Non-surgical Procedures

Too much filler: Are dermal fillers overused?

Article medically reviewed by Dr. Gavin Chan (MBBS, cosmetic doctor, liposuctionist)

Templestowe Lower, Berwick and Beaumaris Clinics

Dr. Gavin Chan has a background in intensive care, anaesthesia, and emergency medicine. Since 2005, Dr. Chan has provided cosmetic procedures, including anti-wrinkle injections, dermal fillers, liposuction and laser treatments. He is a doctor trainer for various dermal fillers and anti-wrinkle injections. Read More

When used correctly, fillers decrease the visibility of facial lines and wrinkles and can be used to plump lips and enhance cheeks. A skilled medical practitioner will understand the natural contours of the patient’s face and enhance their natural features. 

Too much hyaluronic acid filler can result in overly round facial contours that appear unnatural or uneven. This blog post will cover what happens when too much dermal filler has been injected, what too much filler looks like, dermal filler longevity and how to prevent overfilling in faces.

What happens if you get too much filler?

As the popularity of facial filler surges, someone who does not completely understand the patient’s facial proportions can inject in the wrong area, causing unwanted puffiness.

What does too much filler look like?

Facial fillers, whether it is nose fillers, lip fillers or cheek fillers, can sometimes be incorrectly placed, leading to a volume overload. I’m sure you’ve seen it before, and in most cases, it’s due to excessive dermal filler injections. This can affect the overall facial anatomy, causing the appearance of a pillow face.

This can cause issues like:

  • overly puffy cheeks, pillow cheeks, apple cheeks or chipmunk cheeks
  • witch’s chin
  • bulging forehead
  • bee-stung eye look
  • puffy lips

But why does this happen, and who is to blame? Is it the patient asking for more? Or the doctor for agreeing and injecting more? Or both?

How long do fillers last in the face?

Honestly, until a few years ago, I must admit that I was a part of this problem. Little did I know the potential risks of using these so-called ‘temporary fillers‘. Until a few things opened my eyes to the potential problems.

About 2 years ago, I had some issues with filler that stuck around much longer than the 6-12 months that we believed they lasted. In fact, it was about 7 years that my patient had to put up with these puffy lower eyelids from filler injections that I had performed. 

With the help of cosmetic doctor and radiologist Dr Mobin Master, we investigated this case and many others since then and found that filler, on MRI scans, can last many years.

The possibility that temporary fillers lasted this long was my biggest wake-up call.

Instantly, I started injecting less filler, less frequently. I now treat ‘temporary’ fillers more like they could be there for years. 

Fillers could last for years

Unfortunately, despite publishing several YouTube videos on the topic, it is still not widely accepted that fillers could last for years. As a result, many cosmetic practitioners still unknowingly inject filler in amounts and frequencies that lead to overfilling. 

What can lead to overfilling?

I recently also published a YouTube video on the potential patient and doctor factors that could lead to overfilling. I concluded that we should be using fillers more carefully and judiciously, but I didn’t give a definitive solution.

How do I fix too much filler?

Both medical practitioners and patients should have realistic expectations and understandings of what cosmetic results should look like. Having a consultation with a medical practitioner can help determine what treatments will suit you. They can also provide a tailored treatment plan.

Here are three ways that we can prevent overfilling in faces:

Focus less on excessive filling

I think the first step is to take our focus away from filling, filling, and more filling. Studies by plastic surgeon Val Lambros found that facial volume is not significantly affected by ageing. So the argument to fill for anti-ageing may be limited. 

Maintain a holistic approach 

We need to take a more holistic approach and not forget things such as improving the health and appearance of the skin. Skin treatments including medical grade skin care, lasers, and peels can help with this. Looking at ways to stimulate collagen in the skin should also be considered.

Alternative treatments

In 2022, a new collagen-stimulating or bio-remodelling treatment was released for the skin. Ironically, they are made from the same base ingredient as dermal filler (hyaluronic acid). However, they do not ‘fill’ the face. Instead, they stimulate the production of new collagen and improve the skin without adding volume. It’s the filler that doesn’t fill! 

It’s been a long time since we have had anything as revolutionary as this treatment. This possibly could have fostered dependence on treatments such as dermal fillers and led to problems such as overfilling. 

I’m not advocating that we stop using dermal fillers altogether. They have their place when used carefully and appropriately.

Where to get dermal fillers in Melbourne?

If you are looking to have cosmetic treatments, like dermal fillers, then our friendly team in Melbourne can help you. 

At the Victorian Cosmetic Institute, we have similar-minded practitioners who can help to advise you on the various treatments available and which ones are suitable for you.

Making the first phone call to book your appointment can be daunting, so many patients prefer to book online. Alternatively, you can call us on 1300 863 824