Sunday, November 8, 2015

Collagen Injections: the basics

What are collagen injections? 

This is a procedure where bovine collagen, taken from cowhide, is injected into the furrows of deep lines and wrinkles of the face. The most commonly injected areas are the nasolabial lines (laugh lines), fine lines around the lips and corners of the mouth, and the vertical lines between the eyebrows (worry lines).

The collagen acts like a filler to plump up the depression caused by a wrinkle, making the line (wrinkle) temporarily disappear. The actual procedure will cause redness in the injected area along with temporary bruising and a bit of swelling. These minor reactions will usually go away within the first 24 hours.

In all of the literature written about collagen injections, two main points are repeated. First, collagen injections are a quick and easy “fix.” This procedure will give you the fastest results with a minimum of complications. However, it also is a very short-lived fix, and you have to be reinjected frequently to continue the results.

The price of collagen varies from doctor to doctor, but the cost of one syringeful starts at around $500. Since you have to constantly repeat this procedure to maintain the benefits, collagen treatments can get quite costly. Three to nine months is the life span of collagen injected into the skin. It is reabsorbed at varying speeds, but as much as 30% is reabsorbed within the first three months after the injection.

In addition to the high cost, there is another problem—the potential for allergic reactions. Around 3% of the general public is allergic to bovine collagen. I’ve read that if you have an intolerance to beef and other bovine products, you will most likely have a reaction to cow collagen. Therefore, before having collagen injected for cosmetic purposes, you will always be tested for allergic reactions. Usually the collagen test is in the forearm, and sometimes it’s behind the hairline, on the scalp. A second, follow-up test is standard practice with many doctors—just in case you have a delayed reaction to the first test. This precaution is taken because experiencing an allergic reaction to collagen would be disastrous!

If you are allergic to cowhide collagen or you just don’t want the bovine experience, you can use your body’s own collagen, which is called autologous collagen. Surgery is required to obtain this type of collagen, usually from the upper thighs or buttocks. The potential problem is that if you continue to get regular treatments with autologous collagen, more of your collagen will need to be donated. This requires more surgery to transplant, then more injections into your wrinkles. In the long run, is it worth all the trouble?

Collagen injections should only be administered by a licensed doctor, usually a dermatologist or plastic surgeon. You want to make sure to find a doctor who does a lot of these injections. Accuracy is imperative for proper results.

For more information on “anti-aging” procedures, see: