If you’ve ever gotten Botox, especially recently, you might want to hear about this fairly new announcement before considering getting your COVID-19 vaccine—and if you’re one of the lucky few who’ve already received their first jab, please just ignore me before you start worrying over something that, hopefully, isn’t likely to happen to you. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently said that people who get “a certain procedure should be aware they could have some unwanted side-effects with a COVID-19 vaccine.” This “certain procedure” includes dermal fillers, mostly known as Botox.
There have been reports of people with Botox experiencing facial or lip swelling after receiving the Moderna vaccine. At a meeting of the advisory panel—known as the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC)—FDA medical officer Rachel Zhang reported that two people developed facial swelling after vaccination during Moderna’s phase 3 trial.
One person, a 46-year-old female, had dermal fillers injected about six months before getting the vaccine. The other, a 51-year-old female, had undergone the same procedure only two weeks before vaccination. A third person who took part in the Moderna trial developed lip angioedema (swelling) about two days after vaccination. Zhang said the person had received prior dermal filler injections in the lips, and had reported a “similar reaction after a previous influenza vaccine.”
During that same meeting, the FDA included the facial swelling in the “Related Serious Adverse Event” category. “This is a very rare side effect, and it’s very treatable with antihistamines and prednisone (a type of steroid),” board-certified dermatologist Debra Jaliman, MD, told Health.
In fact, in all three cases mentioned above, the swelling was localised and either resolved itself without intervention or after simple treatment. So no need to freak out about your lips exploding while you’re trying to get a cute vaxxie.
Although we don’t know the exact mechanism causing this response, doctors believe it is an inflammatory reaction—duh. “A filler is a foreign body and when your immune system is switching on due to the vaccine it would make sense that areas that have foreign bodies that aren’t normally in your body would also have inflammation—this is because your immune system is designed to counteract any foreign substance,” Doctor Purvi Parikh, an allergist and immunologist at NYU Langone Health, told Health.
And in case you thought you weren’t concerned by this because you’ll never receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine… I’ve got some mixed news for you. “Viruses like the common cold, influenza, etc., are known to trigger swelling—again, this is because your immune system is being activated,” Doctor Parikh explained. “And if you are allergic to a medication, this may trigger a similar response in your fillers.” In other words, the same allergic reaction could happen with many different types of vaccine and even medication.
That being said, it doesn’t appear to have been reported with the Pfizer vaccine, and it’s not clear why, because the two vaccines are almost identical. All in all, the benefits of the vaccine, and therefore avoiding the disease, far outweigh anything that has to do with a cosmetic procedure. Swelling in people with fillers isn’t abnormal—filler is a foreign substance, which explains why your body might be extra vigilant against it after receiving a dose of the vaccine.
For the most part, over-the-counter medication should get you through any kind of discomfort, but do contact your doctor if it gets worse.
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The selfie-generation has become something we accept as much as we enjoy to joke about. Selfie-oriented beauty tutorials are the subject of love, hate and mockery. Shameless selfie is a hashtag. ‘Feeling myself’ a brush off reference to Beyonce rather than an acknowledgement of our self-obsession and desire for societal acceptance. Beauty tutorials on YouTube and Instagram have become a source of plastic surgery and botox inspiration, influence and—more importantly, education.
According to a 2017 survey by The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS), 55 percent of plastic surgeons reported that their patients desired to look better in selfies. The trend was first identified by the surgeon society three years ago and has been on an average 13 percent increase per year since. BUT With online beauty influencers leading this change, what exactly is their influence providing those seeking advice, reliable information and support ahead of such robust, expensive and life-altering decisions?
AAFPRS President, William H. Truswell, said that “More and more of our patients are using social media as a forum to gain a sense of solidarity when undergoing a major, potentially life-changing procedure. Consumers are only a swipe away from finding love and a new look, and this movement is only going to get stronger.” The main issue is that surgery influencers and advocates often represent only a fragment of the whole process; the final result, the beginning of a happier life; the start of self-confidence never experienced before. Just a few weeks ago the Evening Standard reported that “Superdrug launched its own Botox and fillers service” as a result of what “experts have linked to the popularity of Love Island.” Supposedly watching 20-year-olds with lip fillers frolicking around a villa in Spain for 8 weeks is enough to convince an entire generation of beauty-thirsty millennials that aesthetic surgery is the answer. And don’t get me wrong, it could be for some. But what I’m more concerned about is the information available on what these procedures really mean.
The kind of information currently circulating through botox advocates and Instagram surgeons like Dr Six and his peers happens to be much more hollow and at times inaccurate than we’re led to believe. Just two weeks ago, a study was published by Rutgers University—the first of its kind—titled ‘Assessment of YouTube as an Informative Resource on Facial Plastic Surgery Procedures’. The study saw researchers analysing thousands of “facial plastic surgery procedures, patient experiences, and medical commentary” on YouTube and Instagram to evaluate the “video quality and creator qualification”. By analysing the top 240 videos that came up to an array of keywords such as ‘lip fillers’, ‘facial fillers’ and ‘eyelid surgery’, researchers concluded that these videos accumulate a combined 158 million views. All the videos were given a credibility and reliability score from between 1 (very low) to 5 (high) and the results, worryingly yet somewhat unsurprisingly, ranged between 2.75 at the top range and 1.55 for the low ranking videos.
It’s hard to believe that watching DIY plastic surgery advice, procedure and before-and-after videos will have such visible influence on an entire generation. But when there’s no limitation and, crucially, no regulation in the era of influencers we are living through—essentially “The Age of Influence” as the cover of Business of Fashion’s May issue read under Kim Kardashian’s perfectly symmetrical face—the question is, what are the limits to influence?