, but the top tip is “to avoid rubbing or squeezing your face [for at least a day after your injection]," says Dr. Goldbach. "This can create pressure and cause the filler to move out of the intended area." In the first 24 hours, it’s also necessary to avoid sleeping facedown, excessive or exaggerated facial movements, and strenuous exercise.
Related:Botox vs. Fillers: Which Injectable Is Right for You?
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