Collagen injections are a type of cosmetic procedure, also called a dermal filler, designed to help give skin a plumper and smoother appearance.
To understand collagen, you should first understand your skin.
Skin consists of three layers: the epidermis, dermis and subcutaneous tissue (hypodermis). The upper-most layer, known as the epidermis, controls the loss of water from cells and tissue.
Without this protective barrier, the body would quickly dehydrate.
Just below the epidermis lies the second layer, the dermis. The dermis, although it contains blood vessels, nerves and hair follicles, is primarily made up of a protein called "collagen". This protein forms a network of fibres that provides a framework for the growth of cells and blood vessels. Because it is the primary component of the dermis, collagen acts as the support structure for the skin. The hypodermis is a layer of fat and connective tissue that contains larger blood vessels and nerves. It also hosts sweat glands, fat and collagen cells. The hypodermis is responsible for conserving your body's heat and protecting your vital inner organs.
Why do lines appear?
In young skin, the collagen framework is intact and the skin remains moisturised and elastic. It is resilient to the facial expressions we adopt as well as everyday environmental exposure. But, over time, the support structure weakens and the skin loses its elasticity. The skin begins to lose its tone as the collagen support wears down. Every time you smile, frown or squint, you put stress on the collagen in your skin. The effect of these facial expressions is cumulative and facial lines begin to appear.
How do collagen injections work?
Collagen injections replenish the skin's natural collagen. The natural beauty of your skin is enhanced as the contour of the support structure is restored.
Some bovine-derived collagen products replace the collagen your skin loses over time. The collagen products are placed just beneath the skin, in the dermis where the body readily accepts it as its own.
Others are bioengineered human collagen products that are similar to bovine-derived collagen but have the advantage of not requiring a skin test before the first treatment.
Collagen should be injected into your skin only by a trained healthcare professional.
Other injectable fillers
- Synthetic fillers. Because it's synthetic, you are at higher risk of having an allergic reaction than if you get an injection of collagen or fat. However, synthetic fillers last much longer than those options.
- Autologen is an injection of your own collagen, extracted from another place on your body. There's no risk of allergic reaction; however, the results are only temporary.
- Fascia injections use a specific type of connective tissue harvested either from your own body or from a deceased human donor. It can be implanted surgically or injected. The main drawback is that within a year of injection, your body will reabsorb the fascia and you'll be back to square one.
- Fat from your own thighs or abdomen can also be injected. There's no risk of allergic reaction and you may achieve permanent results. This can also be implanted surgically.