Dermal Filler Aesthetic Risks and Side Effects

What is Hyaluronic Acid Dermal Filler?

Hyaluronic Acid (HA) is a natural complex sugar that stabilises the skin structure, aids in skin hydration, and contributes to the elastic properties of the skin that allow it to remain tight. HA is constantly being remade and metabolised within the body as part of the natural biological process. HA dermal fillers therefore must contain a small amount of modification to ensure they are not metabolised in the body within 24 hours. Injections of HA dermal filler into the skin can help to replenish its natural support structures damaged by aging. HA injectable gel dermal fillers, are commonly used to assist the appearance of facial wrinkles and hollows and are also used to enhance your natural facial features (For Example, lip augmentation).


The length of time the filler with last is dependent on a number of factors including the type of filler, the area treated and the volume used. A patient’s natural metabolism is also a factor in degradation, and environmental factors such as sun exposure and smoking have also been shown to degrade hyaluronic acid at a faster rate. Results have been shown to last from 6 – 24 months.

Deciding on a practitioner

All aesthetic practitioners need to be a registered Australian health care practitioner to be able to perform cosmetic injectable treatments. It is important before booking your appointment that you visit the AHPRA website. It is a requirement that you are to have a consultation by a Medical or Nurse Practitioner before undergoing treatment. This can be done in person or via video call. Often the aesthetic practitioner may suggest something different to your initial expectation, so it is important to be given time to think this information over before deciding on treatment. You should never feel rushed or pressured in any way. AMET strongly encourages patients to find a practitioner they feel comfortable and most importantly safe with. This will be evident in how your practitioner consults you as well as how they conduct their business. You should feel comfortable to ask any questions throughout the consultation and your practitioner must discuss all the risks and side effects of dermal filler.

CommonRare or Very Rare
BruisingInflection – viral or bacterial
BleedingVascular occlusion – Filler entering a blood vessel
Swelling – mild to moderateSkin discolouration
Redness Tissue death and scarring – following vascular occlusion.
TendernessHaematoma – collection of blood under the skin
DiscomfortInflammatory hardened nodules
ItchingPermanent disfigurement
Lumps and bumps (of filler) Ulceration of the skin
Anaphylaxis resulting in death.

Risks and Side Effects

There is always a small but definite risk that injections with dermal fillers may injure facial vessels. In many cases this results in bruising and/or swelling which will settle in the days or weeks following treatment. However rarely the filler may enter a blood vessel and produce a blockage that may result in skin breakdown and scarring. If detected and managed early, tissue breakdown can be avoided. It is important to communicate with your practitioner about any concerns you have following treatment. For more detailed information on how to recognise a vascular occlusion, please see our vascular occlusion information sheet.

Very rarely (estimated at 0.001%) blindness has occurred from filler entering a vessel which is unlikely to be reversed. Also, there is a very rare risk of stroke from filler entering into a blood vessel. There are certain areas of the face that will carry a greater risk of blindness and should be performed by an experienced practitioner with extensive facial anatomy and injecting knowledge. These include the frown lines, nose, forehead, temples, tear troughs and nasolabial (nose to mouth) lines.

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