What is hyaluronidase?
Hyaluronidase is a type of enzyme existing naturally in the human body. It functions by breaking down the natural membranous barriers in tissues. Once the membranes are broken down, injected solutions can penetrate easily into the targeted cells without losing important bioavailability.
What is hyaluronidase injection used for?
As hyaluronidase serves as an excellent agent in increasing tissue permeability, it is widely used in various medical procedures:
- Reducing excessive bleeding after childbirth;
- Improving contrast of dyes in the body for better X-ray results;
- Improving penetration of solutions administered via subcutaneous injections;
- Improving penetration of local anaesthetics administered in the eyes or fractures.
Hyaluronidase also has an important role in aesthetic treatments whereby it is used to break down hyaluronic acid-based dermal fillers. Sometimes, patients may not be completely satisfied with the results of filler injections. They can then choose hyaluronidase treatments to effectively disintegrate any undesirable filler gel.
A hyaluronidase injectable usually exists in powder form that must be reconstituted with a preservative-free normal saline or even the solution that needs to be injected before being administered into targeted areas. Medical practitioners must perform a skin test first before injecting to ensure that patients are not allergic to hyaluronidase. Some conditions and medications will only amplify the effects of hyaluronidase resulting in dangerous effects.
Hence, physicians must avoid using hyaluronidase under certain circumstances:
- Do not use it to treat swelling caused by stings or bites;
- Do not use it if infections or malignancy is present;
- Do not use it in intravenous injections;
- Do not use it if patients are on certain medications (e.g. aspirin, antihistamines, furosemide, etc.).
Hyaluronidase injection side effects
Patients may exhibit some side effects caused by hyaluronidase injections.
Common side effects
- Localised inflammatory reactions (e.g. redness, swelling, stinging, bleeding, blistering, discolouration, pain, lumps, etc.).
These effects occur as the body is adjusting to the medicine and may not require treatment.
Serious side effects
- Allergic reactions (e.g. hives, dizziness, difficulty of breathing/swallowing/talking, weakness, etc.).
- Overdose (e.g. chills, confusion, irregular heartbeat, blurred vision, nausea, vomiting, etc.).
The abovementioned reactions are serious and must be treated immediately. Always read the product information pamphlet and review the patient’s medical history thoroughly to maintain an excellent patient safety profile.