What To Expect When You Decide To Remove Your Fillers And Implants

Caveat emptor — 'let the buyer beware' in Latin — is an attitude we might need now more than ever to keep our investments safe. It applies to everything from buying a house to hiring the right business coach to getting facial implants or fillers from the right doctor. (We encourage you to take the extra step to research any major purchase to protect yourself from unfulfilled promises, bad workmanship, or outright fraud.) And hey, there's nothing wrong with getting cosmetic surgery or fillers. It's a self-esteem boost for many of us. 

Fillers have had a long run, and while they're not going away soon, many celebrities have been getting them dissolved. Courtney Cox sounded the alarm a few years ago, Blac Chyna recently documented her filler removal, and actress Melanie Griffith had some procedures reversed. It's refreshing to see older celebrities confront aging with confidence. But the truth is, not all fillers can be dissolved. If you haven't gotten fillers yet and you plan to reduce wrinkles or fine lines, keep in mind that the ones that can be dissolved are hyaluronic acid-based, which means Juvéderm, Restylane, or Belotero. They can be dissolved with hyaluronidase, the synthetic version of an enzyme we produce naturally. If your filler isn't the reversible kind, don't worry — it's not permanent anyway and will eventually recede.

Dissolving fillers: What to expect

People get fillers dissolved because they end up preferring a more natural look, the filler has migrated, causing asymmetry, or because of complications. To dissolve filler, the practitioner will need a high degree of precision while administering the hyaluronidase. This is why it's so important to only work with a physician, like a plastic surgeon or dermatologist, physician's assistant, nurse, or other medical professional, not a cosmetologist or anyone else who's unqualified. Unqualified practitioners don't know facial anatomy and that's what leads to scarring or worse. 

You can get rid of all the filler or just a portion of it to reduce bulkiness. Your practitioner will first patch test the hyaluronidase to make sure you're not allergic to it. They'll clean and numb the area, then inject it as close to the filler as possible. Expect some bruising post-procedure. Don't drink alcohol or apply makeup for 12 hours afterward, and avoid massaging your face.

Dermatologist Dr. Macrene Alexiadis shared with HuffPost that if too much hyaluronidase is delivered, it can create a dent. Conversely, your face may retain its plumpness without enough hyaluronidase. If you were over-injected with filler, you may need multiple sessions. Unfortunately, there are many Facebook groups filled with members who've had botched or less-than-desirable results. Some women reported to Daze Digital their session ended in pain and either indentations developed, lips became smaller than before the original filler was added, or they developed droopy skin. Some patients opt to re-add filler after dissolving it due to their appearance.

Reversing facial implants: what to expect

Chin, cheek, and nose implants are popular procedures, but there are many reasons people have them removed. We've adapted this list from Dr. David Sayah, a board-certified plastic surgeon.

Implants that have moved around, causing noticeable asymmetry, can either be repositioned or just removed. Chin implants can become infected and when antibiotics aren't a sufficient intervention, they have to go. Some implants may press on a nerve and need to be repositioned or taken out. People who smoke or have trouble healing from wounds might experience extrusion, meaning the implant becomes visible. Bone resorption occurs from pressure from a chin implant — there can be loss of bone density, mandible issues, and tooth loss. For certain clients, once they live with the implant for a while, they may find it too large or small and decide to swap it out for a different size or remove it altogether.

It's advisable to have the same surgeon who added the implant also remove it. Know that if a cheek implant is removed for being too large, your skin may sag. If so, some doctors may offer fat grafts to restore volume. Expect light sedation before surgery, then swelling and bruising afterward. You may need about two weeks or more of restful recovery time before going back to work, but it depends on the procedure. It's a good idea to ask a friend or family member to help you with basic self-care for the first couple of days post-op.

Retaining your sense of self

One way to retain your sense of self is to go ahead and get the fillers dissolved and the implants removed since you're returning to, hopefully, a closer approximation of how you originally looked. But with our natural aging process, skin that's become saggy or lax for a variety of reasons, excess filler to dissolve, or any kind of complication or infection, you may find you need to do some inner emotional work to cope with a new reality. Seek filler or plastic surgery support groups on social media platforms before you get any procedures done to research possible outcomes and to witness how people handle the results — or the mistakes — of the procedures. Expect emotional ups and downs and maybe even a feeling of being depressed if you end up looking different. If so, consider some short-term counseling with a therapist. 

You could always borrow an idea from job hunters: the informational interview. Locate people in a similar circumstance who've already had their procedure reversed, and ask if they wouldn't mind connecting by phone or video call for a heart-to-heart chat. We've noticed even women in their early 20s using fillers, probably from a combination of pressure from influencers, TikTok's face filters, and Hollywood's ageist attitudes toward women. But as we confront our obsession with how celebrities look and do a better job of letting them age gracefully, we can also apply that grace toward ourselves.