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The Lowdown on Anti-Aging Collagen

Weíve all seen celebrities flaunting their collagen-filled, flagrantly pouty lips at the cameras and depending on who they are, their new kissables look anywhere between sultry and sexy to downright grotesque. First rule here is to have an experienced injector.

COLLAGEN
What it is:
Collagen is a protein that provides support to various parts of the body, including the skin, the joints, bones and ligaments. Injectable collagen is a milky, purified protein fluid derived from the hides of cows. It received FDA approval in 1981, after which time products such as Zyplast and Zyderm became top choices. Restalyne (also known as Restalayne) and Juvaderm are au courrant favorites, largely because as hyaluronic acid products, they represent a naturally occurring substance in the body. Consequently, these fluids are considered harmless to the human body and over 6-8 months, are absorbed into your system.

Benefits:
Injectable collagen is used for a host of age-related concerns such as folds, furrows, acne pits and other depressed scars.

What to expect:
Collagen is injected via a tiny needle just below the skinís surface to help fill up areas that are depressed or, in the case of lips, too thin.

A local anesthetic is mixed into collagen to numb the pain of the injections Ė which can be substantial nonetheless, if youíve particularly deep crevices such as deep marionette lines on either side of the mouth. Be warned, the lips can be particularly sensitive (which is why Iím in awe at some of those celeb. lips I see on TV Ė ouch!)

Because the collagen solution contains water it is quickly absorbed into the body. However, treated areas look swollen for a few hours afterward which is why you might want to return for a touch up and/or correction two weeks post initial treatment.

Results are instantaneous and will last for up to a year. The very mobile lip area is the most short lived, lasting perhaps only 3 months.

Results can be enhanced by combining Botox with filler treatments. Some deep lines, such as those between the eyes, may only be softened and not eliminated through paralysis alone.

Other considerations:
Whenever a needle is used, thereís a chance of bruising, especially if youíve thin and/or fair skin. Marks will usually disappear with a few days. There can also be a lumpiness and bumpiness thatís more felt than seen, and will dissipate over a few weeks.

A very small percentage of patients are allergic to collagen; their reactions may include prolonged swelling, redness and itching at the site. For this reason, physicians should give you (at no charge) a two-part skin test at one month and two weeks before treatment. If they do not, move on to another practitioner.

Cost
Like Botox, the effects of collagen are temporary. Fees average $350 per cc of solution; a typical treatment requires about two ccs. Thatís about $500 for plumper lips!

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