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Collagen is a naturally occurring protein that exists in the skin and other connective tissue, but it breaks down as you age, resulting in skin that is increasingly wrinkled and saggy. As a temporary replacement for collagen in certain areas, some people opt for injections of liquid collagen, which can make skin firmer and smoother for up to six months 4. However, liquid collagen does have its risks and complications.
According to "Secrets of Great Skin: The Definitive Guide to Anti-Aging Skin Care" by David J. Goldberg and Eva M. Herriott, Ph.D., a rare but potentially serious problem associated with liquid collagen injections is skin necrosis, the death of otherwise healthy skin cells 34. This happens when the collagen prevents the adequate flow of blood or oxygen to a group of skin cells. Once necrosis sets in, the affected skin cells cannot be saved, but without medical intervention, surrounding healthy tissue may become infected. The risk of this is small because collagen is typically injected in small amounts.
- According to "Secrets of Great Skin: The Definitive Guide to Anti-Aging Skin Care" by David J. Goldberg and Eva M. Herriott, Ph.D., a rare but potentially serious problem associated with liquid collagen injections is skin necrosis, the death of otherwise healthy skin cells 3.
Collagen Skin Benefits
Collagen beneath the surface of the skin can accumulate unevenly, resulting in skin that looks raised or bumpy, according to "The Smart Woman's Guide to Plastic Surgery: Essential Information From a Female Plastic Surgeon" by Jean M. Loftus 2. This is almost always a result of improper injection procedure, which is why it is important to seek this treatment from a qualified, experienced professional. When this happens, the lumps usually dissolve and even out over the course of a few days.
The Mayo Clinic reports that approximately 3 percent of candidates are allergic to collagen injections 4. Allergies are primarily related to the most common form of liquid collagen, which is derived from cow or pig skin. Other sources of collagen include the patient's own skin, deceased collagen donors and collagen grown in a laboratory. To test for potential allergies, small amounts of collagen are usually applied externally to a patch of skin before it is injected. Allergic reactions usually manifest as redness, bumps and rashes, but can include skin ulcers. Allergic reactions to collagen that is actually injected may be more severe.
- The Mayo Clinic reports that approximately 3 percent of candidates are allergic to collagen injections 4.
- Other sources of collagen include the patient's own skin, deceased collagen donors and collagen grown in a laboratory.
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As with any type of injection, there is a chance of infection, though this chance is minimal if the collagen injection is administered by a professional in a sterile setting. Infections can occur if bacteria is allowed into the injection site or if it is present on the needle used. Infections are typically treated with antibiotics.
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- Mayo Clinic: Facial Fillers for Wrinkles
- "The Smart Woman's Guide to Plastic Surgery: Essential Information From a Female Plastic Surgeon"; Jean M. Loftus; 2000
- "Secrets of Great Skin: The Definitive Guide to Anti-Aging Skin Care"; David J. Goldberg, Eva M. Herriott Ph.D.; 2005
- Perfect Yourself: Collagen Injections
- Asserin, J., Lati, E., Shioya, T., & Prawitt, J. (2015). The effect of oral collagen peptide supplementation on skin moisture and the dermal collagen network: evidence from anex vivomodel and randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 14(4), 291–301. doi:10.1111/jocd.12174
- Choi FD, Sung CT, Juhasz ML, Mesinkovsk NA. Oral Collagen Supplementation: A Systematic Review of Dermatological Applications. J Drugs Dermatol. 2019;18(1):9-16.
- Cúneo F, Costa-Paiva L, Pinto-Neto AM, Morais SS, Amaya-Farfan J. Effect of dietary supplementation with collagen hydrolysates on bone metabolism of postmenopausal women with low mineral density. Maturitas. 2010 Mar;65(3):253-7.
- Czajka, A., Kania, E. M., Genovese, L., Corbo, A., Merone, G., Luci, C., & Sibilla, S. (2018). Daily oral supplementation with collagen peptides combined with vitamins and other bioactive compounds improves skin elasticity and has a beneficial effect on joint and general wellbeing. Nutrition Research, 57, 97–108. doi:10.1016/j.nutres.2018.06.001
- García-Coronado, J. M., Martínez-Olvera, L., Elizondo-Omaña, R. E., Acosta-Olivo, C. A., Vilchez-Cavazos, F., Simental-Mendía, L. E., & Simental-Mendía, M. (2018). Effect of collagen supplementation on osteoarthritis symptoms: a meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials. International Orthopaedics, 43(3), 531–538. doi:10.1007/s00264-018-4211-5
- Hays NP, Kim H, Wells AM, Kajkenova O, Evans WJ. "Effects of whey and fortified collagen hydrolysate protein supplements on nitrogen balance and body composition in older women." J Am Diet Assoc. 2009 Jun;109(6):1082-7.
- Kirmse, M., Oertzen-Hagemann, V., de Marées, M., Bloch, W., & Platen, P. (2019). Prolonged Collagen Peptide Supplementation and Resistance Exercise Training Affects Body Composition in Recreationally Active Men. Nutrients, 11(5), 1154. doi:10.3390/nu11051154
- Proksch E, Schunck M, Zague V, Segger D, Degwert J, Oesser S. Oral intake of specific bioactive collagen peptides reduces skin wrinkles and increases dermal matrix synthesis. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2014;27(3):113-9.
- Proksch E, Segger D, Degwert J, Schunck M, Zague V, Oesser S. Oral supplementation of specific collagen peptides has beneficial effects on human skin physiology: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2014;27(1):47-55.
- Tomosugi N, Yamamoto S, Takeuchi M, et al. Effect of Collagen Tripeptide on Atherosclerosis in Healthy Humans. J Atheroscler Thromb. 2017;24(5):530–538. doi:10.5551/jat.36293