As the years go by, our experiences and joys of living leave beautiful fine lines that tell various stories. They tell the inevitable stories of life aging processes. Sometimes frown lines, other times smile lines, but whatever they may be, soon enough, the skin sags, and some wrinkles join the party.
And that’s the activity of the collagen protein. We produce surplus collagen in the body from birth; it keeps the skin plump, elastic, and radiant. However, at some point, they stop being produced within the body (1). And we don’t want that! With collagen, the skin stays smooth, firm, and young.
Despite the decreased production, there is a need for collagen and its activities in the body, and collagen injections come to the rescue. Collagen injections get rid of all these time-factored issues, improves your skin appearance and your youthful beauty. In this article, we explore everything you should know to decide on this cosmetic skin procedure in detail. Also, what to do – during, before, and after the process.
There are specific proteins that perform maximum activities at different parts of the body, for example, keratin, the protein found in hair. Collagen is the protein found in the skin. This protein forms a network of fibers that provides the framework for the growth of cells and blood vessels. It is responsible for skin elasticity and strength. It is also found in the connective tissues, the cartilage, tendons, and bones, but primarily in the skin (2).
What do Collagen Injections mean?
The collagen protein supports skin elasticity when the body stops its natural production leading to the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, and skin imperfections. Then collagen may be taken in as skin fillers through a procedure referred to as collagen injection.
Collagen injections are fillers that are inserted into the skin. The process involves injecting the fillers into the skin – specifically the tissues below the surface layer, a cosmetic process carried out by a professional dermatologist (3).
It replenishes the collagen needs of our skin filling in the fine lines around targeted facial features. Collagen injections are formulated with lidocaine – a local anesthetic, which ensures the procedure is painless.
This injection procedure results in efficient contouring of the face, smoother, better defined, and youthful skin. In addition, it is reportedly one of the safest ways to improve skin appearance. This procedure may be carried out alone or alongside other surgeries such as Facelift and brow lift.
Who is the ideal candidate for a collagen injection procedure?
You may be an ideal candidate for this injection procedure if …
- Have you noticed creases on your forehead or more pronounced creases and would like them removed.
- You are aged between 35 to 60 years old
- You have flexible skin
- You do not have underlying health conditions, especially those that may result in complications such as autoimmune diseases.
- You seek to enhance your skin appearance with aging
- You do not have an allergy to collagen, bovine, and lidocaine
- You are not pregnant or nursing a baby (4).
Reasons for a collagen injection procedure
Because collagen injection is not medically necessary, your decision to carry out the procedure must be self-decided. And here are some reasons for which you may consider the collagen injection procedure
- To replenish your natural skin collagen supply and trigger new production
- To fill in wrinkle lines – could be nasolabial fold or frown lines
- To plump out your lips, adding fullness and voluminous volume
- To improve your skin appearance.
- To plump and smoothen out scars.
- To remove fine lines in specific areas mouth, nose, eyes, and forehead.
- To replenish and reawaken your skin suppleness
- To fill in acne scars
In what parts of the body can collagen injection be made?
- Acne scars
- Stretch marks – stretch marks are caused by sudden skin stretches and shrinks. This causes collagen ruptures and results in skin scars. Collagen injection may help the skin through its healing processes (5).
Types of Collagen treatment Injections
There are three broad categories of collagen injection: bovine treatment, human treatment, and hybrid treatment.
1. The Bovine treatment – Cow collagen fillers
- In the bovine treatment, the collagen fillers used are not from humans. Instead, they are obtained from cow skins, purified, sterilized, and liquefied for cosmetic procedures.
- They include zyderm and zyplast and are the least expensive forms of collagen treatment.
- The collagen is not human-derived, hence using these fillers possess more allergic reaction exposures.
- The results of this treatment are immediate. However, they tend to fade off more quickly than that human collagen. Lasts about 6 to 12 weeks.
2. Human Treatment
You may be allergic to bovine; if this is the case, your doctor will discuss further options. This treatment has various categories.
- The Autogen– Here, the collagen fillers are extracted from your own body during another surgical procedure. The extracted fillers are purified, sterilized, and liquefied for the collagen injection procedure. There are near zero risks of allergy with this process, as the collagen is obtained from your skin.
- The Isolagen – This is the most expensive collagen treatment as it involves an extensive laboratory process to create collagen from your tissues. Although collagen is also obtained from your skin – it is not done directly like the autogen process. Instead, it goes through the specific process of cloning collagen–making cells from the skin behind your ears. The collagen filling injection in this process is performed in intervals, and results improve consistently during the processes—the yielded results last way longer periods.
- The Dermalogen – Here, the collagen fillers are obtained from deceased human donors, purified, sterilized, and liquefied for use.
- We also have the cosmoderm and cosmoplast, also human collagen fillers.
3. Hybrid Collagen Treatment
This is the near-permanent collagen fill.
- The Artefill, also known as Bellafill or artecoll. A hybrid mix of homogeneous polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) microspheres – tiny plastic spheres and bovine collagen. The near-permanent results it yields are attributed to its mechanism of action. This ensures that as the injected collagen gets broken down, the plastic spheres remain in place, maintain their yielded results, and trigger your natural collagen production.
- The Sculptra Aesthetic is not a collagen filling procedure; rather, it is a collagen stimulator with an active ingredient called poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA). This active ingredient, when absorbed in the body, acts as a trigger to stimulate collagen production. Depending on how much collagen is lost in your body, you may need 3 to 4 injections. However, the result may last as long as two years or longer – for as much time it takes for the PLLA synthetic material to be broken down.
The Processes – What to expect before, during, and after the procedure
After you have decided to carry out the collagen injection procedure and had extensive discussions with your doctor – on allergies, medicines, supplements, and possible risks, the following processes may occur.
- Your doctor will carry out a series of tests, including allergy tests, to ensure you are not sensitive to any of the substances you may be exposed to during the process.
- Clinical preventive measures are put in place to reduce possible risks and complications and ensure the process yields its intended results.
- You may be required to sign an informed consent form.
- A skin test will be carried out for allergy. This involves injecting collagen fillers into an inconspicuous part of your body, such as your forearm, and monitoring for reactions for one month. If any reaction occurs, it does not mean you are not a good candidate for collagen injection; rather, it means further findings will be carried out to choose the collagen treatment procedure better suited for you.
- If there are no visible reactions on the forearm yields, then the procedure may proceed.
- You may have specific guidelines regarding your nutrition and diet plans, smoking and drinking habits, and medication intake.
- The collagen injection procedure is straightforward and may take less than one hour to be completed.
- Pictures of your face may be taken and an outline made on the targeted areas of your skin – the points of injection.
- Your face or targeted body part will be cleaned up and prepared using antibacterial cleansers to reduce the risks of infections.
- The collagen fillers usually contain local anesthesia – lidocaine, administered for a painless procedure.
- Using small needles, the collagen fillers are injected into your targeted skin areas. This injection is carried out using two techniques. The serial puncture technique – where small punctures are made and the targeted skin areas and small quantities of collagen injected into each puncture point. The Fanning or Linear threading technique. Here the entirety of the needle is inserted into the target skin area, and the collagen filler is released in bits, slowly as the needle makes its way in or out of the area (6).
These injected fillers get absorbed by the targeted skin areas and get to work, filling in and erasing wrinkles, facial lines, and other intended skin issues.
- The procedure may be completed within an hour.
- There may be puffiness, bruising, or tenderness of the skin after the procedure, this will go down after a few days, and visible results will be noticed.
- You may return to your regular schedule as soon as possible, with no extended post-surgical stay.
- You may expect smooth, line-free, young facial skin with better contouring.
- The yielded results may last anywhere from weeks to months, even to years, depending on the collagen treatment adopted.
- Your body will absorb the collagen filler injected; for some collagen treatment, this triggers the natural production of collagen by the body resulting in a longer stay of yielded results.
- You will need routine touch-ups to maintain yielded results.
The cost of Collagen varies significantly between USD 300-800 per session depending on the type of treatment and other factors.
Possible Risks and Side Effects
Usually, a little portion of the intended collagen filler is injected into an inconspicuous part of your body and monitored for as long as possible, even up to a month. Hence reactions, risks, and effects are not as common. However, they exist, and some of them may include
- Skin discomfort – redness, swellings, bruising, bleeding
- Infection at the target site of injection.
- Allergic reactions.
- Skin itchiness, peeling, burning, throbbing, and rashes
- Scarring of skin
- Skin wounds and open sores – This occurs if the injection needle penetrates beyond the desired level resulting in a blood vessel break.
- Blindness – Rare but occurs when the injection is too close to the eyes.
Collagen injection is a cosmetic procedure that involves injecting collagen fillers to target skin areas. Collagen is the skin protein that supports skin elasticity and suppleness. This filling intends to take care of skin issues such as wrinkles, and facial lines. This procedure is carried out by a professional surgeon or dermatologist. And the results are immediate, resulting in a smoother, well-contoured, young-looking skin. Collagen fillers may be bovine – from cow skin, human, or a hybrid. Extensive discussions should be had with your doctor covering allergies, medications, and health history such that you conclude the best collagen treatment for your skin. Collagen injection is a cosmetic surgery and is not medically necessary. Hence all decisions as regards carrying out the procedure or not are entirely up to you and for aesthetics purposes.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How long would the yielded results from collagen injection last?
This depends on the collagen treatment option taken. It could last for weeks, and some treatments may last up to years. However, the procedure requires routine follow-up with the health care professional.
How long does the procedure take?
The collagen injection procedure usually takes less than 60 minutes to complete. This also depends on the targeted skin areas to be injected.
Can you stop your skin from having lines?
Your everyday activity generates the lines. The collagen framework maintains skin elasticity, suppleness, and strength. However, as you age, the collagen production in the skin reduces, and this supporting framework structure starts to weaken. As a result, you smile, frowns, squint, laughter, and all expressions that stretch the skin exerts more stress on the weakening collagen structure and leaves fine lines on your face. You cannot stop these fine lines.
Does the collagen injection procedure hurt?
The procedure is carried out using local anesthetics and sometimes ice cubes. All measures are put in place to ensure a painless procedure.