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Can Injectable Fillers Cause Blindness?

Dr. Vi Sharma has worked in the field of cosmetic surgery

He has a Bachelor of Medicine & Bachelor of Surgery, Monash University; and former member of the Australasian College of Aesthetic Medicine and the Royal Australian College of General Practice.

There is a small but real risk of blindness associated with the use of injectable fillers, particularly when they are injected in certain areas of the face. The risk is caused by an injection technique that can accidentally cause a filler material to enter the blood vessels that supply the eye, leading to a blockage of the blood flow and subsequent blindness.

This complication is called “central retinal artery occlusion” (CRAO) and can occur when a filler is injected in the forehead, nose, or around the eyes. The risk of blindness is considered to be very low, estimated to be around 1 in 10,000 injections, but it is a serious and potentially permanent complication.

To minimize this risk, it is important to choose an experienced and qualified injector who is familiar with the anatomy of the face and the risks associated with injecting fillers. It is also important to discuss any concerns or medical history with the injector before the procedure, and to avoid injecting fillers in certain areas of the face where the risk of blindness is higher.

In summary, while the risk of blindness associated with injectable fillers is low, it is a real and potentially serious complication. It is important to choose a qualified injector and have a thorough discussion about the risks and benefits of the procedure before deciding to go ahead.

Can Injectable Fillers Cause Blindness

Injectable Fillers: Affordable, Simple, and Versatile

Injectable fillers are a wonderful way to help with all sorts of problems occurring with your skin. They can smooth out wrinkles, erase the marks of childhood acne, provide filling for lips so that they’re nice and full, contour cheeks if they’ve become sunken or reduced due to illness or aging, shape your jawline, and remedy facial scarring. These fillers are incredibly versatile, and they don’t require any intensive surgery. They’re even relatively affordable, within the scope of medical treatments. And the recovery time is often quite short, so that you don’t have to sit inside waiting for swelling to go down for weeks at a time before you show off your new look.

Many have heralded injectable fillers as the best new way to treat yourself to a younger face–and to, in a sense, slow the passage of time when it comes to facial wrinkles and imperfections, so that you can look as young on the outside as you feel on the inside. Our parents at our age never even dreamed of procedures like these; the science simply wasn’t there yet. Now, dermal fillers are a common part of most peoples’ lives, with both men and women returning every six months or year for new injections and thinking little of it. For some, it’s as common as a visit to the spa or dentist.

Drawbacks of Injectable Fillers/Dermal Fillers

Yet with all the great benefits that come from injectable dermal fillers, there are a few risks that people should certainly be made aware of. This goes for anything you put in your body, from processed foods to certain calorie-free sweeteners. This also goes for topical ointments such as sunscreen or bug spray. And, of course, it goes for any type of injection or medical treatment. You should always do your homework before any procedure, no matter how benign it may seem. That is just common sense, right?

Injectable fillers aren’t considered extremely dangerous, but, as with anything, they are changing your body to some degree, and these changes always carry certain risks that will depend on the person, their body, their health history, their skin, and the type of issue they’re using the filler for.

In 2014, a new study came out that showed injectable fillers were not as risk-free as doctors once thought. Injections were found to cause blindness in certain subjects. This occurred when an injection was placed in the person’s forehead to smooth out the wrinkles that happen in many people there and intensify as you age. Injections around the eyes could also cause health issues.

Blindness caused as a result of facial filler injections is in fact a fairly rare situation. This doesn’t mean it’s not something that should be on the radar of anyone considering getting their first facial filler injection or thinking about going back for more after having a few procedures done already.

Cosmetic lip fillers have been undergoing a big rise in popularity. Many people consider them about as dangerous as a bikini wax or a peel-off facial–and just as common. But many are arguing that folks should take these procedures more seriously (as they should any medical procedure).

Looking to rejuvenate your skin? Check out our IPL treatment in Melbourne for a safe and effective way to achieve a brighter, more youthful complexion.

What Goes Wrong?

The issue lies in the filler itself, whether it’s hyaluronic acid (which assists the body in maintaining healthy, properly hydrated skin cells), found in the popular intensive wrinkle resolver Restylane as well as in Perlane, or collagens, found in types of fillers like Radiesse and Sculptra. And more than a few people have lost their eyesight permanently because of these injections; numbers in 2015 put this figure at around 100 people.

How does this happen? Well, once in a while, complications arise from the dermal filler and the person’s veins, which can become blocked, or occluded. This in turn causes tissue in the area to die (also known as necrosis), which can sometimes cause the person to go blind.

In some cases, the filler has been injected directly into a blood vessel by mistake, an error on the part of the dermatologist that can have terrible results. The problem occurs when the filler arrives at the ophthalmic artery, which is a part of the internal carotid artery system. This not only happens when injections are given around the forehead and eyes, but also when fillers are inserted near the nose (such as in the nasolabial folds or the nasal bridge). The blindness, when it occurs, happens instantly. And doctors have found it to be irreversible.

Keeping Some Perspective

It’s important to keep these complications in mind, but you also should be aware of how rare this complication is. Many dermatologists have never seen this happen with a patient; they’ve only read about it. And often the complications arose from injections that involved a high volume of filler injected into the face, so if you are worried about anything happening as a result of your filler injection, you might consider going for a treatment that involves only a small amount of filler. You also might consider sticking to your lips or other regions which carry little to zero risk of blindness.

If you are considering an injection in the glabella (or forehead, in between your eyes), the area around your eyes (also called the periocular area), and the cheeks, you should be aware that these contain the vessels that could result in complications. This is because, if the filler is accidentally placed into one of these vessels, it does connect to the intracerebral system, where the artery may become blocked.

Other issues arising with filler injections are necrosis, which we’ve touched on here, which is slightly more common than blindness. This would mean that your filler might result in the death of skin, muscle, nerves, or fat vasculature in your face, causing soft tissue damage. (Anti Wrinkle Injections, or Botulinum toxin, on the other hand, will not cause any tissue damage).

Aspirating prior to the injection (and seeing the blood return) is one way of preventing this.

Because of the risks inherent in any procedure, it’s important that you find a board-certified doctor you can trust before having the injections done. Do your research, and ensure that they’ve been trained and have received all the necessary certifications, and that these certifications and licenses are current.

The cosmetic treatments that are most popular are fillers, anything to prevent or smooth wrinkles, lasers, intense pulsed light (or IPL), operations to reduce or increase the size of the breasts, and the ever-popular liposuction. If you’re considering any treatment within the cosmetic surgery family, do your homework and make sure you’ve got all the information before you go under the needle (or knife). You’ll feel more confident going into the doctor’s office as a result, and so will your loved ones.

Keep in mind that there is always a price when you make changes to your body, whether it’s the money you shell out, the risk you’re assuming as a result of the procedure, the recovery time, or the longterm effects of what you’re using to make yourself look younger. Make sure you’re willing to pay this price.


Want to rejuvenate your skin and reduce signs of aging? Check out Fraxel Laser treatments in Melbourne at Skin Club! Our experienced professionals can help you achieve a youthful glow and feel confident in your skin. Schedule a consultation today to learn more



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About Dr Vi

Dr Vi Sharma is a renowned and highly trained cosmetic surgeon in Sydney, practising cosmetic surgery since 2012. He has a worldwide loyal patient base. He has a bachelor of medicine and a Bachelor of Surgery from Monash University. Dr Vi Sharma is a former member of the Australasian College of Aesthetic Medicine and the Royal Australian College of General Practice. Along with treating patients, he also provides training for doctors and nurses regarding aesthetic and cosmetic treatment modalities.

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