Vascular Occlusion: it doesn’t have to be as scary as it sounds. When doing your research for a new injector, one of the most important questions you should be asking is, “Do you have a vascular occlusion protocol?” Don’t let their front desk staff tell you they don’t need it, because they are “that great.” Vascular occlusions can happen to anyone; regardless of experience and expertise.
A vascular occlusion occurs when filler is injected into a blood vessel. Occlusions can also occur when a significant amount of filler is injected near a blood vessel, which compromises blood flow. Blockage of blood vessels for prolonged periods can result in tissue death, so it is imperative that occlusions are treated immediately. Every cosmetic injector’s protocol will vary, however Hyaluronidase/Hylenex is used to dissolve the filler and alleviate pressure on the occluded vessel.
The most common signs of an occlusion are severe pain (and we are talking severe pain, not soreness from being poked by a needle), prolonged blanching, purple discoloration and coolness. Blanching is when the affected area looks very pale, white, or dusky due to the lack of blood supply. When in doubt, you can always use your finger to press firmly on the area you think has been affected; if the blood supply returns after 3 seconds, you are not experiencing an occlusion. If you have any concerns, you should contact your injector immediately as vascular occlusions do not always happen right away. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!
Hyaluronidase is an enzyme that catalyses the degradation of hyaluronic acid. In simpler terms: Hyaluronidase dissolves the filler that was injected, but will leave your body’s own Hyaluronic Acid. Fillers like Radiesse, Bellafill and Sculptra are not made up of Hyaluronic Acid and cannot be dissolved. This is absolutely something you should discuss with your injector before choosing which product is for you. You cannot have Hyaluronidase and new filler injected in the same visit, as the Hyaluronidase won’t be able to tell the difference between the new filler and the old filler. We recommend waiting two weeks after Hyaluronidase treatment to receive another filler treatment.
There isn’t one area of the face that is “safer” than others when it comes to injections. All areas should be treated with the same anatomical respect and knowledge. At ZONA Med Spa, our nurses are trained extensively on how to appropriately handle a vascular occlusion. Our protocol is posted in each treatment room, Hyaluronidase is always in an abundance stock, and we even have an emergency kit put together that has all the necessary supplies to immediately treat an occlusion. Rest assured, when you choose ZONA Med Spa for your cosmetic needs, you are in the best hands.
Please note, this blog was not written to scare you, but to educate you. Vascular occlusions are a rare occurrence but they can happen, and your injector should be prepared in the event that you need immediate care.