What is collagen?
Collagen is a protein that forms the support structure of the skin. It is important for keeping the skin moisturized and elastic, but is naturally lost as part of the aging process allowing the skin to sag into lines and wrinkles. Collagen injections can restore this lost collagen and improve the tone and smoothness of your skin, giving a plumper and younger-looking appearance.
Types of collagen injections
Collagen fillers can include injections made from bovine collagen (Bellafill), human collagen (Cosmoderm and Cosmoplast) and porcine collagen.
In addition, this article will include injectables fillers that stimulate collagen production such as Sculptra, Radiesse and Juvederm.
Areas treated with collagen injections
Some areas commonly treated with collagen injections include:
Are you a good candidate?
Collagen injections work best on wrinkles caused by folds and sagging in the skin itself, rather than those caused by the movement of facial muscles, such as laugh lines or frown lines. For these types of treatments, consider Botox treatments instead.
Most candidates are men and women between the ages of 35 and 60 who wish to minimize the signs of aging. They are starting to see facial wrinkles, and want to turn back the hands of time.
This treatment works best when the skin is still somewhat supple, although it has also been used successfully in older patients.
Collagen injections are also used for treatment not related to aging, such as lip augmentation, in which collagen is injected into the lips to make them fuller.
Women who are pregnant or nursing or people with certain medical conditions or who are taking certain medications may not be a good candidate.
Be sure to tell your doctor about any medical concerns so that he or she can evaluate whether you can undergo treatment.
If you opt to undergo treatment with bovine-based collagen, an allergy test will be performed on your arm several weeks before the treatment itself. Patients cannot undergo bovine-based collagen injections if they are allergic to the collagen, though there are many alternative dermal fillers that may be used in its place.
The following provides an overview of how collagen injections are administered.
- Prior to treatment, the patient is first given a skin test to detect any possible allergies to the collagen material.
- Before the injection, you can expect the doctor to cleanse the skin and apply either a topical numbing cream or a local anesthetic, although in some cases the collagen solution itself contains lidocaine, a local anesthetic.
- Next, the collagen will be injected around the targeted area. This process may require one or several injections depending on the desired results.
- Following the injections, there may be some temporary puffiness or bruising. This is normal and gradually subsides in a few days.
The entire process usually takes an hour or less. After the injection process, patients are free to leave the office immediately and no bandages are required over the treated area.
Risks & side effects
Complications are rare, but can include infection, scarring, an allergic reaction, or an uneven or bumpy texture in the treated area. There may also be some skin redness that persists for a week or more. This is particularly common in patients with fair skin.
After collagen injections, the treated skin may be red, tender, or mildly bruised, though this usually subsides within a day or two.
Patients are free to leave the doctor’s office immediately and there is no required recovery time. Patients can resume normal activities immediately.
When will you see results?
The results of treatment are visible immediately when done with Radiesse, Juvederm or Bellafill. Results with Sculptra will take approximately 2-3 months.
How long will your results last?
Collagen injections such as Bellafill are reported to last up to 5 years.
The longevity of your results with collagen stimulators will vary:
- Radiesse – 9-15 months
- Juvederm – 12-18 months (Depending on type of Juvederm)
- Sculptra – 2 years
What do collagen injections cost?
The total price depends on the specific type of filler used, the doctor, the area being treated, and other factors.
- Bellafill – $1,000-$1,500 per syringe
- Radiesse – $600 to $800 per syringe
- Juvederm – $500-$800 per syringe
- Sculptra – $878 per syringe / $1,500 per treatment session
Injections of collagen for cosmetic reasons are not covered by insurance. Recognizing that cost is a concern for many patients, some doctors offer financing options and payment plans to make the treatment more affordable.