What Are The Benefits of Collagen?
Collagen. We hear about it all the time in beauty products that promise to restore youth. But, how much do you know about this protein, what it does, and why it helps keep your skin firm and young-looking? This article will help you understand the benefits of collagen and why they are important.
What Is Collagen?
Collagen is the most common form of protein in your body. It comes in several varieties that compose the bones, muscles, tendons, joints, organs, arteries, hair, and skin. It is essentially the glue in the human body that holds it together.
Quick Facts about Collagen:
- Collagen comes from the Greek word for glue, “Kolla,” and this is exactly how it functions in the body.
- Your body naturally makes collagen from the foods you eat, especially protein-rich foods and produce. The collagen produced daily helps repair the body (e.g. wounds) and maintains its structural integrity.
- Collagen also keeps skin firm, strong, and resilient against gravity (which helps prevent sagging).
- Elastin also plays a role in keeping the skin firm and “bouncy” so that it keeps its shape. It is produced slower in the body than collagen is and, therefore, it can be more difficult to treat conditions that affect it.
Why Is Collagen So Important?
Collagen is like fish bones for your skin. It keeps the skin firm, strong and resilient against gravity and bending. As we age, we break down collagen and produce less of it, which results in thinner, more fragile skin. It decreases faster for smokers, those with excessive sun exposure, and people with poor diets. Due to this decrease, the skin loses its firmness.
How Do We Replenish Collagen?
Unfortunately, we do not have an easy or quick way currently to inject, insert, or replenish collagen. We have to stimulate the skin and then depend on our body’s response to produce and release collagen. Because of that, it’s a lifelong process of fighting! Starting early and staying ahead are the best ways to keep looking and feeling young!
- Collagen creams can be purchased over the counter to help the outermost skin layers, but they do not penetrate the skin or cause continued collagen production.
- Collagen supplements can be taken by mouth, but studies are still out as to their effectiveness. Additionally, this method doesn’t treat the source itself.
- Filler can be injected to decrease wrinkles and folds. Most of them replace diminished hyaluronic acids, but that’s not the same substance as collagen.
By far, the best method for improving collagen levels is stimulating production at the source. By doing so, collagen continues to be produced and provides the area with lasting improvement.
What Are the Current Methods Used to Stimulate Collagen?
Current modalities depend on mechanical or energy-based methods to nudge the body to produce collagen.
Injectables That Stimulate Collagen
Several FDA-approved injections can help the body produce collagen. This can result in firmer skin and a more toned, sculpted look. Each has preferred uses. Your doctor can guide you to the right choice.
Sculptra is one of the most potent injections that stimulate collagen. It works deep in the skin, where topical creams cannot reach. However, it also volumizes the area of injection. So, if we want a flat result, we may need to water it down. And even then, it’s better to limit the injection sites to areas that already have some fat to camouflage a little bit of uneven response to the granules. It also cannot be used in circular muscles with high mobility as the friction can stimulate the growth of nodules. The best areas for Sculptra are temples, lower cheeks, and buttocks. Its unique formula encourages the skin to produce collagen again with results that may last up to two years!
- This injectable stimulates collagen production in the skin through its formula that contains PLLA, or poly-L lactic acid.
- The results include firmer skin with a noticeable decrease in wrinkles and sagging skin.
- It is great for the temples, lower cheeks, and butt and creates a more sculpted, rounder appearance in these areas.
Radiesse is a type of filler (calcium hydroxyapatite) that can stimulate some production of collagen. It’s not as potent as Sculptra in collagen production, but it has immediate volumizing effects while Sculptra develops volume over time.
NovaThreads uses a different type of injectable to produce effects. Polydioxanone threads, typically used in surgery, are used to sculpt faces.
- Originally used in surgeries to promote healthy healing and collagen production, these threads have gained popularity. Now, NovaThreads injections place these threads under the skin, which can be absorbed by the body after 6 months. The threads provide support until natural collagen arises and maintains the skin lift for approximately two years.
- Great for lifting and contouring the face without surgery!
- The facial injections result in a sculpted, firmer face. This technique can also be used in the lips, neck, and other areas of the body.
Microneedling is a mechanical method to stimulate collagen. It is more versatile than Sculptra in its placement. The little puncture sites of 1,000 per minute ignite the healing mechanism of the skin. In return, the skin releases growth factors and collagen which tightens and thickens the surrounding skin. The microneedling device is motorized for single-hand use, and they drive narrow controlled punctures. This reduces the risk of infections and scarring.
- This process can be done on nearly any part of the body (including areas not eligible for direct injection) to produce firmer skin.
- Through natural healing, the skin becomes firmer, tougher, and thicker.
- The procedure itself is minimally-invasive and safe for any age as long as you are in good health. Most patients tolerate it very well and see immediate results.
- The treatment also boosts the production of elastin, a natural compound that helps with the skin’s elasticity.
Microneedling improves skin quality and texture. These sessions should be done with a professional to ensure there is not too much force or too frequent pricking on the skin, both of which can irritate the skin.
Please note that at home roller devices are bad for the skin because they can cause infections through repeated uncleanable use. In addition, they tear the skin as rolling is taking place.
Some techniques use energy to stimulate collagen production. Radiofrequency or laser therapy can be used to target areas you wish to improve.
Viora uses radiofrequency wavelengths to stimulate collagen production in the body. These treatments are approved for use on the face or body to produce tighter, younger-looking skin.
- Designed to tighten skin and improve its quality, thereby making it appear younger and firmer.
- Each session lasts anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes and can be done completely outpatient.
- Patients tolerate this well and feel little to no discomfort.
- The only side effect is some redness at the site that fades within a few hours.
No downtime is needed for these procedures. They are incredibly safe and can be used on nearly anyone.
Laser Genesis Therapy
Certain laser wavelengths can be pulsed to pass through the outer layer of the skin and stimulate the cells underneath to produce collagen. Laser Genesis was created for this purpose and is tolerated by all skin types- including dark skin. It also helps diminish red spots, small capillaries, brown spots, pores, and induce tightening and firmness of the skin. Usually, about 6-8 sessions are recommended, with the frequency of every other week.
While replenishing collagen is slow due to its dependency on our own body to produce it, hyaluronic acids can actually be injected directly and so they have an immediate result.
Hyaluronic acid is a clear, viscous liquid that the body naturally produces. It is used in the skin, tissues, and eyes. It keeps these areas moist and assists healing. These unique acids can hold 1,000 times their weight in water. Hyaluronic acids are not synonymous with collagen. It’s a different protein that also gets depleted with aging.
As we lose hyaluronic acid, our skin has the appearance of shriveling up. That’s how wrinkles start to form. Also, with normal levels of hyaluronic acids, the appropriate water content of the skin resists extreme movement of the muscles. That’s why as we age and lose this water density, we become hyper animated. Our smiles are a little bigger, our lips purse more, our eyebrows move up and down more aggressively, and our skin folds more, resulting in even more deepening of the shriveling wrinkles.
We have a lot of different types of hyaluronic acid’s in the market right now. They differ in density and the bonds between the molecules. So, some provide more resistance, some provide more hydration, and others provide more volume and firmness.
The level of administration also has an impact. There are topical hyaluronic acids that unfortunately wash away and dry out quickly. When using topical products, reapplying them throughout the day is very important. We can also use Microneedling and aqua gold to tattoo the smaller particles of hyaluronic acid in the very superficial layers of the skin that is difficult to reach with a syringe.
To directly fill the wrinkles, the product needs to be injected intradermally. Each has its own set of pros and cons. Your injector should be able to differentiate which one is right for your specific goals.
Once you get your body to produce collagen to keep skin firmer and more youthful, the next step is finding something to aid elastin production. Elastin is made naturally in the body and helps keep skin elastic so that, when it is stretched, it returns to its original size and form.
Elastin production takes longer within the body and results aren’t immediately visible. Elastin plays a long-term role in keeping skin firm and youthful.
- Elastin can be stimulated with PRP, PRF, or microneedling procedures.
- There are also topical products that help stimulate production and are applied directly to the skin.
- Soon, injectables will be available to increase the speed of elastin production and yield faster results.
While you won’t see an immediate impact, without elastin production, your skin may not hold its shape as long. Having a dual approach can bring success and make you look and feel younger.
The benefits of collagen include younger-looking skin that is firm, glows, and avoids wrinkles. Consult with your cosmetic provider to find out what method of collagen stimulation would work best for you!