Is it Worth it to Have a Collagen Injection?
When you’re considering any elective medical procedure, you need to know the risks, and weigh them against the benefits. The choice of whether or not to have elective surgery is very personal, and every person will make their choice differently. Here, we’ll discuss the major risks and benefits of having injections of the dermal filler called collagen.
There are several dermal fillers available for injection to reduce the appearance of small defects, such as wrinkles, in the skin. This page discusses collagen. Some collagen used for dermal fillers is derived from animals (usually pigs and cows), while other collagen is derived from humans. Examples of animal-derived collagen include Zyderm, Zyplast, and Evolence.
Human-derived collagen may come from the donated skin of others, or may be derived from your own body. Examples of the former include Cosmoderm, Cosmoplast, and Dermalogen. Examples of self-derived collagen include Autologen and Isolagen. If you want to learn more about what the procedure and the recovery are like, please visit Dermal Fillers: the Procedure and Recovery. For more about the many resources Doctor Review has to offer, you can check out our Cosmetic Dermatology Overview page.
Please note that this page is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for qualified, individualized medical advice. You should discuss your potential elective surgery with your own doctor(s), including your primary care physician and the provider who will perform your procedure if you decide to proceed.
There are some risks that can result from the injection of any dermal filler. One risk is the possibility of infection at the site of injection. Cleaning the site before injection and using good sterile technique minimizes this risk, but it’s never zero. Infection could result in a poor aesthetic result and will require antibiotics to treat. Additionally, there is often bruising and swelling near the injection site; this usually resolves within a few days. In some cases, there may be a lump at the injection site, or the filler may be visible under the surface of the skin.
The wrinkle may not be completely filled by the filler, so it’s still present; conversely, it may be overfilled, so that it now sticks up from the skin instead of down. As the body gradually absorbs the filler, this usually resolves. In rare cases, there could be damage to the skin during injection that results in permanent scarring. There is also the risk that the filler will move away from the site where it was injected; this risk is reduced by avoiding rubbing or massaging of the treated area, which may push the filler around inside the face.
For those collagen products that involve the use of animal-derived collagen, there is a risk that you’ll have an allergic reaction to the collagen. In order to reduce this risk, an allergy test will be done. A small amount of the chosen collagen product will be injected under the skin in an unobtrusive area of the body. You will then need to watch that area for the next few days, and report any redness, itching, rash, or other unusual symptoms to your provider. These are the types of reactions you could have to collagen if you’re allergic to it; you don’t want them to happen on your face! If you don’t react to the collagen during this allergy test, the risk that you’ll react during the facial injections is very small but isn’t quite zero.
To get your own collagen for injection, pieces of skin are needed from which the collagen can be extracted. For Autologen, skin from a previous surgery in which skin is removed (such as a tummy tuck or breast lift) is used. After your surgery, your collagen can be stored for up to five years. All of the risks of the surgery apply, but there is no additional risk to having your collagen processed and stored. For Isolagen, a small piece of skin (less than an inch in diameter) is removed and sent to a lab. The lab clones the skin to get enough collagen for injection. This procedure involves the risk of problems in the site where skin is removed, including infection, excessive bleeding, or pain and numbness due to nerve damage.
Collagen is a natural protein found in your connective tissues, including your skin. This protein gives skin its firmness. Collagen injections are therefore a very natural choice for dermal fillers. If your own collagen is used, then nothing at all unnatural will end up in your body. A collagen injection will last about three months, being gradually reabsorbed into your body, so you’ll need repeated injections to maintain your youthful look.
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the average cost to have collagen injected once is $467 for animal collagen and $544 for human collagen. This cost varies according to several factors, including how many sites need to be injected, the region, and the particular clinic. You should check with the provider(s) you’re considering to determine the exact cost. Keep in mind that financing is often available. For more detail, visit our Dermal Fillers – Collagen Cost page.