Filler migration is an issue I’m seeing more and more in clinic, on social media, and when out in public. People get facial fillers for a myriad of personal reasons, from wanting to revolumise areas that have hollowed out with age to hoping for more volume in their lips. And, in the right hands, fillers can deliver life-changing results.

So, if you do choose to explore fillers — especially if it’s your first-time diving into aesthetic treatments — there’s one thing you want to avoid: filler migration. But what exactly is filler migration, why does it occur and how can it be prevented? This is everything you need to know…

What is filler migration?

Filler migration is as straightforward as it sounds – it occurs when a hyaluronic acid filler that’s injected intentionally in one area of your face, moves — or migrates — to another. In the instances of true filler migration, it would look like a fullness that’s not where it should be. It isn’t a common occurrence and if treated by a skilled, medical practitioner, the risk of migration is very small.

Though it can happen in any area of your face, filler migration is most noticeable on thinner areas of skin, like under your eyes or on the upper lip.

If you suspect that your own filler has migrated, it will appear like bumpiness or fullness outside of the treated area. It might look like you lack definition in the border of your lips, or you may notice a bump or a wedge if filler has migrated near your eyes.

Why does filler migration occur?

Understanding the common causes of filler migration can help you avoid it if you decide to get a cosmetic treatment. One of the main issues is overfilling. This occurs either due to a patient requesting more filler than advised (although a reputable practitioner will know when to say no), or an injector lacking sufficient training. An inexperienced injector may also use an inappropriate filler type.

Different fillers have unique properties and viscosities: Certain filler types are more prone to migration due to their consistency. More jelly-like, thinner fillers or non-cross-linked fillers might have a higher chance of movement. Lastly, sometimes filler migration is out of anyone’s control. Fillers can move even when they’re injected perfectly.

How to prevent filler migration

With the right knowledge, filler migration is easily avoided:

  • Choose an Experienced Injector: Opt for a skilled and experienced medical professional who specialises in aesthetic injectable treatments.
  • Follow Recommended Dosages: Avoid requesting excessive filler amounts and adhere to the injector’s recommendations. If a practitioner refuses to treat you, don’t go to another injector requesting more filler. There is a reason that your practitioner said no.
  • Use Appropriate Filler Type: Ensure that the chosen filler aligns with your desired results and the area being treated.
  • Regular Follow-ups: Schedule follow-up appointments with your injector to monitor and address any signs of migration early on.

How to effectively treat filler migration

If your filler has moved, there is no need to panic. First, confirm with your practitioner that it is indeed filler migration, not swelling or another side effect. Hyaluronic acid filler will dissolve on with time, whether it’s in its original location or not. It’s not harmful if it moves, but aesthetically, it isn’t the desired result. In that case, your injector can dissolve filler with hyaluronidase, an enzyme that breaks down the hyaluronic acid used for fillers.

If you choose to dissolve it with hyaluronidase, you want to ensure that your issue is filler migration, or it’ll dissolve your body’s natural hyaluronic acid. Done correctly, “the best part is that you’ll see results from it dissolving pretty quickly.

Filler migration, though a potential complication, can often be prevented and effectively managed. Choosing a qualified professional, understanding the factors contributing to migration, and being aware of available treatment options are essential aspects for anyone considering or undergoing cosmetic filler treatments. Remember, consultation and ongoing communication with your injector are key to achieving satisfying and safe results.