Original Article By Sarah Kinonen
You saved up for months, asked everyone in your inner circle (and beyond) for advice, and now, after a few minutes with your cosmetic dermatologist, you've got yourself a brand-new set of lips à la lip injections. But what happens if, days later, you decide you don't like them? Turns out, that unwanted hyaluronic acid filler can actually be removed — dissolved, technically speaking — which is something not many people are made aware of during the injection process. All you need it another injection, called hyaluronidase.
"Hyaluronidase is an enzyme that we all have in our bodies," Min S. Ahn, a facial plastic surgeon based in Boston. "In commercial form, it is a liquid that, when injected under the skin, dissolves hyaluronic acid into the body — within a few hours." Quick refresher: Hyaluronic acid is the gel that makes up the most commonly used fillers, like Juvéderm and Restylane, says Ahn. "So, by breaking down hyaluronic acid, hyaluronidase can be used to 'reverse' those fillers — to create a clean slate."
The treatment itself is virtually painless and takes only a few seconds to administer. "The enzyme works quickly — the material starts to dissolve immediately, and is completely done within 24 to 48 hours," he says. However, he warns, those with bee allergies should tread lightly — and talk with your doctor — before signing up for a hyaluronidase-based procedure, as the enzyme is also highly prevalent in bee venom.
"If you are allergic to bees, you may also be allergic to hyaluronidase," says Ahn. "If you are allergic, you may be at risk of an allergic reaction and therefore may not be a good candidate for its use." If you aren't sure if you're allergic, Ahn recommends having your doctor perform a patch test on your forearm and cheek to check for any signs of allergy (redness, swelling, etc.).
Stafford Broumand, a New York City-based plastic surgeon, says he often administers hyaluronidase to patients from other offices with "poorly placed" or "overly full" filler. "With fillers, you should always see someone who has expertise and experience with injecting the product," says Broumand. "It is the solution for people who are not happy with filler."
While Ahn's practice, the Aesthetic Wellness Center in Boston, offers the treatment free of charge, Broumand says the procedure typically ranges in price from $200 to $500. The cost of surgery satisfaction, though? Priceless.