Any discussion about skin quality and aging invariably includes the mention of collagen. Collagen is the most abundant protein found in the human body. It’s the MVP of building blocks for cells. It is in bones, muscles, tendons and skin. Collagen, keratin and elastin give skin its strength elasticity and structure. Imagine what would happen without it. Game over.
The body naturally produces the collagen that it needs, but the natural aging process slows down its production. What’s more, women produce less collagen than men, and it depletes at about 1% per year. By 50 years of age, women have lost nearly half of the collagen in her skin.
With decreased collagen, the skin loses its natural tone and firmness. Fine lines, wrinkles and sagging appear.
What’s a girl to do?
We certainly cannot stop the aging game, but we can be a venerable opponent. Here are a few tactics:
Reduce collagen degradation
Studies show that sun protection is one of the most important ways in which you can combat aging. Sun exposure, pollution, cigarette smoke and insufficient sleep have all been shown to greatly degenerate collagen.
Eat a nutritious diet
Antioxidants help fight the damage from free radicals like sun and pollution. A diet rich in brightly colored produce will ensure you are getting anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory effects to help protect the skin.
Proper skin care
Regularly exfoliating the skin with a gentle exfoliating scrub (Changes Microdermabrasion Scrub) or with alphahydroxy acids (AHAs) can help to slough dead skin cells and allow better absorption of products with proven antioxidative properties. Products with retinol (Changes RA Cream .05) work to both stop collagen degradation from the effects of UV exposure while boosting collagen production.
*Products claiming to deliver collagen topically are ineffective. Beware, the collagen molecule is too big for absorption into the skin.
Collagen stimulating fillers
Hyaluronic acid (HA) is naturally found in our skin and aids in keeping skin cells hydrated. Dermal fillers comprised of HA’s help to stimulate the skin cells that produce collagen. The top two HA fillers are Restylane and Juvederm. They work immediately to plump lines and wrinkles for immediate correction and continue to stimulate collagen production by hydration.
Poly-l-lactic acid or PLLA is the primary component of Sculptra Aesthetic. Sculptra is injected deep in the dermal layers in a series of sessions. PLLA has been proven to correct both collagen loss and fat atrophy. It was originally FDA approved for AIDS patients who had severe fat loss in the cheeks.
When the skin is injured, collagen production increases to help the healing process. Using fractional lasers such as Fraxel, Icon and FX systems, the skin is intentionally injured (in microscopic sections) to stimulate the collagen renewal. Laser treatments lessen brown spots, facial veins, eliminate fine lines, improve texture and brighten the complexion. Some skin tightening may be realized.
Collagen loss may be a formidable opponent in the game of aging, but you’re not out-matched when you play defense against collagen depletion. Put nutrition, sun protection, proper skin care, dermal fillers and lasers in your play book and defend yourself against collagen loss today.
Changes Plastic Surgery & Spa is a leading aesthetic center in San Diego, California and home to two board certified plastic surgeons. A full range of anti-aging lasers and injectable fillers are available.