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What is a Collagen injection and who is an ideal candidate for the procedure?

Collagen injections are used to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles on the skin. This treatment is particularly effective in treating crow's feet, frown lines and nasolabial folds or smile lines. Collagen is used in many different dermal filler treatments that are currently available.

While collagen is probably the most widely known dermal filler, it is not the most commonly used as of late since other fillers have proven to be equally effective and longer lasting. However, cosmetic dermatologists may recommend collagen injections over other types of dermal fillers for various reasons based on the individual patient.

Collagen is a protein that is naturally produced by the body and works in the second layer of skin known as the dermis. Collagen assists with the growth of new cells and acts as a support structure for the skin. During the aging process, less collagen is produced by the body, resulting in skin with less elasticity and firmness. Fine lines and wrinkles begin to appear and the skin begins to succumb to the aging process. By injecting collagen into the dermis, the skin is rendered temporarily better able to repair itself, leaving a smoother surface with fewer lines and wrinkles.

Candidates for collagen injections include patients who are 35-60 years of age who wish to reduce the effects of aging on the skin. Patients should have realistic expectations for all cosmetic procedures and discuss their specific situation with an experienced cosmetic dermatologist. Nonsmokers tend to respond best to the treatment, since smoking can affect the production of collagen and the levels of oxygen available to the skin.

Collagen injections are not recommended for patients who are allergic to bovine (cow) ingredients, lidocaine or who are pregnant or nursing. Patients with autoimmune disorders should speak with a physician to find out if collagen injections are safe for them. Those with allergies to bovine ingredients may wish to try dermal fillers which do not include bovine collagen.

What benefits are associated with Collagen injections?

Collagen injections may provide a host of benefits to patients, including:

  • A decrease in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • A reduced appearance of mild scarring
  • An improvement in some facial contours
  • Plumper lips if the treatment is focused on this area

Collagen injections may be used on lines and wrinkles of the face, including frown lines, nasolabial folds and crow's feet.

What may be required before and after Collagen treatments and what is the recovery period?

Prior to receiving a treatment, patients may need to receive an allergy test for bovine collagen fillers like Zyderm and Zyplast. Collagen fillers that contain human collagen, such as CosmoDerm and Cosmoplast do not require an allergy test. The injections are usually given in a cosmetic dermatologist's office, and do not require the use of an anesthetic. Lidocaine is included in the formula for each injection which numbs the injection site and adds to patient comfort during the procedure.

The physician will mark the site of injection and apply an antiseptic to the area. The injections are performed with a fine needle directly into the skin depressions. The entire procedure is usually completed in a few minutes.

After the treatment, most patients may immediately return to normal activities, although there may be some temporary redness and swelling around the treated areas. Makeup may be applied shortly after treatment as long as no heavy pressure is applied to the treatment area. Generally there are no restrictions on activities or diet after collagen injections, but patients are instructed to avoid direct sun exposure for a few days.

What risks are associated with Collagen injections?

Dermal fillers with collagen involve little risk beyond the swelling, redness and mild discomfort that may be experienced around injection sites. Allergic reactions may occur from the filler formula, but this risk is greatly reduced by performing an allergy test prior to treatment.

As with any medical procedure, a slight risk of infection is always present. Patients may reduce such risks by choosing a physician who is experienced in collagen treatments and by following recovery instructions before and after treatments.

How much do Collagen injections cost?

The average cost of a single collagen syringe runs about $300-$400. Most treatments require the use of at least 1-2 syringes. This cost also varies based on the clinic location and how many syringes are used during treatment.

Treatments are usually repeated three or four times a year to maintain satisfactory results. In most cases, health insurance providers will not cover the cost of collagen injections due to their cosmetic nature. However, clinics may offer payment plans to their patients to help finance certain cosmetic procedures.

Disclaimer: This information is intended only as an introduction to this procedure. This information should not be used to determine whether you will have the procedure performed nor does it guarantee results of your elective surgery. Further details regarding surgical standards and procedures should be discussed with your physician.

By Staff
Updated: December 4, 2008

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