Insights into imaging 2017 10 04() doi 10.1007/s13244-017-0575-0
Injectable fillers are widely used for facial rejuvenation, correction of disabling volumetric fat loss in HIV-associated facial lipoatrophy, Romberg disease, and post-traumatic facial disfiguring. The purpose of this article is to acquaint the reader with the anatomy of facial fat compartments, as well as with the properties and key imaging features of commonly used facial fillers, filler-related complications, interpretation pitfalls, and dermatologic conditions mimicking filler-related complications. The distribution of facial fillers is characteristic and depends on the anatomy of the superficial fat compartments. Silicone has signature MRI features, calcium hydroxyapatite has characteristic calcifications, whereas other injectable fillers have overlapping imaging features. Most fillers (hyaluronic acid, collagen, and polyalkylimide-polyacrylamide hydrogels) have signal intensity patterns compatible with high water content. On PET-CT, most fillers show physiologic high FDG uptake, which should not be confounded with pathology. Abscess, cellulitis, non-inflammatory nodules, and foreign body granulomas are the most common filler-related complications, and imaging can help in the differential diagnosis. Diffusion weighted imaging helps in detecting a malignant lesion masked by injected facial fillers. Awareness of imaging features of facial fillers and their complications helps to avoid misinterpretation of MRI, and PET-CT scans and facilitates therapeutic decisions in unclear clinical cases.
• Facial fillers are common incidental findings on MRI and PET-CT scans. • They have a characteristic appearance and typical anatomic distribution • Although considered as safe, facial filler injections are associated with several complications • As they may mask malignancy, knowledge of typical imaging features is mandatory. • MRI is a problem-solving tool for unclear cases.