What Are Collagen Injections, and How Do They Work?
Collagen is the main protein found in connective tissue. It supports the skin, bone, cartilage and blood vessels. Collagen composes up to 80 percent of the skin. Its role is to maintain the skin's integrity, but collagen breaks down with advancing age. The breakdown of collagen during the aging process can lead to wrinkles, lines and folds. Collagen injections replenish the skin's natural collagen.
Ideal Candidates for Collagen Injections
Optimal candidates for collagen injections are typically between the ages of 35 and 60 with frown lines, "crow's feet" and nasolabial folds or smile lines.People who should not receive collagen injections include those who are pregnant or nursing, people with allergies to cow products or lidocaine, or those with certain medical conditions such as autoimmune diseases.
Collagen injections are typically performed in the doctor's office. They are most often performed without anesthesia, although the collagen filler itself contains lidocaine, which is a local anesthetic. Collagen is injected with a tiny needle into the skin depressions. Several injections may be needed, depending on the length and depth of the wrinkle. The procedure takes less than an hour.
The points of injection are "scored" by the doctor with a pencil. Your doctor may select numerous injection points for each location slated for treatment. Antiseptic is also applied. Your doctor will then decide on the correct amount of collagen to be used. The collagen filler is injected into the marked points beneath the skin.
Recovery After Collagen Injections
You may experience some minimal discomfort from the collagen injection. There may be some swelling and bruising, which typically subsides within 48 hours. The treated area may look red for the first 24 hours, and this may last up to a week.
You can go home shortly after the procedure. The results are immediate and become fully evident within one week. In some cases, the treated area may appear to be overfilled initially. However, this will dissipate soon after to produce a more natural-looking appearance. Results may be unpredictable, lasting from two to three months.
You can resume normal activities immediately; however, it is advisable to stay out of the sun. Tell your doctor about any unmanageable pain or symptoms that are progressive or abnormal.
Complications and Risks of Collagen Injections
Complications from collagen fillers are typically minimal. Some possible complications include uneven texture of the skin, an allergic reaction, infection, abscess and scarring.
Alternative and Additional Treatments
While collagen is a good option, it is always a good idea to investigate alternative treatments. Other minimally invasive procedures include Botox, which may be complementary to collagen, or Restylane, which may be a better substitute for collagen. For more severe conditions, surgical procedures may be more appropriate, such as a facelift, forehead lift (brow lift) and blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery).
Your doctor may recommend additional treatments for you to consider in conjunction with collagen, such as a chemical peel, laser skin resurfacing, or microdermabrasion.
Consult a Qualified Doctor
Dermatologists and plastic surgeons may have extensive knowledge of and experience with collagen injections. However, some may not have expertise with selecting accurate injection points and proper dosage; or have familiarity with both human-based and bovine-based collagen fillers. Finding a doctor with specific experience in these areas is important for achieving optimal results for your condition.