Collagen is an essential protein complex found in the human body. Collagen molecules form fibrils that produce necessary fibers for our bodies. The configuration of fibers is the foundation for tissue structure. Collagen supports the skin, bone, cartilage and blood vessels in our bodies.
Skin consists of two layers: the epidermis and the dermis. 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. This layer, although it contains blood vessels, nerves and hair follicles, is primarily made up of a protein called “collagen.” This protein forms a network of fibers that provides a framework for the growth of cells and blood vessels. Because it is the primary constituent of the dermis, collagen acts as the support structure for the skin. As people age, this structure weakens and the skin loses its elasticity. The skin begins to lose its tone as the collagen support wears down.
The injection of collagen fillers, (also called soft-tissue augmentation) is a cosmetic procedure performed to correct wrinkles, depressions in the skin, and/or scarring.
The areas which are most commonly treated while using this technique are:
- Perioral lines (above the lips)
- Marionette lines (lines at the ends of the mouth)
- Glabellar frown lines (between the eyebrows
- Nasolabial folds (sides of the nose)
- The Vermillion ridge (top of the lip)
- Oral commissures (smile lines)
- Crows feet
- Acne scars and depressed scars
Candidates for this type of treatment are usually between the ages of 35 and 60. People who are pregnant or nursing, people with allergies to bovine products or lidocaine, or those with certain medical conditions such as autoimmune diseases, should not submit themselves to this procedure.
The most important fact to remember about injectable fillers is that the results are not permanent. Injected material is eventually metabolized by the body. You should not expect the same long-lasting results that may be gained from cosmetic surgery.
After a skin test has been performed to determine that you’re not allergic to the substance, the treatment can commence. The collagen is injected using a fine needle inserted at several points along the edge of the treatment area. If a local anesthesia has not been used, you may feel some minor stinging or burning as the injections are administered.
Since part of the substance is salt water that will be absorbed by the body within a few days, your doctor will slightly overfill the area. You may be asked to hold a hand mirror during the procedure to help your doctor decide when you’ve had enough.
After The Treatment
Immediately following treatment, you may notice some minor discomfort, stinging or throbbing in the injected region. Rarely, some bruising or swelling will occur but it is usually minor. Any redness that appears in the injected site usually disappears within 24 hours. However, in some individuals, particularly fair-skinned patients, this redness may persist for a week or more. Tiny scabs may also form over the needle-stick areas; these generally heal rapidly.
Normal activities can be resumed immediately; however, you are advised to stay out of the sun. Unmanageable pain or any symptoms that are progressive or abnormal should be reported to the doctor immediately.
Complications are possible with any medical procedure, though complications from collagen fillers are typically minimal. Some possible complications include uneven texture of the skin, an allergic reaction, infection, abscess and scarring. Your doctor can answer questions about complications and their proper treatment during your initial consultation.