Collagen Injection—Wrinkle Filler
(Soft Tissue Filler; Injectable Filler)
Collagen injection is a procedure used to fill wrinkles, plump lips, and improve skin appearance. Collagen is injected under the skin with a fine needle.
Collagen is a natural protein that supports the skin and other areas of the body. It may be taken from an animal like a cow or pig or from the patient’s own tissue. Collagen is one of several filler options available.
Reasons for Procedure
Collagen injection is an elective, cosmetic procedure. This means that the patient requests to have a procedure which is not medically necessary. It is done to:
- Fill wrinkle lines
- Plump lips
- Improve the appearance of scars by plumping and smoothing skin
Collagen injection may be used to fill in wrinkles near the nose, mouth, and forehead.
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You will need a trained specialist such as a dermatologist or a facial or general plastic surgeon. Treatments are often successful and results are seen right away. Results are temporary, lasting 6 months or more.
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
- Allergic reaction
- Bumps, clumping, or abscesses on the skin
- Uneven skin appearance
- Skin rash, itchiness
- Bleeding, bruising, or swelling
- Damage to tissue and nerves near the injection site
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
- Taking blood thinners
Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor before the collagen injections.
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
Before the test your doctor will:
- Examine, measure, and take pictures of your face
- Discuss known allergies
- Discuss medicines, supplements, and skin products you are using
- Test your skin for allergies
- Discuss risks and benefits of the procedure
Before the procedure, you will:
- Sign an informed consent form
- Be advised to avoid aspirin and other blood-thinning medicines
- Remove all makeup
Local or topical anesthesia, such as ointment or ice, may be used. A nerve block is often used for lip injections. This type of anesthesia blocks the nerves responsible for pain.
Description of the Procedure
Pen marks may be made on the areas to be targeted. Your face will be cleaned and prepared with an antibacterial cleanser. Local or topical anesthesia will be given to numb the area. For small areas, a topical cream or ice is used.
There are different ways to inject the collagen:
- Serial puncture technique —A series of small punctures will be made with the needle along the targeted area. Small amounts of collagen will be inserted at each puncture point.
- Linear threading or fanning technique —The needle will be inserted into the full length of the targeted area. The collagen will be injected slowly as the needle is removed or inserted.
The procedure is often repeated in deeper areas.
How Long Will It Take?
The procedure may take only a few minutes or longer depending on the areas injected. You will be able to go home after the procedure.
Will It Hurt?
Anesthesia can block pain and discomfort. Some have the procedure without anesthesia, but the injection is painful.
Ask your doctor about medicine to help with the pain and swelling after the procedure.
At the Care Center
After your procedure, the staff may provide the following care:
- Cleanse your face
- Apply ice and/or a soothing ointment
When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
- You may put on makeup without touching the affected area.
- Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions about caring for the affected area.
Call Your Doctor
It is important to monitor your recovery. Alert your doctor to any problems. If any of the following occur, call your doctor:
- Increased pain, redness, bleeding, discharge, or swelling
- Rash or hives
- Uneven skin appearance
- Any other concerns
American Academy of Dermatology
American Society of Plastic Surgeons
Canadian Dermatology Association
Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons
Dermal fillers. American Society of Plastic Surgeons website. Available at: https://www.plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/dermal-fillers. Accessed September 5, 2019.
Filler materials and general injection technique. In: Bolognia JL, Jorizzo JL, eds. Dermatology. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby Elsevier; 2008: chap 158.
Fillers. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/cosmetic-treatments/fillers. Accessed September 5, 2019.
Last reviewed September 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Donald W. Buck II, MD Last Updated: 9/16/2020