There are two types of people in this world: Those who jump for joy at the first mention of Botox or facial fillers, and those who at least pause at the idea of a needle coming within inches of their faces. For the needle-brave among us, injectables carry the allure of impressively smooth results that make the pinch well worth it. But as one might expect from a needle to the face, injections can also result in temporary skin irritation or bruising around the poked area. If you’ve weighed the pros and cons of Botox and are very much on board, but want to know how to calm your skin when getting injectables, read on.
The good thing is that while swelling is common, it tends to dissipate within a few hours after treatment for most people. However, there are still a few things you can do before, during, and after the procedure to help keep it to a minimum. Above all? Make sure you're seeing a doctor you trust. In cases of over-treatment or poor practice, Botox or fillers can carry a range of side effects from drooping of the lip or eyelid to possible blockage of blood vessels, which could lead to much more serious complications. This is rare — but it just goes to show why it's exceptionally important to get treated by someone who is very knowledgeable about the anatomy of the face, and injects often.
With the right techniques, you can minimize the bruising, redness, or swelling that is most typical after getting injectable treatments. Whether you’re still on the fillers fence or planning your zillionth injectable treatment, these best practices and tips from experts will help calm your skin so you can move on to enjoying the results as soon as possible.
Know What To Avoid
Experts say that using certain medications and supplements before your procedure can actually increase your chances of bruising. "Every time you put a needle in someone's face, there's a risk of hitting a blood vessel," Massachusetts-based dermatologist Papri Sarkar, M.D., tells The Zoe Report. "Most of those times you don't get any bruising, but the risk of getting a bruise is much higher if your body can't adequately form clots. Medications like aspirin, Advil, and Motrin inhibit platelet function, and one function of platelets is to initiate clotting in areas where it's needed.
Sarkar adds that similarly, things like garlic supplements and high doses of vitamin E "are thought to increase the risk of bleeding, so I recommend stopping them at least one week before an injectable appointment.”
Know What To Take
There are steps you can take instead to decrease your inflammation post-poke. "I like to recommend antioxidants like vitamin C, which can help increase iron uptake into cells and improve the skin-healing processes like wound healing," Beverly Hills-based cosmetic dermatologist Jason Emer, M.D., tells TZR. Some experts also recommend taking bromelain (pineapple enzyme), or arnica supplements for a few days prior to treatment. "These two homeopathic agents are derived from fruit and plants to aid the body in reducing bruising and remedying it much faster," Danielle Stark, a certified physician's assistant in Emer's office, tells TZR. Definitely talk to your doctor before your procedure to discuss the best pre-treatment strategy for you.
Ask About Microdermabrasion
Some dermatologists take it one step further and perform their own skin-calming techniques prior to administering injectables. "First, our medical aestheticians cleanse the skin and perform a thorough microdermabrasion to slough away dead skin cells and improve skin texture and luminosity," Anne Chapas, board-certified dermatologist and medical director at Union Square Laser Dermatology, tells TZR. When followed by Botox, “these two modalities are a winning combination for glowing, smooth skin.”
Ask Your Doctor About Their Tools
It can be helpful (and comforting) to know the techniques and tools that experts use to help keep your skin calm and comfortable, right down to the type of needle. "I often opt for blunt tip dermal filler cannula needles, which slide through the skin layers rather than cutting through tissue and vessels like traditional sharp needles," Chapas says. “With less tissue damage and improved maneuverability, filler injections with blunt tip cannulas are performed with less pain and less bruising,” she adds.
Location, Location, Location
Chapas also employs the help of an AccuVein vein finder light which allows her to easily detect, map, and avoid veins that are undetectable to the human eye. "It guides me in my injections, particularly in delicate areas of the face like the tear trough, nasolabial folds, and lips that are more prone to bruising," she says. This type of optimized site selection helps your provider avoid blood vessels, which means less chance of bruising and thus shorter recovery time. "There are lots of blood vessels in the face and neck, and going to someone who knows where the vessels generally are, and is used to avoiding them, leads to far less bruising," Sarkar says.
Remember, Ice Is Your Friend
Icing right after your procedure can also help reduce bruising and swelling. "Ice will help to decrease swelling if applied immediately, but everyone bruises differently," Stark says. "For example, if someone takes blood thinners, they may experience more bruising." She recommends icing 20 minutes every hour following your procedure.
With many hyaluronic fillers, patients can experience dry skin in and around the injected area for the first few days. "Since skin is typically prepped with anti-septic agents like Hibiclens, alcohol, or acetone to ensure a clean working surface, skin can be left dry by the end of the treatment," Stark says. Her fix: a hydrating moisturizer with hyaluronic acid administered immediately post-procedure, while the patient is still in the office. "Using a hyaluronic acid moisturizer or serum gives your skin a nice drink of water," she says. Hydrating masks with biocellulose can also help to facilitate the recovery process. According to Emer, "The unique fibers of a biocellulose mask distribute heat-reducing water to the disrupted barrier" — by which he means your newly injected skin — "alleviating discomfort and providing immediate relief."
Trust The Process
Remember, some swelling is definitely normal. "Providers try to minimize bruising and [the number of] needle pokes as much as possible, but the best result is important, and sometimes that requires additional pokes," Stark says. "Although I go to great lengths to reduce risk of temporary bruising, it is a risk with any injectables," Chapas adds.
Once you are home, the golden rule is to take it easy. "Use this as an excuse to skip the gym. Increasing your heart rate creates added circulation, and increased blood flow means more swelling," Stark says. This also means no jacuzzi or sauna. "Instead, place a sheet mask in the refrigerator, apply it to the face, and relax." That doesn't sound so bad after all, now does it?