Skin Discoloration After Filler – Addressing the Causes

Medically Reviewed
Medically Reviewed by Dr. Aurora Kalmanson on
Written by Fillers Editorial Team, plastic surgery specialists.

Skin discoloration following filler injections can present as erythema, hyperpigmentation, or an abnormal bluish tint known as dyspigmentation. While often temporary, these changes can cause distress and dissatisfaction.

The causes vary from the Tyndall effect, related to superficial placement, to post-inflammatory reactions. Understanding these discolorations, their underlying mechanisms, and appropriate prevention and treatment options is crucial for both patients and practitioners in cosmetic dermatology.

Understanding Skin Discoloration After Filler

Skin discoloration after filler treatments can be concerning for patients. Such changes in skin color can emerge from various factors associated with the filler material, technique used, or the individual’s response to the treatment.

Types of Skin Discoloration

Erythema (Redness): Immediate redness after filler injections is typically transient and expected as part of the body’s natural response to the procedure. However, persistent erythema could indicate a hypersensitivity or inflammatory reaction. In some cases, erythema may require treatment with medications or laser therapy, particularly when associated with symptoms like prolonged discomfort or cosmetic concerns. It’s important for clinicians to differentiate between normal post-injection erythema and signs suggestive of more serious complications.

Hyperpigmentation (Darkening): Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) after filler treatments can be distressing, particularly for those with darker skin types prone to such reactions. PIH typically appears as localized darkening at the injection site and might spread or intensify depending on the individual’s skin sensitivity and response. Treatment options range from topical agents, like hydroquinone and tretinoin, to more advanced procedures such as chemical peels or laser therapy. Careful technique and choice of filling agents play a crucial role in minimizing the risk of PIH.

Dyspigmentation (Bluish Hue): Characterized by a bluish discoloration under the skin, dyspigmentation is often the result of a phenomenon called the Tyndall effect. This occurs when light is scattered by filler particles placed too superficially, appearing blue through the skin. The condition can be worsened in thin-skinned areas, and it may persist unless addressed. Treatments include massage, hyaluronidase injections to dissolve the filler, or corrective laser therapy, with the choice of approach hinging upon the severity and duration of the issue.

Causes of Skin Discoloration

Superficial Filler Placement: A leading cause of discoloration, particularly dyspigmentation, is the injection of the filler material at a superficial level in the skin. This misplacement can lead to the Tyndall effect, where light refracts off the filler particles, casting an unsightly blueish hue. The issue often occurs when fillers intended for deeper skin layers are placed too close to the surface, underscoring the need for precise technique. To mitigate this risk, practitioners must ensure filler placement matches the recommended depth based on the product’s properties and the area being treated, especially in regions where the skin is already thin, such as around the eyes.

Injection Technique: The injection method used during the filler procedure is critical in preventing discoloration. Techniques that cause excessive trauma or lead to uneven distribution of the filler can result in localized inflammation, increasing the chance of post-procedural erythema or hyperpigmentation. Proper handling of the needle, injection speed, and the use of correct angles are essential to reduce the potential for discoloration. Practitioners should be well-versed in various techniques and adapt their approach to the individual patient’s skin type and the anatomical area of concern.

Inappropriate Filler Choice: Selecting the appropriate filler material is just as crucial as the injection method to avoid discoloration. Fillers vary in viscosity, particle size, and recommended depth of injection; using a product not suited for the intended area can significantly raise the likelihood of adverse outcomes like the Tyndall effect or hyperpigmentation. Clinicians must assess the patient’s skin characteristics, including thickness and texture, to determine the suitable type of filler that would blend smoothly and provide a natural appearance without eliciting discoloration.

Skin Sensitivity and Inflammation: Individual skin sensitivity and predisposition to inflammation play a significant role in the occurrence of skin discoloration post-filler injections. Patients with more reactive skin types, or conditions such as rosacea or dermatitis, may exhibit more pronounced redness or hyperpigmentation following treatment. Additionally, patients with higher melanin levels are at an increased risk for post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. To avoid such reactions, a thorough pre-procedural assessment is crucial, alongside strategies for minimizing inflammatory responses, such as gentle techniques and pre-treatment skin preparation.

Treating Skin Discoloration After Filler

Addressing skin discoloration after filler treatments involves several techniques, all aimed at restoring the original skin tone and texture while maintaining the enhancements delivered by the filler.

Immediate Interventions

Massage and Redistribution: If discoloration or unevenness in the filler’s appearance is detected shortly after injection, immediate massage and redistribution of the product might resolve the issue. Gentle, strategic massage can help integrate the filler more smoothly into the surrounding tissues, removing uneven distribution that could cause shadows or tinting. This intervention is often effective for minor disparities but must be conducted with expertise to avoid making the issue worse or causing additional trauma to the treated area.

Needle Extraction of Excess Filler: In cases where overfilling is suspected to have caused skin discoloration, needle extraction of the excess product can be a viable remedy. By making a tiny incision at the site or using a large-bore needle, a skilled clinician can delicately extract the superfluous filler. This technique requires precision and an intimate understanding of the anatomical planes of the face to ensure that only the excess product is removed without disturbing the desired contouring achieved by the filler.

Hyaluronidase Injections

Mechanism of Action: For instances of discoloration due to hyaluronic acid fillers, particularly the Tyndall effect, or lumps that massage cannot resolve, hyaluronidase injections might be necessary. Hyaluronidase is an enzyme that accelerates the breakdown of hyaluronic acid, effectively dissolving the unwanted filler. The action of hyaluronidase is targeted and begins to work soon after injection, significantly diminishing the appearance of discoloration and correcting filler placement errors. However, it must be applied wisely, as it can also affect the surrounding native hyaluronic acid.

Dosage and Administration: The effective use of hyaluronidase for the management of dermal filler complications hinges on the correct dosage and administration technique. Dosage can vary based on the amount and type of filler involved, as well as the patient’s response to the enzyme. Administering the right quantity to address discoloration without overcorrecting is a delicate balance; too little may be ineffective, while too much can dissolve the desired filler along with the excess. Providers commonly administer hyaluronidase in incremental doses, assessing the response before proceeding with additional treatments. The enzyme is carefully injected into the affected areas using a technique that ensures precise targeting and minimal discomfort.

Expected Results and Timeline: After hyaluronidase administration, patients can expect to see a reduction in unwanted filler within hours to a few days, with the most noticeable change occurring in the first 24 to 48 hours. The timeline for the final result, however, may vary depending on individual factors such as the amount of filler present and the body’s reaction to the enzyme. Patients should be informed of the anticipated progression of results, which may include the necessity for follow-up treatments to achieve the optimal correction of discoloration and contour irregularities.

Laser and Light-Based Treatments

Pulsed Dye Laser (PDL): The pulsed dye laser is renowned for its efficacy in treating vascular-related skin conditions, and its benefits extend to resolving discoloration associated with filler injections. By emitting a concentrated beam of light that targets blood vessels without harming surrounding tissue, the PDL can reduce persistent erythema. Treatment with PDL may require several sessions to achieve full resolution, and intervals between treatments are necessary for the skin to heal adequately. It’s a preferred modality for patients dealing with discoloration due to its precision and proven results.

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL): Intense Pulsed Light therapy offers a versatile solution to a spectrum of discoloration issues post-filler, including hyperpigmentation and erythema. By using a broad wavelength light to target melanin and oxyhemoglobin within the skin, IPL treatments can significantly lighten areas of discoloration. Depending on the specific concern and individual skin response, multiple sessions may be required, spaced out to allow for natural skin recovery. IPL is relatively non-invasive, producing gradual yet consistent results with minimal downtime.

Q-Switched Nd:YAG Laser: The Q-Switched Nd:YAG laser serves as an invaluable tool in the treatment of skin discoloration. With its capacity for selective photothermolysis, it is adept at clearing hyperpigmentation while preserving the integrity of the surrounding skin. The treatment may require multiple sessions, particularly when addressing deeply set or extensive areas of discoloration. It is a viable option for individuals seeking a balance between effectiveness and gentleness, especially for discoloration that proves recalcitrant to other forms of light-based treatments.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does skin discoloration after filler typically last?

Skin discoloration duration varies, with some issues going away in days, while others, like the Tyndall effect, may persist until treated.

Is skin discoloration after filler permanent?

Skin discoloration after filler is typically not permanent, with many options available for treatment and reversal.

Can skin discoloration after filler be prevented?

Yes, with proper technique, filler selection, and pre-treatment assessment, the likelihood of skin discoloration can be reduced.

Is it normal to have some redness after filler injections?

Yes, temporary redness immediately after filler injections is common and usually subsides within a few days.

How effective is hyaluronidase in treating skin discoloration after filler?

Hyaluronidase is very effective in treating unwanted hyaluronic acid filler, correcting discoloration related to filler placement.

Can makeup be used to cover skin discoloration after filler?

Yes, makeup can be used to temporarily cover skin discoloration after filler treatments.


In conclusion, filler-induced skin discoloration covers various types and causes, demanding a complex approach to prevention and treatment. Awareness of procedural nuances, patient-specific factors, and an accurate diagnosis are critical in addressing these complications. Long-term management emphasizes the importance of comprehensive skincare, healthy lifestyle adaptations, and ongoing professional monitoring, reinforcing the commitment to achieving and maintaining the desired esthetic outcomes safely and effectively.

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Vedamurthy M. (2018). Beware What You Inject: Complications of Injectables-Dermal Fillers.

Snozzi, P., & van Loghem, J. A. J. (2018). Complication Management following Rejuvenation Procedures with Hyaluronic Acid Fillers-an Algorithm-based Approach.

Dr. Aurora Kalmanson

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The information provided in this blog is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be interpreted as personalized medical advice. It's crucial to understand that while we are medical professionals, the insights and advice we provide are based on general research and studies. They are not tailored to individual health needs or conditions. Thus, it is essential to consult directly with a healthcare provider who can offer personalized medical advice relevant to your specific situation.