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Collagen is a type of fibrous protein naturally found throughout the human body; it provides cushioning and fills out the contours of the skin. As people age, the substance breaks down and the body doesn’t replace it as quickly as it is lost, which causes some visible signs of aging. Collagen products aim to put back some of the body’s natural stores or stimulate further production. There are several different types, including creams, supplements, and injections.
Injections are one of the most commonly used collagen products, as they deliver the substance to the areas of skin that need it the most. Collagen injections are used to help fill in wrinkles, reduce the appearance of scars, and correct other damage to the contours of the skin. The collagen used in injections can come from several different sources, including animals, human cadavers, and live human donors. If it comes from animal sources, an allergy test must be performed before it can be injected. Typically, human donated collagen poses a minimal risk of allergic reaction.
Cream-based collagen products can be found in numerous over-the-counter beauty treatments, but there are some doubts from the dermatological community as to whether they actually work. Although new advances may increase their effectiveness, older products on the market may not be as successful. The main reason behind this is that the collagen molecule is larger than the skin’s pores, which means it cannot penetrate beneath the top layer of skin, where it is needed in order to be effective. Creams may be effective as a simple moisturizer, but users shouldn’t expect dramatic results.
Although improving the look of skin is one of the most common reasons people use collagen products, supplements containing the protein may be beneficial to numerous different types of conditions. Limited scientific evidence supports the use of collagen supplements for those suffering from arthritis or other conditions that affect the joints. Research also indicates that it may help those with heart disease, although more studies are required before its effectiveness in this application can be validated. Those considering taking collagen supplements should speak with their physicians before doing so, especially if they have a preexisting medical condition.
Those considering using any of the collagen products should speak to a skin care professional before making a final decision. Although collagen products sold over-the-counter are generally safe for use, a physician can help determine if it is the best product for the condition. Other collagen products, such as injections, should only be administered by a professional.