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An update on an old cosmetic fad: horse collagen injections

An update on an old cosmetic fad: horse collagen injections
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Collagen booster MelbourneCollagen from dead horses is now part of a new anti-ageing treatment that some – the manufacturers, namely – think will be bigger than anti-wrinkle injections. The company responsible for this new injectable treatment, Nithya, has bypassed the usual source of collagen – cows – in favour of horses.

A course of horse collagen injections costs a Briton £1,200, and comes from the tendons of horses that have been killed for meat. The company claims that the collagen in their injections is better, because it more closely resembles human collagen. The injections are 3-4mm deep into the skin.

How natural collagen works as an anti-ageing treatment

Collagen is the protein scaffolding that keeps skin together and firm on the inside. Special cells produce collagen, called fibroblasts. As we age, fibroblasts produce less and less collagen, resulting in sagging scaffolding. In our Melbourne clinic, we use a vast range of collagen-stimulating anti-ageing treatment devices and applications, ranging from radiofrequency to peels to dermal filler injections, but we do not use animal collagen. The point of these non-animal-derived anti-ageing treatments remains the same: to trigger the body’s natural collagen production and let our cells do the work (in a vegetarian way).

Collagen stimulators and where we get collagen from

Injecting animal tissue into the skin in the name of beauty is not new. Up until about 15 years ago, cosmetic dermatologists were using collagen from the skin of cows, protein from pigs, and even dermal filler from the combs of roosters. One of the main issues with the bovine-collected collagen was that about three per cent of those it was injected into had a bad reaction. There was an extra risk of blood-borne disease too, particularly mad cow disease.

The company, which launched the product in 2016, said that the product was ‘completely safe with no long-term side-effects’, however this is almost never true in cosmetic dermatology: there are always risks, and injecting foreign proteins into the skin runs a reasonable risk of allergic or hypersensitivity reactions in some people.

Turns out, Nithya is actually a rebranding exercise of a product called Linerase that had to be reformulated to a lower dose (70ml instead of 100ml) due to reported allergic reactions. The reports of these reactions were that there was swelling and pain for three or four days post-treatment. Many of the reactions appeared to be sensitivity reactions, as opposed to full allergic reactions, however some were full allergic reactions.

Why are they using animal-based collagen instead of regular collagen-stimulating dermal fillers?

Cosmetic dermatologists are always on the hunt for products that act as effective anti-ageing treatments for our patients, and sometimes it is found in unlikely places.

We have a range of (vegetarian) collagen-stimulating anti-ageing treatments.

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