Earlier in the month, the FDA issued an emergency-use authorization for the coronavirus vaccines developed from Pfizer and Moderna. While most vaccine recipients have reported mild side effects such as headache and fatigue, a specific section of recipients who have had dermal fillers reported localized facial swelling after receiving the Moderna vaccine. The location of the swelling was noted to have occurred in the area where the filler was injected. 

What We Know So Far

An additional observation was made where three patients with hyaluronic acid-based filler experienced facial or lip swelling after being vaccinated from Moderna’s phase 3 trial. Two patients who had cheek filler injections within six months of the vaccination date, with the third one having a lip filler two days before their vaccination. 

All patients experienced temporary reactions that resolved on their own or through simple, minimal treatment. For the patient who received the lip filler within days of their vaccine, there were no definitive conclusions as to whether the inflammatory response stemmed from the vaccine or part of the normal swelling following dermal filler injection. 

What is Causing the Swelling Reaction? 

The only direct conclusion made so far is that the COVID-19 antibodies formed by the vaccine do not attack dermal fillers. The administration of the vaccine results in a Type IV hypersensitivity reaction to the HA filler. The reactions are delayed allergic responses as a result of exposure to foreign substances or materials in the body. .This late-onset response can be triggered by many conditions, and they can occur after a number of months or even up to a year following the filler treatment. 

In most cases, inflammatory reactions to HA fillers can be treated. While there is the possibility of a local inflammatory response to the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, the reports and cases are so rare that no direct link can be established. The risks of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine so far are proven to be low and there is still not enough data to suggest a correlation between the vaccine and swelling from dermal fillers. If you do have questions about side effects, contact Beverly Hills facial plastic surgeon Dr. Edween and her team and schedule an appointment.