What is Collagen?
Collagen is the substance produced by your body which gives skin its youthful look and feel and is the most abundant protein in your body. Collagen is found in virtually every part of your body including skin, bones, muscles, tendons, stomach, blood vessels and teeth. Collagen provides firm and elastic texture to the skin, reducing the wrinkles and sagging which mark the obvious and visible signs of ageing. There is a massive industry involved in creating products which contain collagen with the promise of maintaining a youthful look indefinitely, but there is only one way to really boost your collagen once you are over 20 years old and that is to get your body producing it for itself.
You might think that direct application of collagen through the use of creams on the skin would be a good way to start, but this is not the case. Collagen application onto the skin can make little difference and is not long lasting. For one thing, the collagen molecules are too big to be absorbed by the skin. Basic science says that spreading collagen over your skin is simply not going to work. When creams do work it is usually because of other ingredients that stimulate the body to produce collagen, not because collagen is being applied. Collagen in creams is basically a marketing device, there to make you feel like it’s special and worth spending money on.
As Collagen is one of the body’s main building materials it is used to create new cells as old ones wear out and die. The top layer of skin cells are replaced naturally every two to three weeks. When we exfoliate we are forcing the skin to replace cells more rapidly than if the process was happening naturally, which is why exfoliation can be an effective way to boost collagen production, although not by much.
Collagen is produced by cells known as fibroblasts. When tissue of any kind suffers an injury, fibroblasts are stimulated to create collagen to repair any damage. When we attempt to deliberately stimulate the production of collagen in the skin, we are trying to fool the fibroblasts into believing there is an injury which needs healing. In this way the stimulation of collagen production is started by telling the body to repair itself and here are 5 treatments designed to do just that.
What therapies are best for stimulating collagen production?
Microneedling, or Collagen Induction Therapy, is a technique where fine needles are used to create hundreds of tiny, invisible puncture wounds in the top layer of skin. It might not sound like it, but this procedure is actually fairly painless. The needles are so small that the punctures can hardly be felt, but the body knows they are there and starts producing both collagen and elastin to heal the skin which can have multiple applications. A few sessions of microneedling will noticeably tighten skin and reduce fine lines, laughter lines and crow’s feet as well as deeper wrinkles found on the forehead. Microneedling can also work on Acne scars, sun damage and discolouration.
The Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) treatment, sometimes referred to as the “Vampire Facelift”, uses this healing property, in combination with the growth factors and stem cells contained in the plasma, to restore a youthful appearance to the skin. The process is more highly targeted than microneedling and is performed in two stages. The first stage involves the drawing of blood from the person undergoing the treatment. This blood is then separated in a centrifuge and the growth factors isolated. The second stage is where the plasma is injected into the skin, targeting the areas that will benefit most from these ingredients and from the production of new collagen. The result is a combination of healing and growth from the plasma and the production of new collagen deep under the skin which provides lift and firmness.
IPL is a versatile treatment which uses light and heat to achieve many different results. IPL is most commonly known as a way to remove hair quickly and painlessly but it is also extremely good at treating skin for problems such as wrinkles and sagging, pigmentation, acne and thread veins. When IPL is used for skin rejuvenation and firming it is through the production of collagen as the body responds to the light damage produced by the carefully applied heat. It works by passing light through the epidermis to the dermis where the energy stimulates the fibroblasts to produce fresh collagen, so smoothing and softening the appearance of wrinkles, pores and irregularities in the skin.
IPL used this way needs to be administered by a highly trained professional who understands the need for caution in the settings and any factors that might affect the intensity of the heat produced (such as your level of tanning) as, if incorrectly applied, it is possible to get quite badly burned.
Chemical Peels are used to force the skin to exfoliate, reducing lines and promoting collagen production. There are many different kinds of chemical peel, but regardless of how they are packaged the basic aim is the same and that is to remove a layer of skin and get the body to replace what has been taken away with fresh, young-looking skin. Light peels, which can be applied over a lunchtime if you want, are gentle and safe with only light flaking being a side effect. A light peel will show an immediate difference but needs to be refreshed fairly regularly. Medium and heavy peels require quite more recovery time and the effects take longer to be visible. If you are considering a chemical peel of any kind, it’s important to consult with a professional to make sure your skin is suitable for this kind of treatment and that you get the right type for you.
The sun is one of the great destroyers of collagen. This is why people who are heavily tanned appear to age faster than those who use proper factor suncream and limit their exposure to the harmful types of radiation found in unrestricted sunlight. Thanks to technology, however, it is possible to stimulate collagen by isolating the types of light radiation that work with your body without exposing you to the rest. Infra-red and Red Light have been shown to be extremely effective at stimulating the production of collagen while having no risk of damaging and ageing the skin. Here at Pure Harmony Clinic we have a special Infra-red sauna which is mainly used for relaxation and slimming through rapid calorie burning but which has a fantastic side-effect of telling the fibroblasts that they need to be producing collagen to repair damage that simply doesn’t exist!
Pretty much all treatments that make you look youthful are in some way exploiting the power of collagen and this includes many that we haven’t mentioned such as microdermabrasion, ultrasound, radio frequency, microcurrent and many others. The suitability of the treatments is very much dependent upon the type of skin you have and the effect you want to achieve.
The best thing you can do to make sure you’re using the right treatment is to come in for a consultation where we will look at what you want to do, test your skin if necessary and look at how your complexion and skin condition would be affected by the different types of treatment.
Fill in the form below or call 01788 537176 today to book an appointment to get that collagen factory in your skin working to rejuvenate your life.