What is a collagen injection?
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 many factors including your genes, whether you smoke, sleep positions, and how much UV light exposure you’ve had. UV or ultraviolet light comes from the sun or tanning beds/lamps.
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. This will plump them up and give you a more youthful look.
Human collagen or animal collagen may be used. The results of these injections may last up to 4 months. Newer products for cosmetic injection are being developed that may last longer.
Why might i need a collagen injection?
You may choose to get collagen injections to help:
- Make your lips fuller
- Fill in hollow cheeks
- Fill in facial wrinkles
- Fill in facial creases
- Fill in some types of scars, such as acne scars
What are the risks of a collagen injection?
Collagen injections are quite safe, but all medical procedures carry some risk. The most common risk is an allergic reaction to the collagen. Your doctor may give you a pre-treatment test injection first – especially if you are going to get collagen made from animal sources. Other risks include:
- Temporary facial muscle weakness
- Overfilled or lumpy areas
There may be more risks if you have other medical conditions. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your doctor before the procedure.
How do I prepare for a collagen injection?
- Your doctor will explain the procedure to you and give you a chance to ask any questions.
- Be sure you understand the costs of the collagen injections. They are usually not covered by health insurance.
- You will be asked to sign a consent form that gives your permission to do the injections. Read the form carefully and ask questions if anything is not clear.
- Tell your doctor if you are sensitive to or are allergic to any medications, latex, tape, and/or anesthesia (local and general).
- Tell your doctor if you have a history of cold sores, heart problems, autoimmune diseases, or any other medical problems. Also, let the doctor know if you’ve had other facial injections or cosmetic procedures in the past.
- Discuss your smoking history with your doctor
- If you are pregnant or think you may be, tell your doctor.
- Tell your health care provider if you have a history of bleeding disorders or if you are taking any anticoagulant (blood-thinning) medications, aspirin, or other medications that affect blood clotting. You may need to stop these medications prior to the procedure.
- Tell your doctor of all medications (prescribed and over-the-counter), vitamins, herbs, and supplements that you are taking.
It’s important to have realistic expectations of what collagen injections can and can't do.
Based on your medical condition, your doctor may request other specific preparation.
What happens during a collagen injection?
Collagen injections are usually done in a doctor's office. Specialists who offer these treatments include dermatologists and plastic surgeons.
Before the procedure begins, your doctor may take some “before” photographs and use a marker to make guidelines for the injections. Thin needles are used to inject medicines and the collagen into your skin. Generally collagen injections follow this process:
- The injection sites are cleaned with an antibacterial soap or solution.
- Ice or a skin-numbing product may be put on your skin to make it less sensitive.
- A local anesthetic (numbing medicine) may be injected or may be mixed with the collagen.
- The collagen is injected until it fills in the area. It may sting or burn.
- Deep depressions or lip filling may need more than one injection.
- The length of the procedure will depend on how many areas are injected; it usually takes a few minutes to do each site.
- After the injections, the marks are washed off and your skin may be iced again.
What happens after a collagen injection?
You will be able to see the results of your collagen injections 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. You may even be able to put on makeup before leaving the doctor's office, but you should not rub the treated area.
You can usually go back to your normal diet and normal activities.
You may notice these mild, short-term side effects:
You may have some swelling and bruising for the first 24 hours. The area may look red for a day or up to a week. Putting ice on your skin may help. Be sure to wrap the ice in a thin towel to avoid skin damage. Some injected areas may have a puffy or overfilled look for a few days.
Call your doctor if you have any of the following:
- Bleeding or bruising
- Skin irritation or swelling
- Numbness, drooping, or weakness in your face
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.
Before you agree to the test or the procedure make sure you know:
- The name of the test or procedure
- The reason you are having the test or procedure
- The risks and benefits of the test or procedure
- When and where you are to have the test or procedure and who will do it
- When and how will you get the results
- How much will you have to pay for the test or procedure
Online Medical Reviewer:
Foster, Sara, RN, MPH
Online Medical Reviewer:
Stump-Sutiff, Kim, RN, MSN, AOCNS
Date Last Reviewed:
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