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Collagen Injection—Wrinkle Filler

(Soft Tissue Filler; Injectable Filler)

En Español (Spanish Version)

Definition | Reasons for Procedure | Possible Complications | What to Expect | Call Your Doctor


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

Types of Wrinkles

si1862_nasolabial fold.jpg
frown line
Collagen injection may be used to fill in wrinkles near the nose, mouth, and forehead.
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

You will need proper pre-treatment testing and 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 six months or more.

Possible Complications

Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have collagen injections, your doctor will review a list of possible complications which may include:

  • Allergic reaction
  • Bumps, clumping, or abscesses on the skin
  • Uneven skin appearance
  • Skin rash, itchiness
  • Infection
  • Bleeding, bruising, or swelling
  • Damage to tissue and nerves near the injection site

Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

  • Taking blood-thinning medicines
  • Allergies

Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor before the collagen injections.

What to Expect

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


  • You will sign an informed consent form.
  • You may be asked to avoid aspirin and other blood-thinning medicines.
  • All makeup will need to be removed before the procedure.

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.

The doctor may make pen marks 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—The doctor will make a series of small punctures with the needle along the targeted area and insert small amounts of collagen at each puncture site.
  • Linear threading or fanning technique—The doctor will insert the needle into the full length of the targeted area and inject the collagen slowly as the needle is removed or inserted.

The procedure is often repeated in deeper areas.

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.

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.

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:

  • Take pain medicines as directed.
  • Ice the affected area as directed to reduce swelling. Swelling should go down within hours or a few days.
  • Do not touch the injected area.
  • You may put on makeup without touching the affected area.
  • Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions.

Call Your Doctor

After arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:

  • Increased pain, redness, bleeding, discharge, or swelling
  • Rash or hives
  • Uneven skin appearance
  • Any other concerns

American Society of Plastic Surgeons


American Academy of Dermatology



Canadian Dermatology Association


Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons



Dermal fillers. American Society of Plastic Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.plasticsurgery.org/Patients_and_Consumers/Procedures/Cosmetic_Procedures/Injectable_Fillers.html. Accessed February 8, 2013.

Fillers. American Society of Dermatology website. Available at: http://www.aad.org/public/publications/pamphlets/cosmetic_softtissue.html. Accessed February 8, 2013.

Filler materials and general injection technique. In: Bolognia JL, Jorizzo JL, Rapini RP, eds. Dermatology. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby Elsevier; 2008: chap 158.

Last reviewed September 2013 by Michael Woods, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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