Collagen injection is a procedure used to fill wrinkles, plump lips, and improve skin appearance. Collagen is injected under the skin with a fine needle.
Collagen is a natural protein that supports the skin and other areas of the body. It may be taken from an animal like a cow or pig or from the patient’s own tissue. Collagen is one of several filler options available.
Collagen injection is an elective, cosmetic procedure. This means that the patient requests to have a procedure which is not medically necessary. It is done to: Fill wrinkle linesPlump lipsImprove the appearance of scars by plumping and smoothing skin
Types of Wrinkles
Collagen injection may be used to fill in wrinkles near the nose, mouth, and forehead.
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You will need a trained specialist such as a dermatologist or a facial or general plastic surgeon. Treatments are often successful and results are seen right away. Results are temporary, lasting 6 months or more.
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like: Allergic reactionBumps, clumping, or abscesses on the skinUneven skin appearanceSkin rash, itchinessInfectionBleeding, bruising, or swellingDamage to tissue and nerves near the injection site
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include: SmokingTaking blood thinnersAllergies
Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor before the collagen injections.
Before the test your doctor will: Examine, measure, and take pictures of your faceDiscuss known allergiesDiscuss medications, supplements, and skin products you are usingTest your skin for allergiesDiscuss risks and benefits of the procedure
Before the procedure, you will: Sign an informed consent formBe advised to avoid
and other blood-thinning medicationsRemove all makeup
Local or topical anesthesia, such as ointment or ice, may be used. A nerve block is often used for lip injections. This type of anesthesia blocks the nerves responsible for pain.
Pen marks may be made on the areas to be targeted. Your face will be cleaned and prepared with an antibacterial cleanser. Local or topical anesthesia will be given to numb the area. For small areas, a topical cream or ice is used.
There are different ways to inject the collagen: Serial puncture technique—A series of small punctures will be made with the needle along the targeted area. Small amounts of collagen will be inserted at each puncture point.Linear threading or fanning technique—The needle will be inserted into the full length of the targeted area. The collagen will be injected slowly as the needle is removed or inserted.
The procedure is often repeated in deeper areas.
The procedure may take only a few minutes or longer depending on the areas injected. You will be able to go home after the procedure.
Anesthesia can block pain and discomfort. Some have the procedure without anesthesia, but the injection is painful.
Ask your doctor about medication to help with the pain and swelling after the procedure.
After your procedure, the staff may provide the following care: Cleanse your faceApply ice and/or a soothing ointment
When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery: You may put on makeup without touching the affected area.Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions about caring for the affected area.
It is important to monitor your recovery. Alert your doctor to any problems. If any of the following occur, call your doctor: Increased pain, redness, bleeding, discharge, or swelling
hivesUneven skin appearanceAny other concerns
Dermal fillers. American Society of Plastic Surgeons website. Available at:
http://www.plasticsurgery.org/Patients_and_Consumers/Procedures/Cosmetic_Procedures/Injectable_Fillers.html. Accessed September 12, 2014.
Fillers. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at:
https://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/diseases-and-treatments/e---h/fillers. Accessed September 12, 2014.
Filler materials and general injection technique. In: Bolognia JL, Jorizzo JL, Rapini RP, eds.
Dermatology. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby Elsevier; 2008: chap 158.
Last reviewed September 2016 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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