You can’t scroll through your social media feed or walk down the skin care aisle in your local store without seeing the word “collagen.” But what is it, and what does it do for your skin?
Rick J. Smith, MD, fields these questions daily from our patients in East Lansing, Michigan. People looking to improve the look of their aging skin wonder why collagen is suddenly so popular and whether they should incorporate it into their skin care regimen. Here, Dr. Smith explains collagen’s role.
Collagen under the microscope
If you could look at collagen under a microscope, you’d see long fibrous strands that band together. These protein cells are the main structural element in your body’s connective tissues, providing strength, resilience, and elasticity. Collagen holds your tissues together and protects them from pathogens.
You’ll find several types of collagen in various body parts, including muscles, blood vessels, eyes, organs, hair, and nails. But 90% is in your skin, tendons, ligaments, and bones.
Collagen’s role in your skin
Collagen’s fibrous cells are versatile and perform many functions throughout your body. Its main role in your skin is to provide structure, but it also:
- Aids new cell growth
- Helps your blood clot
- Strengthens your skin
- Promotes elasticity
- Facilitates the replacement of dead skin cells
Unfortunately, around your mid-20s, your body slows its production of collagen, and you see and feel the effects. Your joints may become stiff and less mobile as the collagen in your cartilage wanes, your nails may become weaker, and your skin loses volume and starts to wrinkle.
A diet high in sugar and refined carbs, smoking, and exposure to ultraviolet light can reduce your collagen production prematurely and more rapidly.
How to increase collagen
You can protect your collagen by eating a healthy diet and wearing sunscreen daily, but using topical products containing collagen probably won’t help much — the molecules are too large to cross your skin’s barrier and trigger collagen synthesis. But that doesn’t mean topical products can’t help. Look for creams with vitamin C and vitamin A (retinol), both of which may induce collagen production.
Professional facial treatments can also amp up your collagen supply. We offer several effective therapies as part of our comprehensive skin care services, such as:
- Chemical peels
- LED light therapy
These treatments stimulate the production of new collagen fibers so your skin rejuvenates itself.
We also offer Juvéderm®, one of the leading injectable fillers used to replace lost volume under your skin. Composed mainly of hyaluronic acid, which helps your skin retain moisture, Juvéderm also stimulates collagen production.
Finally, we offer laser skin rejuvenation to address various skin issues, such as hyperpigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles, minor scars, and other blemishes. This treatment uses light energy to vaporize the damaged skin cells leaving your skin looking smoother, fresher, and younger.
Our CO2 laser skin resurfacing system carefully removes the outer layer of your skin, revealing the unblemished, new layer below. As your skin heals, it triggers a fresh supply of collagen that speeds up your recovery and adds more structure to your skin.
If your collagen is depleted, schedule a consultation at Rick J. Smith, MD, to find out which treatment will address your complexion problems best by increasing your natural collagen supply.