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Collagen triple helix.jpg
Other names


Molecular formula C2H5NOC5H9NOC5H10NO2
Molar mass Molar mass::1000
Appearance fibrous; gelatinous when boiled
CAS number CAS number::9007-34-5
Melting point [[Melting point::<20-41°C]]
Boiling point Boiling point::100°C
Molecular shape triple helix
MSDS Material Safety Data Sheet
Main hazards Irritant to eyes and respiratory system
R/S statement R: serious eye damage
harmful to aquatic organisms
long term effects on environment
S: take appropriate precautions
protective clothing
avoid prolonged or repeated exposure

Collagen is a protein fiber created by the human body. This protein is used in many ways throughout body systems. It is most importantly utilized to keep all the organs in the body connected. Not only does it aid in supporting bodily organs and in connective tissues, but it also plays a large role in the body's healing process. As the body ages, collagen production slows, which is why ligaments and tendons become weak. Collagen has a hard enough time producing itself because of the limited blood flow to the structures, but factor in aging and it becomes worse. The elasticity and flexibility of the collagen allows it to sufficiently hold together muscles to bones, and bones to bones without wearing out.


In elastic ligaments, the elastic material consists of thick fibers interspersed with collagen fibers.

Collagen is a protein in the human body that is made up of amino acids. This fibrous arrangement is also known as fibrous scleroproteins. This chain of molecules is made up of 19 amino acids. The most significant contributors being proline, glycine, hydroxyproline and hydroxyzine. The amino acids themselves are composed of different elements such as carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. Over one hundred of these combined, form a pattern of amino acids and produce polypeptide and molecular chains. These chains of acids join together to form super helices, which are the sequences of three repeating amino acids. [1]

The collagen structure itself is made up of three helical peptides. When they combine they form a tropocollagen, five of which combine to form one fiber segment. At the ends of each of these fiber segments it is staggered so that they can overlap each other with the tropocollagen in other segments. This creates a strong and stable fiber. This highly ordered structure allows the collagen to be rigid and inextensible. [2]

It is naturally produced by the body, but can also be taken into the body through outer food sources. This will help support the skin and other internal organs. For example, by adding mineral crystals to the body's collagen, it will help make up bones and teeth. Their fibres will also weave together and form a network of new cells that will grow and reproduce.[3]

When under high temperature conditions, such as having a high fever, the collagen's molecular structure is disrupted. Even a modicum amount of acidity, bacteria, or temperature rise may possibly cause the structure to degenerate. Whenever this occurs the collagen loses its effectiveness, de-coagulates, and degenerates. [4]


A blood vessel containing collagen (colored red) and elastin (colored green).

Collagen makes up the connective tissues in ligaments (connection of bone-to-bone) and tendons (connection of bones-to-muscles). It is the fascia that covers the muscles and joint capsule tissues. [5] This fibrous structural protein makes up the white fibres of the skin, tendon, bone, cartilage, and other connective tissue. It is the body's natural protein that composes most of its structural support, holding the body together. It is present in every multicellular organism and gives organs and tissues their strength and elasticity. It makes up about 25% of dry protein weight in the human body, 75% of the body's skin, and overall 35% of the entire human body. [6]Fourteen different collagen varieties help form several body parts. [7] It appears in, not only tendons and ligaments, but in joints, muscles, hair, skin, and other vital organs.[8]


Collagen is used to hold the human body together and heal any injuries that may occur in the tendon and ligaments. Because of the poor blood supply in the ligaments and tendons, it is difficult for wounds to heal. This is opposite of the muscle, which gets an adequate amount of blood supply throughout and can heal much more sufficiently. Collagen is limited by the blood supply and other necessities to rebuild itself and repair the damages. [9]

The human body's skin is held together by collagen. The younger the body, the more smooth and less wrinkles it has because of the greater quality and quantity of collagen. As a person ages the collagen will diminish and breakdown.[10] By the age of 25, collagen production will begin to decline. By age 55, approximately over 15% of the body's production capacity will be gone. After age 70, over 30% of collagen is lost. Since most of the body's repairing is done at night, when production slows the body's amount of sleep that is needed will also decline. [11] Other factors that contribute to the deterioration of collagen is sun exposure, facial movement, and gravity aggravation. Symptoms that are visible are wrinkles or creases, less full cheeks, and the thinning out of the upper lip. It will dry out and loose its stretching capabilities. [12]

It does not only breakdown in the face, but also in other body parts such as ligaments, tendons, and areas in and around the joints. When collagen is lost it may lead to pain and degenerative joint diseases or degenerative disc disease. [13] Some specific diseases caused by the loss of collagen are: arthritis, fibromyalgia, bursitis, and tendonitis. [14]

Collagen Injections

Collagen injection

For decades collagen injections have been used to repair skin imperfections on the human body. They are most often used to treat facial skin such as laugh lines, wrinkles, crow's feet, and acne scars, but they are also used to create fuller lips, cheeks, chest, back, and neck. They are commonly used along with face lifts or laser skin resurfacing. These operations are comparatively inexpensive next to other procedures. They are also found to be more economical and convenient to its patients. The actual procedure only takes from 30-60 minutes and the patient would be able to return home the same day. After only a few days they will see results and any puffiness and bruising should have disappeared. [15]

Most patients opting for collagen injections are between the ages of 35 and 60. Ideally they should still have relatively flexible skin. These people generally just want to minimize any signs of aging, like touching up smile or frown lines. Some candidates may just want to perfect themselves after a separate cosmetic procedure. [16]

There are a few different types of collagen injections, the most popular being bovine because it is effective and inexpensive. Bovine collagen is taken from cows' skin. After being purified and sterilized is it liquefied for the treatment. Another is called autologen collagen, which is derived from the patient's own skin. It is taken during the same operation, liquefied and then re-injected into the skin. Isolagen collagen is also another type of collagen that is taken from the patient's skin, but this one is taken from behind the ear and created by cloning collagen-making cells. Dermalogen collagen is extracted from a deceased human donor, sterilized, and processed. This type could be more effective than bovine collagen because it has a tendency to last longer. [17]

Although the results of collagen injections can be very rewarding and for the most part safe and effective, there are also many risks. As with any surgical procedure, these risks sometimes get overlooked. The most common are allergic reactions. Generally the surgeon will have given the patient an allergy test before any treatment is done to ensure their safety and eligibility. Other risks include: uneven skin tone near treatment area, bacterial infection, anesthesia reaction, redness, swelling or bruising, itching, abscesses, open sores, peeling, scarring, or lumpiness. [18]

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