Cosmetic fillers are a popular anti-aging solution, but plastic surgeons and dermatologists will not administer this form of treatment for patients with autoimmune disease. Thyroid disease, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis are common types of autoimmune disease.
What Are Cosmetic Fillers?
Cosmetic fillers, technically called dermal fillers, are injections of either hyaluronic acid or collagen (both natural skin substances) into the skin to plump it up in order to diminish lines, wrinkles or scars.
With autoimmune disease, the immune system mistakenly attacks itself, resulting in illness. This type of disease affects the body’s connective tissue, and may also affect the nerves, muscles, digestive system and endocrine system and digestive system.
Dermal fillers are injected in gel form, and either are eventually absorbed by the body (hyaluronic acid), dissolve over time (some forms of collagen), or bind to the tissues and collagen (porcine collagen). Although these substances are regarded as “natural” skin components, they are not naturally produced in the body, and therefore risk reaction and/or rejection.
Dermal fillers affect connective tissues, which are a source of problems for autoimmune disease patients. If an autoimmune disease patient risks a dermal filler injection, and the body reacts to the foreign substance, the reaction could cause a domino effect, from a faulty immune system reaction leading to illness, to a serious allergic reaction that affects the skin, nerves, muscles, endocrine system and digestive system.
Fillers as a Cause of Autoimmune Disease
A controversial topic exists in the medical field over whether there are certain cosmetic collagen injection procedures that actually cause autoimmune disease, although studies as of late 2009 have not yet provided enough data to confirm or disprove the hypothesis. It has gained FDA attention.
References and ResourcesWomen's Health: Autoimmune Diseases
Northeast Dermatology Associates, P.A.: COLLAGEN, 2009
Consumer Guide to Plastic Surgery: "Collagen Injections – Benefits, Cost & Side Effects" Reviewed by Mitchel Goldman, MD, October 2008