Following Ariana Grande's recent remarks on embracing the natural aging process and admiring the facial features life gifts us, it seems like swarms of people are coming forward with their desire to reverse the “expressionless,” “overfilled,” and “mask-like” faces that have become a result of the social media-induced epidemic of constantly finding imperfections to fix. Thousands of people have taken to TikTok to share their reasoning for dissolving their fillers after years of relying on them to appear "perfect."
And, while there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to look like the best version of yourself, we cannot forget that serious safety factors come into play when you start to rely on frequent dermatologist visits to keep up a pretty face.
Despite the health and cosmetic concerns that come with prolonged filler use, this trend seems to have become a significant cash grab that has opened the door for subpar standards and providers who are not qualified enough to provide this particular service, taking advantage of many individuals' insecurities and potentially putting your health and well-being in danger.
So, needless to say, we’re happy to welcome this form of mass awakening, but, as with most cosmetic treatments, dissolving your fillers isn't a simple and straightforward process that comes with zero risks and potential side effects. Here’s everything you need to know about dissolving your fillers and how this change might affect you.
How Does Filler Dissolution Work?
There are a few FDA-approved filler options that are used in specific facial areas due to their unique characteristics. The two most commonly used fillers in cosmetics are hyaluronic acid and calcium hydroxyapatite.
Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring substance found in our bodies around cells that gives them a cushiony and plump look. It’s also frequently used in cosmetic products due to its ability to retain moisture and keep the skin plump and hydrated. When used in a filler form, hyaluronic acid is typically applied to areas where you would want a little extra volume, like the lips, cheeks, and jawline.
Calcium hydroxyapatite fillers, on the other hand, are thicker, denser, and more gel-like and are used to add structure to our faces rather than just filling in superficial lines or adding volume. This substance is also naturally found in our bodies, mostly in our bones and teeth.
Now, hyaluronic acid is naturally dissolved with an enzyme called hyaluronidase, which is also present in our body and is somewhat responsible for the loss of facial volume that occurs with aging. Hyaluronidase is an enzyme that resembles water in consistency, and our bodies need it because it plays an important role in reducing tissue damage and swelling.
This is why, to dissolve an artificially injected hyaluronic acid, providers will inject a potent amount of hyaluronidase directly into the spot where the filler was previously injected. The enzyme will then break down the bonds of the hyaluronic acid molecules and eventually dissolve the substance entirely so that the body can gradually metabolize and eliminate the filler material. This process is called enzymatic degradation, and it typically takes anywhere between a few days to several weeks, depending on how much filler has been used in each area and how your body responds to the procedure.
Calcium hydroxyapatite, on the other hand, cannot be dissolved with hyaluronidase and requires a more cellular breakdown process to eliminate it from our bodies. This is usually done through a weekly series of sodium thiosulfate injections, which are specifically designed to break down the calcium hydroxyapatite molecules into smaller particles that can eventually be metabolized and eliminated from our bodies. This process can take several weeks, as calcium fillers are notoriously difficult to dissolve, so if they get botched or you decide you no longer want them, it can be a pricey endeavor.
How To Prep for Dissolving Your Fillers
While prepping for your filler dissolving appointment doesn't require any complicated steps, there are a few things that you should bear in mind to make sure the procedure runs as smoothly and safely as possible.
One major thing you have to keep in mind is what you ingest, as the consumption of certain substances can potentially increase the risk of bleeding and bruising. Specifically, you should steer clear of aspirin and ibuprofen, as these medications are known blood thinners and can make you more prone to bleeding and bruising. In the same basket, we can put supplements such as omega-3 and fish oil, vitamin E, and ginkgo biloba due to their high content of flavonoids and terpenoids, which are types of antioxidants that can lower blood viscosity and inhibit the action of platelet-activating factor, which is a substance in your body that makes platelets (a type of blood cell) stick together and form clots. This can result in more blood flow and an increased risk of bleeding or bruising during and after the filler dissolving treatment.
You should also try to stay away from alcohol for at least 2-3 days before your filler dissolving appointment, as it is another known blood thinner and can increase your risk of complications.
Lastly, avoid scheduling other anti-wrinkle treatments that consist of receiving injections for at least a week before your filler dissolving appointment, as these can create potential complications such as swelling and bruising and may also interfere with your treatment.
What To Expect After Dissolving Your Fillers
So this is the part where things turn scary for many, as in the first 48 hours, you are likely to experience swelling and even bruising, which is something that has led to a barrage of TikTok videos in which people are panicking right after a filler dissolving appointment. But, in reality, these reactions are pretty common and usually disappear within a few days.
There are several reasons why mild to moderate swelling and bruising are a normal reaction to filler dissolution. The number one reason is that injecting hyaluronidase into the skin will cause mild physical trauma, and the needle may even disrupt small blood vessels under the skin, causing blood to leak into the surrounding tissues, which will appear on the skin as a bruise. Additionally, hyaluronidase works by breaking down hyaluronic acid in the skin, which is a chemical "fight" between the two substances and can lead to temporary inflammation and swelling. Once the filler is dissolved, your body needs to clear away the broken-down product, which is yet another process that can contribute to mild swelling that can stick around for a couple of weeks after the treatment.
In most cases, these symptoms go down within 48 hours to a week, but in some cases, they can last a little longer. It’s also important to keep in mind that if the filler is injected too deep or close to a nerve, you may experience numbness or tingling. This should go away with time; however, it’s best to get checked by your provider if it persists for more than two weeks after the treatment.
Lastly, keep in mind that dissolved fillers may still linger in the body for some time, especially when it comes to calcium hydroxyapatite-based fillers. This means you may still have some residual product left over, even after a few weeks of enzymatic degradation or injection with sodium thiosulfate. In this case, it’s best to wait and let your body do its job, as it can take some time for the remaining filler to be wholly metabolized and eliminated.
The Benefits and Side Effects of Dissolving Your Fillers
Not everyone will feel great right after removing their fillers, and this can especially be the case for those who have had them for a long time and are used to the look they gave them. Even if you need some time to get used to your natural features, there are a few benefits you should recognize, as these may make you feel more confident in your decision to dissolve your fillers.
One of the main benefits of dissolving your fillers is that it can restore a more natural-looking face, as this procedure will remove any unnatural or excessive volume from the treated area and allow your face to revert to its original state, ensuring you maintain your unique beauty. Deciding to dissolve your fillers is a testament to self-acceptance and loving every inch of your natural self!
Dissolving your fillers can also lead to improved skin health, which is definitely something you will appreciate with time, as fillers can actually cause a decrease in your skin's natural elasticity in the long run, and by getting rid of them, you can give your skin a chance to bounce back. This will also give you flexibility for future choices regarding aesthetic treatments, as fillers can sometimes be considered a contraindication for facial massages and other treatments due to the risk of being moved around and causing complications.
Health complications from fillers are not as rare as providers would like to make you believe, and dissolving them can definitely eliminate the risk of infections, acne-like skin eruptions, hematoma, and allergies, which can be especially dangerous if untreated.
On the flip side, dissolving your fillers, despite being beneficial for your physical and mental health as well as your skin, can come with a few side effects, including facial sagging, which can occur due to prolonged overfilling, and prominent wrinkles (especially in the first 48 hours). While these side effects are temporary and should go back to normal as your skin starts to bounce back, you can always incorporate the use of gua sha or facial massages to speed up this process. Incorporating anti-aging products into your skincare routine, such as retinol and peptides, can also help your skin look more youthful and supple over time.
Dissolving your fillers can be a great way to restore your face to its natural state, and even though there can be some side effects in the short term, these are usually temporary and will go away as your body clears out the filler. When it comes to the long-term benefits, there are definitely a few you should take into consideration when deciding to dissolve your fillers, as these come with a high risk of making you feel more confident in your unique beauty!
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