We all develop wrinkles with age. Patients often ask how they can prevent or reverse skin aging, wrinkles, and other signs that betray the years. Among the many ways to make the skin look younger and smooth away wrinkles, collagen injections have been very effective, though, as the other methods, only temporary.
The way your skin looks is directly related to the way your skin is supported. Aging, disease and injury are some of the factors that weaken the collagen fibers that give your skin its underlying strength.
What is collagen and how does it work?
Collagen is a natural protein that nature uses as a building block. It is found throughout the body — in the skin, muscle, tendons and bones — providing texture, resilience and shape.
Collagen in human skin is very similar to collagen found in certain animals. Animal collagen has been used in sutures for over a century. Heart valves used during surgery are made of collagen.
Injectable collagen was first used to treat patients in 1976. The collagen has been purified so thoroughly that it can be used to replace lost skin tissue and to fill in depressions and wrinkles.
How is collagen treatment performed?
Small amounts of the collagen are injected directly into areas where the body’s own collagen has been weakened, thus raising the depressions to the level of the surrounding skin. In this way, lines and scars can be minimized, texture is improved, and the skin has a softer and more even tone.
There are two forms of collagen. The two types of treatment may be used alone or in conjunction with one another.
One form of collagen injections (Zyderm) can effectively treat small or superficial contour problems, e.g. delicate frown and smile lines, as well as fine creases that develop at the corners of the eyes and above and below the lips. It can also help correct certain kinds of shallow scars.
A second form of collagen (Zyplast) has been designed to treat depressions requiring a stronger material — for deeper scars, lines and furrows, as well as for areas upon which more force is exerted, such as the corners of the mouth.
Depressions with sharp edges and narrow acne scars do not usually respond to these materials.
Side effects of collagen injections
You will need to have two skin tests in a 1-month period (2-weeks apart), to determine if you are eligible for treatment with collagen. Some patients may have an allergic reaction to collagen injections, even with two normal skin tests. When an allergic reaction occurs, it consists of red, ugly, tender lumps which can ulcerate and cause permanent scars.
Most of the time the lumps will slowly disappear over a period of months. Allergic reactions occur in approximately 2 out of 100 people who receive collagen injections.
Collagen is gradually absorbed, and its effects last only about six months to one year, sometimes less.
There have been reported cases of people developing an autoimmune disease after collagen injections. No one knows if the injections had anything to do with the develop of these diseases. An autoimmune disease is a life-long debilitating condition which has no cure and can be life-threatening.