Collagen Injection

(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.

Procedure overview

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:

  • Bleeding

  • Bruising

  • Swelling

  • Rash

  • Redness

  • Infection

  • 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:

  • Swelling

  • Redness

  • Bruising

  • Numbness

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:

  • Fever

  • 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.