Collagen is a natural protein found in bone, cartilage, skin, and tendons; there are 27 different types of naturally occurring collagens in the body. Certain collagens found in skin tissue are essential for skin strength and elasticity. Over time, this collagen breaks down, causing skin to lose its suppleness and begin to wrinkle and sag. In an effort to fight these signs of aging, many people turn to collagen injections to replace their original supply. Since it is a natural protein, there are relatively few side effects associated with its use in cosmetic procedures.
Candidates for Treatment
Most people opting for collagen treatment are 35 to 60 years old and would like to minimize early signs of aging such as faint or moderate smile and frown lines. Collagen injection treatment can also be used to achieve fuller, more voluptuous lips, as well as to touch up areas around the mouth and forehead where wrinkles have begun to reappear after previous cosmetic procedures. Older patients may also benefit from collagen injections, although ideal collagen candidates have skin that is still relatively flexible.
Because collagen is a natural substance and requires no surgery to achieve results, collagen treatment is one of the safest ways for people to enhance their appearance. Candidates for collagen treatment include people beginning to notice smile lines around the mouth, creases and lines on the forehead, and deepening furrows between the brows. As an added benefit, collagen can provide lip enhancement, making lips fuller and more voluptuous. In general, people who choose collagen treatment are looking to "refresh" or enhance their appearance rather than treat more advanced signs of aging.
General Treatment Requirements
Before a patient receives collagen injections, steps should be taken to avoid complications and help ensure excellent results. After reviewing the patient's medical history during the initial consult to see if there are any factors that could lead to complications, the doctor generally performs a skin test to determine whether the patient might develop an allergic reaction to collagen. During the test, a very small amount of collagen is injected into the forearm, and the area is then monitored for roughly one month. If swelling, redness, or itching develops during this time, the patient is probably not a good candidate for collagen treatment. If the patient is eligible, the doctor may provide instructions regarding diet, nutrition, smoking, and drinking. Following these instructions is a crucial part of achieving optimal results.
Is Collagen Right for Me?
If you are in good health, between the ages of 35 and 60, and still have relatively flexible skin, you are probably a good candidate for collagen treatment. However, as with all cosmetic procedures, it is important for anyone considering injections to have a realistic understanding of what collagen can accomplish. You should bear in mind that collagen treatment is intended to address moderate, relatively early signs of aging. While it can be an excellent way to minimize or even eliminate certain facial lines and wrinkles, collagen is not intended as an antidote to advanced aging or more serious cosmetic problems. People with particularly deep facial lines or substantial skin sagging, for instance, should probably consider more aggressive surgical options, such as a facelift or a brow lift.
Medical and Health Considerations
During the initial consultation, doctors carefully review the medical history of prospective patients to make sure they meet the basic criteria for collagen treatment. Most people who are in good health are good candidates for injections. In some cases, however, existing medical conditions or physical situations make the use of collagen inadvisable. Women who are pregnant or nursing, for example, should postpone treatment, and people with certain autoimmune diseases should avoid the use of collagen altogether. Additionally, since most of the collagen used in cosmetic procedures is derived from cows, patients with an allergy to bovine products should ensure their doctor is using human-based collagen instead. Lidocaine, a natural anesthetic, is also contained in collagen; anyone allergic to this substance should also inquire about cosmetic filler alternatives.