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Dermal fillers may impact immune system, finds study

Bolyuk Studio/

New research shared at the recent annual scientific conference of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) reveals that hyaluronic acid has been found to block lymphatic channels.

It is these channels that help the body drain fluid and are a key part of the immune system that helps to fight disease. Research is now being planned to see if the treatment affects the risk of diseases including cancer. Fillers have also been linked to cysts, lumps, swelling and facial pain.

Dr Spero Theodorou of the bodySCULPT plastic surgery practice in New York says: “Undereye filler is one of the biggest problems. You see women everywhere with swollen eyes and young women are having fillers in their faces. It’s very hard to remove and it blocks lymphatics in your face. Not all patients will have swelling, but evidence suggests all will have some degree of lymphatic blockage.”


The BAAPS president Marc Pacifico added: “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 the 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 the 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.

Some 80% of surgeons in the study noticed an increase in intra-operative anatomical distortion due to the use of fillers in facelift patients.

“Our surgeons have seen filler lasting longer than expected, well over a year in several cases,” added Pacifico. “Many have noted that anatomical structures are certainly more tethered and scarred when fillers have previously been used.

“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.”

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