Collagen is a fibrous type of protein, that makes up the body’s connective tissues. It is the most abundant protein found in mammals, and there are over 20 types of collagen in the human body. A fibroblast is the most common cell which creates collagen. It synthesizes the extracellular matrix (ECM) and collagen. The extracellular (outside of the cell) matrix is the part of tissue that provides structural support to the cells. Synthesis of collagen occurs inside and outside of the cell, giving form to tissues of the body, and providing firmness and strength, and elastin gives tissue flexibility.
Five Most Common Types Of Collagen In The Body
- Collagen I : Type I is the most abundant type in the body, and is present in scar tissue, tendons, skin, artery walls, bones, and teeth.
- Collagen II : Type II makes up fifty percent of all cartilage protein which is in the vitreous humour of the eye (the clear gel between the lens and retina). It is also the hyaline cartilage (gristle) on joint surfaces.
- Collagen III : This type is the collagen of granulation tissue, or connective tissue which helps in healing. It is also found as a supporting mesh in some soft tissue such as the liver, bone marrow, and the lymphatic system. This type of collagen is also found in artery walls, the skin, intestines and the uterus.
- Collagen IV : This collagen is found in the eye lens, and part of the filtration system in the capillaries and kidney.
- Collagen V : Type V collagen is associated with the placenta, and forms the tissue which is between type I collagen. It is in cell surfaces, and hair also.
Collagen Injections: Procedures And How It Works
Collagen composes eighty percent of the skin, and its role is to keep the skin in shape, but as collagen breaks down with age, it can be replenished with collagen injections or fillers. To be an ideal candidate for collagen injections, you need to be between 35-60 years of age, with frown lines, “crows feet”, or “smile lines”. You should not seek collagen injections if you are pregnant or nursing, have allergies to cow products or lidocaine (anesthetic), or have an autoimmune disease.
It is very important that you not only do research to find a certified and reputable doctor, but to also discuss your medical history and what results you want to achieve before injections. Injections are typically performed in the doctor’s office, or a medical clinic setting. Depending on the brand of injection, your doctor may require a skin test, to see if you are allergic to the product, before injecting into your facial skin. Your carefully chosen doctor, or preferably plastic surgeon, will “score” or draw the points of injection on your face. After the points of injection are scored, antiseptic will be applied to the points, and injection(s) are given usually without anesthesia because the collagen injection contains lidocaine.
The collagen injections are administered with a tiny needle into the dermis, or second layer of skin. Depending on the severity of wrinkles or folds, several injections may be required. The collagen will make skin plumper, reducing the wrinkles, and adding elasticity. It is like having a bag of balloons, and pulling one out that is crumpled up, until you fill it with air, and it becomes smooth. Collagen injections fill the spaces in your skin that are collagen-depleted, making the skin firm and less wrinkled.
You may experience minimal discomfort during the injections, and you may have some swelling and bruising which will usually subside within 48 hours. The injected area may look red and puffy for the first day-week, but results are immediate, and will become evident as soon as the swelling subsides. You may also look over-filled, or too plump initially, due to the swelling. The collagen injections last usually for 2-3 months, then you must maintain follow-up injections thereafter.
Types Of Collagen Dermal Fillers
Collagen and dermal fillers are for lines and creases on the face that are not too deep. They also work for scars from acne, and are sometimes used for plumping lips. Permanent injectable fillers such as Radiesse and Sculptra last for years, but sometime develop granulomas (lumps), and if you do not like the initial results, you are stuck with the injections. The non-permanent injections such as Restylane, Juvederm, and Perlane last up to 6 months, with repeated injections.
Strictly, collagen fillers are made of purified human collagen, bovine (cow) collagen, and pig-based collagen. These are some of the most commonly used products and brand names:
- Zyderm/Zyplast : derived from bovine collagen, adds volume, requires skin allergy test before procedures, cost is est. $500 per syringe, lasts 3-4 months
- Cosmoplast/Cosmoderm : derived from human collagen, adds volume, cost is est. $500 per syringe, lasts 3-4 months
- Evolence : derived from pig-based collagen, adds volume and structural supporting, cost is est. $600 per syringe, lasts 12 months
- Artefill : permanent collagen filler derived from bovine collagen, contains local anesthetic, requires skin allergy test before procedure, adds volume, cost is est. $500 per syringe
There are also Hyaluronic Acid fillers which can add volume and fullness to the skin. Hyaluronic acid is found in the connective tissue, and helps skin hold onto moisture, adding plumpness. Some of these are Captique, Hylaform, Juvederm Ultra, Perlane, Prevelle Silk, Puragen, and Restylane.
Benefits,Risks and Side Effects
The benefits are purely aesthetic, and the wrinkles on your face are reduced, by the plumping effect of the injection. Because the injections are not like Botox, and Dysport which are injected into the muscle, these collagen fillers are injected into the second layer of skin (dermis). Therefore, these treatments deal with minor skin wrinkles, as opposed to deep wrinkles and folds. The average cost is much less than invasive cosmetic procedures, and there are very few life-threatening side effects.
Side effects from collagen injections may be injection site pain or irritation, swelling, bruising, redness, itching, tenderness, and sometimes nodules (bumps) felt under the skin. It is important that the doctor is aware of pre-screening for allergies in various brands, so that you may avoid any unwanted side effects.
Collagen Injection Reviews
One overall repeated complaint pertaining to collagen injections was that the injections caused nodules, lumps, and bumps, which were sometimes painful, and sometimes lasted even after the effect of the injection had worn off. Some reviewers loved the lip injections, and others experienced painful bumps. Eye injections did not seem favorable, causing “bags under the eye” effect, or not working at all. If you have the money to try the injections, and have a reputable and knowledgeable plastic surgeon, you may not experience these problems, but collagen treatments seem to be a guessing game, depending on your body, and the results that you are expecting.