Guidance Issued on COVID Vaccine Use in Patients With Dermal Fillers

Ted Bosworth

January 08, 2021

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

Evidence that a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine is associated with inflammatory reactions in patients with dermal fillers has led the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery to issue a guidance outlining the potential risk and clinical relevance.

The association is not surprising, since other vaccines, including the influenza vaccine, have also been associated with inflammatory reactions in patients with dermal fillers. A warning about inflammatory events from these and other immunologic triggers should be part of routine informed consent, according to Sue Ellen Cox, MD, a coauthor of the guidance and the ASDS president-elect.

"Patients who have had dermal filler should not be discouraged from receiving the vaccine, and those who have received the vaccine should not be discouraged from receiving dermal filler," Cox, who practices in Chapel Hill, N.C., said in an interview.

The only available data to assess the risk came from the trial of the Moderna vaccine. Of a total of 15,184 participants who received at least one dose of mRNA-1273, three developed facial or lip swelling that was presumably related to dermal filler. In the placebo group, there were no comparable inflammatory events.

"This is a very small number, but there is no reliable information about the number of patients in either group who had dermal filler, so we do not know the denominator," Cox said.

In all three cases, the swelling at the site of dermal filler was observed within 2 days of the vaccination. None were considered a serious adverse event and all resolved. The filler had been administered 2 weeks prior to vaccination in one case, 6 months prior in a second, and time of administration was unknown in the third.

The resolution of the inflammatory reactions associated with the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine is similar to those related to dermal fillers following other immunologic triggers, which not only include other vaccines, but viral or bacterial illnesses and dental procedures. Typically, they are readily controlled with oral corticosteroids, but also typically resolve even in the absence of treatment, according to Cox.

"The good news is that these will go away," Cox said.

The ASDS guidance is meant to alert clinicians and patients to the potential association between inflammatory events and SARS-CoV-2 vaccination in patients with dermal filler, but Cox said that it will ultimately have very little effect on her own practice. She already employs an informed consent that includes language warning about the potential risk of local reactions to immunological triggers that include vaccines. SARS-CoV-2 vaccination can now be added to examples of potential triggers, but it does not change the importance of informing patients of such triggers, Cox explained.

Asked if patients should be informed specifically about the association between dermal filler inflammatory reactions and SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, the current ASDS president and first author of the guidance, Mathew Avram, MD, JD, suggested that they should. Although he emphasized that the side effect is clearly rare, he believes it deserves attention.

"We wanted dermatologists and other physicians to be aware of the potential. We focused on the available data but specifically decided not to provide any treatment recommendations at this time," he said in an interview.

As new data become available, the Soft-Tissue Fillers Guideline Task Force of the ASDS, which provided the guidance, will continue to monitor the relationship between SARS-CoV-2 vaccinations and dermal filler reactions, including other SARS-CoV-2 vaccines and the relative risks for hyaluronic acid and non–hyaluronic acid types of fillers.

"Our guidance was based only on the trial data, but there will soon be tens of millions of patients exposed to several different SARS-CoV-2 vaccines. We may learn things we do not know now, and we plan to communicate to our membership and others any new information as events unfold," said Avram, who is director of dermatologic surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston,

Based on her own expertise in the field, Cox suggested that administration of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine and administration of dermal filler should be separated by at least 2 weeks regardless of which comes first. Her recommendation is not based on controlled data, but she considers this a prudent interval even if it has not been tested in a controlled study.

The full ASDS guidance is scheduled to appear in an upcoming issue of Dermatologic Surgery.

As new data become available, the Soft-tissue Fillers Guideline Task Force of the ASDS, which provided the guidance, will continue to monitor the relationship between SARS-CoV-2 vaccinations and dermal filler reactions, including other types of vaccines and the relative risks for hyaluronic acid and non–hyaluronic acid types of fillers.

This article originally appeared on MDedge.com, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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