Understanding, avoiding, and managing dermal filler complications

Dermatol Surg. 2008 Jun:34 Suppl 1:S92-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1524-4725.2008.34249.x.


BACKGROUND Dermal fillers are increasingly being utilized for multiple cosmetic dermatology indications. The appeal of these products can be partly attributed to their strong safety profiles. Nevertheless, complications can sometimes occur. OBJECTIVE To summarize the complications associated with each available dermal filling agent, strategies to avoid them, and management options if they do arise. METHODS AND MATERIALS Complications with dermal fillers reported in peer-reviewed publications, prescribing information, and recent presentations at professional meetings were reviewed. Recommendations for avoiding and managing complications are provided, based on the literature review and the author's experience. RESULTS Inappropriate placement or superficial placement is one of the most frequent reasons for patient dissatisfaction. Due to the reversibility of hyaluronic acid, complications from these fillers can be easily corrected. Sensitivity to any of the currently approved FDA products is quite rare and can usually be managed with anti-inflammatory agents. Infection is quite uncommon as well and can usually be managed with either antibiotics or antivirals depending on the clinical features. The most concerning complication is cutaneous necrosis, and a protocol to treat the full spectrum of this process is reviewed. CONCLUSIONS Complications with dermal fillers are infrequent, and strategies to minimize their incidence and impact are easily deployed. Familiarity with each family of soft-tissue augmentation products, potential complications, and their management will optimize the use of these agents.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biocompatible Materials / adverse effects*
  • Cattle
  • Collagen / adverse effects
  • Cosmetic Techniques / adverse effects*
  • Durapatite / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Foreign-Body Reaction / chemically induced
  • Foreign-Body Reaction / prevention & control*
  • Herpes Simplex / chemically induced
  • Humans
  • Hyaluronic Acid / adverse effects
  • Hypersensitivity / etiology*
  • Hypersensitivity / therapy
  • Injections / adverse effects
  • Lactic Acid / adverse effects
  • Male
  • Mycobacterium Infections, Nontuberculous / chemically induced
  • Necrosis / chemically induced*
  • Polyesters
  • Polymers / adverse effects
  • Polymethyl Methacrylate / adverse effects
  • Skin / pathology
  • Skin Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Skin Diseases / pathology
  • Skin Diseases / therapy


  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Polyesters
  • Polymers
  • Lactic Acid
  • poly(lactide)
  • Hyaluronic Acid
  • Collagen
  • Polymethyl Methacrylate
  • Durapatite