• Lourdes Varadé, chemical engineer

    Collagen injections

    21 Feb Collagen injections




    In looking for the elixir of eternal youth for our skin we don’t think twice about an injection or any other kind of pain. But are treatments definitive? Do they turn back time? Collagen is one of the hottest options available at present.


    Collagen is the main fibrous component in the skin and bones. A quarter of the protein mass in our body is collagen, which forms 75% of the connective tissue. Collagen acts as the scaffolding for our skin. One cause of sagging skin is reduced collagen content. Collagen injections are used mainly to fill in areas of the face that have lost firmness and become wrinkled due to the passing of time. The main function of collagen is as a filler material for empty spaces in the deeper layers of the skin, thereby eliminating the fine lines that so many people dread.


    How does collagen work?

    The medical-cosmetic treatment is administered via injections that deliver the collagen to the deeper skin layers. The fact that collagen is natural or almost natural minimizes the possibility of rejection, so it is absorbed by the body without complications.

    A month before treatment, your doctor should test you for possible allergic reactions by injecting a small amount of product (equivalent to the size of a lentil) in the forearm. The desired areas are later injected with collagen if no undesirable effects or redness develop. Only 3% of people are allergic to collagen.

    The treatment is considered medical rather than cosmetic, since collagen injections penetrate the epidermis. Any procedure that involves injections, mesotherapy, scalpel, cuts, etc must be performed by a licensed physician.

    The advantages of collagen injection is that it is minimally invasive, requires a few minutes to administer and has immediate effects; furthermore, recovery is very rapid and side effects are, at the most, related to the injection itself, that is, redness or swelling that resolves in hours or a few days.

    However, the downside of the treatment is that collagen is eventually absorbed by the body. It therefore must be injected repeatedly to maintain the filler effect. How often? This decision is made by the medical specialist, but treatment is usually repeated two to four times a year.


    Developments in injectable collagen

    The use of collagen for cosmetic treatments dates back to the 1980s, when the US Food and Drug Administration approved two purified collagen compounds of bovine origin. These products are still used today with good results, along with similar patented products.

    Collagen of human origin also exists, obtained from donors. Industrial production of synthetic collagen is also being investigated as, apparently, it does not cause the allergic reactions that are sometimes caused by animal collagen.

    More lasting results are being sought in recent advances in collagen filler technologies, e.g., in polymethyl-methacrylate (PMMA) microspheres suspended in liquid collagen. These microspheres remain in the deep layers of the skin, providing volume even after the collagen has been absorbed. Since the effect is said to last for years, this can be considered a semi-permanent solution.


    Botox and silicone

    Collagen injections have nothing to do with botox: as medical treatments they are very different. Botox (botulinum toxin) is injected to reverse contractions of the small muscles of the face and prevent the appearance of fine lines.

    The use of silicone injections to add volume to the lips is now largely history. The main problem with silicone is that it is not a component of our skin and so is not absorbed by the body. Painful lumps often develop after silicone is injected.


    Our skin’s health is primordial

    The purpose of this forum is to promote healthy and attractive looking skin, not contrive unnatural results. Cosmetic and medical treatments should only be used to look good in relation to our age. No medical treatment, and much less a cosmetic one, will turn back the clock. Injected collagen is an option that achieves a positive outcome at a low risk for our skin’s health.