Can Drinking Collagen Eliminate the Need For Botox?

Jager Weatherby on 20 Nov 2014 at 5:00pm

Drinking From a Water Bottle

Have smooth and youthful-looking skin? You can thank your collagen for that. This naturally occurring protein is what gives us baby soft faces when we’re young, but as time passes, our bodies produce less of it. The result is thinner, less elastic skin… and yes, those dreaded wrinkles.

Botox, an injectable that temporarily relaxes the muscles to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, has remained the #1 cosmetic treatment since 2000. According to the American Society For Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, the procedure was performed nearly 4 million times in 2013 alone.

MORE: Botox For Men Is Getting So Popular, They’re Calling It “Bro-tox”

Given these statistics, it’s easy to see why cosmetics companies are constantly releasing products that claim to boost our collagen and give a similar effect as Botox. However, the latest addition to this list isn't your traditional topical serum; it’s a drinkable supplement of collagen derived from freshwater fish. (Don’t worry. They flavor it to make it more palatable.)

Skinade Collagen DrinksThese drinks, like the ones produced by Skinade and Functionalab, promise to deliver collagen directly to the bloodstream, as well as stimulate the body’s natural collagen production. When consumed daily for up to 12 weeks, the drink supposedly improves skin’s smoothness, reduces fine lines, and prevents the formation of deep wrinkles — all for the low, low price of $140 per month. (OK, maybe not so low.)

Many online reviews say collagen drinks may eliminate the need for needles, but are they really an alternative to Botox? Not according to the community of board-certified plastic surgeons and dermatologists here on RealSelf.

“Collagen is a very large molecule and will be broken down in the stomach before any part of it is absorbed,” explains Denver facial plastic surgeon Dr. Stephen Weber. “It’s not possible to consume collagen and have it deposited intact in your tissues. Botox works by reducing unfavorable muscle contraction and consuming collagen will have no effect on this aspect of facial aging.”

“The makers of collagen supplements suggest that their products supply more building blocks of collagen for your skin,” adds Minneapolis plastic surgeon Dr. Edward Szachowicz. “Even if this is true, it will not eliminate the need for Botox, as the benefit of Botox comes from the relaxation of the muscles, not improving the nutrients to the skin.”

MORE: Doctor Q&A: How Can I Increase Collagen Production?

Sure, this information is disappointing, but it’s better not to waste the money — especially when you consider that Botox, at roughly $500 for results that last four to six months, is actually more cost-effective in the end.

Looking to rule out needles entirely? Salt Lake City dermatologist Dr. Karen Stolman suggests prescription tretinoin, a form of vitamin A that’s often used to treat acne. “There is plenty of scientific literature to support that topically applied tretinoin will get to the dermis and stimulate fibroblasts to make new collagen,” she explains. “I would save your money for investing in something that has the literature to support it.” [Tweet This Statistic]

Have you tried sipping a collagen drink? If so, what are your thoughts?

Photo credits: Some rights reserved by Jeremy Brooks; Courtesy of Skinade