What Is A Facial Collagen Injection?

woman cosmetic surgery using collagen injections

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A facial collagen injection (or filler) is are also known as soft tissue augmentation

Commonly used as a cosmetic procedure for the face, it can help soften and smooth out wrinkles and lines, fill in hollow and sagging skin, soften acne scars and/or plump lips.

Additionally, collagen injections can also be used for a non-invasive breast lift, butt lift and even help to relieve urinary incontinence.

Some of the injections are entirely biodegradable and will naturally break down after a few months, but there are also injections which serve as a permanent fix.

In this article, we will focus on collagen injections for the face.

Let's learn more so you can consider this treatment and talk to your doctor to consider if it's right for you.

Why Do Collagen Injections Work?

skin graphic collagen second layer

To better understand how a facial collagen injection works, we have to learn a little bit about the science behind collagen and the skin.

Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body, is concentrated in your skin and gives structure and strength to your skin.

However, starting in your 30s, new collagen production drops--then it drops dramatically during and after menopause. 

Unfortunately, existing collagen also breaks down over time as you age. Even more so if you are often exposed to the sun, smoke or have a poor diet.

The loss of collagen creates wrinkles, fine lines, sagging and crepey skin and other unwanted conditions that can appear on your face.

But why does that happen?

The Layers of Skin

The skin consists of three layers – the epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis.

The epidermis is the uppermost layer of our skin, which works to prevent loss of water from skin cells and tissue.

Just below the epidermis is the dermis. It’s primarily made of collagen which forms the network of fibers that help the growth of cells and blood vessels.

Collagen creates the “support structure” for the skin. That’s why it has the primary role to keep our skin smooth, tight and young-looking.

The best ways to slow down the collagen breakdown process would be to lessen your sun exposure, don’t smoke, have a healthy diet, plus avoid sugar and alcohol.

Alternatively, you can help produce new collagen through your diet by eating enough vitamin C through fruits and vegetables. 

Furthermore, you can take a collagen supplement and/or drink bone broth.  

If you have mature skin, collagen injections might be of interest. Admittedly, no injection will help us look like you're in your 20s.  However, we can do our best to keep our beauty and vitality as we age.

Finally, depending on the type of collagen filler used, it will either fill in the deficient areas and/or encourage the body to make new collagen.

How Does A Facial Collagen Injection Work?

There are two types of collagen fillers that are mainly used – human-based and bovine (cow) fillers. 

Bovine collagen is the most known and widely used.

It’s extracted from the cow’s skin, then sterilized, and liquefied to be used for the actual treatment.

It’s usually the least costly, and costs around $250 and $850 per session. Results last between 2 months and a year.

These are the facial collagen injection brands used by dermatologists:

  • Autologen is human-based collagen, usually procured from your own skin before the procedure. It does not require allergy testing since it’s derived from your skin. However, procedures with Autologen usually cost more, from about $800 to $1,000. It’s also popularly used for lip augmentations and will usually last longer than bovine collagen.
  • Isolagen is also procured from your skin. However, it’s made by duplicating collagen-making cells located behind your ear. The Isolagen treatment is usually finished within a two-week period, and since it contains no animal proteins, it prevents any risk for allergic reactions. Results will improve steadily over time. However, this treatment costs from about $1,000 to $1,500, which is much more costly than bovine treatment, for example.
  • Dermologen is usually taken from human donors who are deceased; it is then sterilized. It should last much longer, and the possibilities for allergic reactions will be minimal. The costs range between $500 and $1,000 for the procedure.

For some, however, the collagen injections can actually stimulate the body's own production of collagen, which potentially lengthens the time necessary between follow-up injections.

Your doctor will discuss the options available and the risks associated with each approach.

What To Expect Before Your Treatment

After checking the patient’s medical history, the doctor will usually perform a test to see if the collagen could result in an allergic reaction.  The doctor will do this by injecting a tiny bit of collagen into a patient’s forearm.

Then, the results of the allergy test will be monitored for around 30 days. If conditions like swelling, itching, or redness appear, the patient is not an ideal candidate for treatments that use collagen and should look for another solution.

If no allergic conditions arise, the doctor will proceed and provide further instructions, which might include nutrition advice and to avoid alcohol and smoking.

It’s imperative to follow these instructions for the best possible results of facial collagen filler treatment.

What To Expect During Your Treatment

No matter what type of collagen filler you choose, the actual treatment is pretty simple and low-risk.

The process from start to finish will usually take 30 to 60 minutes and the results will be visible generally in the next few days.

Since some patients might find collagen injections a bit uncomfortable, an anesthetic (usually lidocaine) can be used to minimize the pain. 

Who Should Avoid a Facial Collagen Injection?

Most people with generally good health are candidates for a collagen injection treatment.

However, there are certain medical conditions where it’s not advised to undergo this cosmetic procedure.

For example, pregnant/nursing women should postpone this treatment.

Also, be aware if you are allergic to lidocaine.

People allergic to bovine-sourced products should not get treatment with collagen derived from cows; collagen from humans or synthetic collagen should be used instead.

FINAL THOUGHTS

A facial collagen injection (filler) is a popular cosmetic procedure used to reduce wrinkles, fine lines and sagging skin on the face and neck. It is the least invasive option, short of surgery.

Most collagen injections are made from bovine (cow) collagen. However, some cosmetic surgeons also add fat from your body to the collagen injection.

In addition, there are synthetic types of collagen available on the market that might work better for you.

Once you meet with your surgeon to discuss options, he/she will likely perform an allergy test that takes about 30 days to determine results. Assuming all goes well, the next step is to have the injection.

Usually, while incorporating a light pain reliever, the whole procedure is usually over in less than an hour. There is typically no downtime afterward and you can resume normal activities shortly after the treatment.

Depending on the filler you and your surgeon agree upon, you may have to go for maintenance injections every 3-12 months.

As a rule, the costs associated with a facial collagen injection are not covered by insurance.

If you don't want to have plastic surgery or do collagen injections, there are ways to help preserve and create new collagen to enhance your youthful look and beauty.

First, avoid collagen-killing activities like smoking, sugar and sun will help.

Second, you can take a quality collagen supplement, use collagen-containing facial oils and serum and/or eat collagen-rich foods.