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by cheree ,

Although facing stiff competition nowadays from hyaluronic acid, collagen injections remain an interesting method of wrinkle treatment, particularly for fine or delicate skin. Here's our guide to them.

How it works
Collagen is a protein present in the skin, that keeps it firm. It disappears with age, so skin becomes saggy and develops creases, or wrinkles.

To combat this, the disappearing collagen can be supplemented with injected collagen. This treatment is primarily designed to combat superficial wrinkles, fine lines and light scarring.

Bovine collagen has been used for a long time in the UK, but collagen derived from human skin also exists. There are several types of collagen, varying in concentration and thickness.

The thicker the collagen, the deeper into the dermis it is injected.

The procedure
Collagen is injected into the wrinkle in order to plump up lines or get rid of creases, using a very thin needle. Collagen can also be administered by a succession of tiny drops of the product injected underneath the wrinkle.

A session lasts for 30 to 60 minutes. Another session is recommended 2 to 3 weeks afterwards. The results are immediate and excellent, provided the injection technique is properly carried out by the doctor.

What you need to know
- A session costs from £150 to £750, depending on the type and dose of injection.
- Collagen is very easy to use and if any errors are made, they can be corrected. At worst, they will disappear within a few months.
- The duration of the implant is around 6 months on average, but can be 9 months to a year.
- Collagen injections produce few side effects. Blotchiness and light swelling is rare, and lasts from a few hours to a couple of days.
- With the latest collagen, you don't need a skin test prior to injection. There is, in principle, no risk of allergy or rejection.
- Collagen injections don’t last as long as hyaluronic acid injections, but they are easier to use and don’t cause 'granulation'.
- It can leave a light temporary mark on very dark skin.
- Collagen efficiency generally improves the more injections you have.

Autologous collagen
This uses the patient’s own collagen. A local anaesthetic is given, fat is removed from areas such as the patient's thighs, for example.

It is then crushed and centrifuged to isolate the collagen that will be injected into the wrinkles.

This procedure is practically risk-free, but removing and handling the collagen is difficult and it requires stringent hygiene.

Collagen creams
A word of warning: these don’t make wrinkles disappear! Collagen is basically too big a molecule to cross the epidermis’ barrier and reach the dermis. Nevertheless, collagen-based cream is a very good moisturiser which doesn’t make skin greasy.

Photo: The Body Shop

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