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Is Collagen Safe?

By Erin J. Hill
Updated May 17, 2024
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In most cases, collagen is considered to be safe and effective. It is most often used as a cosmetic filler to get rid of wrinkles and other imperfections, and can also be used to plump up lips. Results are generally temporary, at which time repeat injections may be needed.

Collagen is a substance which naturally occurs in the skin. Over time, this material begins to wear down, resulting in sagging skin, wrinkles, and lines. Cosmetically used collagen is derived from the collagen found in cows and it is inserted with a needle into areas where wrinkling and sagging is most prominent. In most cases, the procedure is considered safe and most patients have only minor irritation for a short period of time after the injections.

In some very rare cases, collagen may cause an allergic reaction, resulting in irritation of the skin or extreme swelling. Severe reactions are even rarer, and may cause shortness of breath or dizziness. For the vast majority of patients, however, this is a safe procedure when compared with cosmetic surgeries like face lifts and scar removal. The most common areas in which to use collagen are in forehead creases, frown lines, crows feet, lines around the mouth, acne scars, and the lips.

Collagen injections in the lips and in wrinkles is generally a safe but temporary solution, with results lasting between three and six months. Most patients receive touch-ups throughout the year in order to maintain a lasting youthful appearance. When used for imperfection removal, such as in acne scars, results may last up to two years or more. While these results are not as permanent as those achieved with plastic surgery, collagen injections are much less invasive and require little to no healing time. The price is also generally much lower.

Before getting collagen injections, it is important that patients seek out a licensed spa or clinic with specialized licensing for administering these injections. In some very rare cases, unlicensed practitioners have used materials that are not entirely pure nor approved by the regulating government agencies. This sometimes results in severe reactions, infections, and even death. For this reason, anyone considering collagen injections is encouraged to shop around for a well-known and trained professional.

When done properly, clients can go about their normal activities immediately following collagen treatments. In the rare instances when irritation does occur, it’s usually mild and easily covered by makeup. If irritation persists for more than day or so, the person who administered the injections should be contacted for treatment options if necessary. Most times any mild irritation clears up on its own very quickly.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Ocelot60 — On Mar 18, 2014

@spotiche5- Another option for people who want this type of injection but do not want to risk an allergic reaction is to opt for hyaluronic-based injections instead. These fillers contain natural materials that are safe and effective.

By Spotiche5 — On Mar 17, 2014

Though collagen is basically safe to use, some people do have allergic reactions to it so I'm glad that this article points out this important fact. This type of reaction may have something to do with the animal that the collagen originated from or the patient's tendency to have allergic reactions.

There are simple tests that a doctor can do prior to administering collagen to make sure that the patient is not allergic to the particular type of collagen that will be injected. If the testing does not indicate the risk of an allergic reaction, more than likely the patient will not experience one after receiving collagen injections.

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