(Soft Tissue Filling)
A collagen injection is a cosmetic procedure that can soften some signs of aging on your face. As you get older, your face begins to lose some of its fullness and wrinkles usually appear. How your face ages depends on factors including your genes, if you smoke, and how much sun exposure you’ve had.
Although everyone's face may age a little differently, it's normal to lose some of the skin's fullness when the skin protein called collagen breaks down. A collagen injection puts collagen directly into lines and wrinkles to plump them up and give you a more youthful look.
As your skin ages and collagen breaks down, wrinkles, frown lines, and fine lines start to show up. Although collagen injections will not stop your skin from aging, they can soften these age signs.
Human collagen or animal collagen may be used. Cosmoderm and Cosmoplast are collagen products made from human sources. Zyderm and Zyplast are made from cow proteins. The results of these injections may last up to four months. Newer products for cosmetic injection are being developed that may last longer.
Collagen injections are usually done right in a doctor's office. Medical specialists who offer these treatments include dermatologists and plastic surgeons.
Reasons for the procedure
Collagen injections can:
Make your lips look fuller
Fill in hollow cheeks
Fill in facial wrinkles
Fill in facial creases
Fill in some types of scars, such as acne scars
Risks of the procedure
Collagen injections are quite safe, but all medical procedures carry some risk. The most common risk is an allergic reaction to the injection. Your doctor may give you a test injection first. Collagen made from animal sources may require a pretreatment allergy test. Other risks include:
Temporary facial muscle weakness
Overfilled or lumpy areas
There may be additional risks if you have other medical conditions. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your doctor before the procedure.
Before the procedure
Tell your doctor in advance about any medications you’re taking, including herbal supplements and other over-the-counter products. Your doctor may tell you to stop taking them, along with aspirin or other medications that thin your blood and may increase bleeding. Other important information to tell your doctor includes:
Your smoking history
Any chance that you may be pregnant
Any history of drug allergies
Any history of other facial injections
You will be asked to sign an informed consent that goes over the risks and benefits of collagen injection before the procedure. Take this opportunity to discuss these risks and benefits with your doctor. It’s important to have realistic expectations of what collagen injections can and can't do.
During the procedure
Before the actual procedure begins, your doctor may take some “before” photographs and use a marker to make guidelines for the injections. Generally collagen injections follow this process:
The injection sites may be cleaned with an antibacterial soap or solution.
Ice or a skin-numbing product may be applied to make your skin less sensitive.
A local anesthetic may be injected or may be included in the filler material.
The collagen is injected until it fills in the area.
Deep depressions or lip filling may require more than one injection.
The length of the procedure will depend on how many areas are injected; it usually take a few minutes to do each site.
After the injections, your skin may be iced and cleaned again.
After the procedure
The results of your collagen injections will be apparent right away. Ask your doctor if you should take any medication for pain and if you should follow any special instructions. In most cases you should be able to clean your face and wear makeup normally, and you may even be able to put on makeup before leaving the doctor's office, however you should avoid rubbing the treated area. You can usually return to a normal diet and normal activities.
You may notice these mild, temporary side effects:
You may experience some swelling and bruising for the first 24 hours. The area may appear red for a day or up to a week. Putting ice on your skin may help. Some injected areas may have a puffy or overfilled looked for a few days.
Call your doctor if you have persistent:
Bleeding or bruising
Skin irritation or swelling
Numbness or weakness
The results of collagen injections aren’t permanent and will fade over time. To keep wrinkles, folds, or scars from coming back, you will need to go back to your doctor for more injections. Talk with your doctor about all the options that may be available.