What is Collagen and What Happens to it When We Age?
You have probably heard the word “collagen” many times in reference to the skin. You may have seen it on numerous product labels and television commercials, promising to be the answer for healthy and youthful-looking skin. But what is collagen, exactly, and what kind of effects can people expect to see from it as they age?
What is Collagen?
Collagen is a natural type of protein which makes up over 80% of a person’s skin. It is one of three major components of skin, the other two being elastin and glycosaminoglycans. It is what provides the tissues and organs with necessary strength, with the elastin providing the stretching abilities. It is a very important structural protein and is found all throughout the body, including the muscles and bones – not just the skin. It also plays a role in strengthening the blood vessels. However, maintaining the collagen in the skin is essential to having healthy and youthful good looks.
How is the Skin Affected by Aging?
The collagen in the skin is affected by age in various ways. The skin becomes thinner and drier, and develops sags and wrinkles due to the collagen and elastin becoming disconnected. The growth of new skin cells also slows down dramatically, which contributes to dull-colored skin as the dead cells do not shed themselves as quickly. Aging skin is also much more susceptible to the development of brown spots on the face and body. There are two types of skin aging: intrinsic aging, which is hereditary, and extrinsic, which can be caused by a variety of environmental factors.
How Skin Can Become Damaged
As people grow older, intrinsic and extrinsic aging of the skin occurs, and must be protected against as much as possible. Sun damage is one of the most common sources of deteriorated collagen in the skin. Blemish spots, blotchy complexion, skin cancer and a leathery look are all problems that can come from overexposure to the sun. Smoking is another common culprit – tobacco smoke contains chemicals that stimulate collagen-destroying enzymes and slows down the fibroblastic cells which produce collage by 40%. A smoker’s face is likely to look wrinkled, grey and dried out.
What Can You Do?
The aging of the skin and deterioration of collagen is a natural, normal process of life. However, there are ways to keep skin looking healthy and youthful. Obviously, it is best to stop smoking and live a healthy lifestyle, but there are also collagen treatments available for those who want to minimize the signs of facial aging. Injections of collagen in the skin only take up to one hour in the doctor’s office to receive, and show improvement in the appearance within just a couple of days. Collagen treatments can target sagging lips, crow’s feet, forehead wrinkles and even some scars. The injection treatments can be combined with laser skin resurfacing or even a facelift to get the best, most natural-looking results.
People have been enjoying collagen injections to fight the signs of aging for decades. They are now becoming common and inexpensive enough that nearly anyone can have access to this powerful anti-aging treatment. You can discuss collagen injection treatments with your doctor when you are ready to try out a new and improved look.