Whenever you talk about anti-aging, collagen seems to come up. You may have a vague understanding that collagen helps keep our skin looking youthful, but what, exactly, is collagen? Why is it connected to aging? And can we do anything to improve it?
To answer these questions and more, we have put together a comprehensive guide with everything you ever wanted to know about collagen. Continue reading to get a better understanding of this critical and beneficial anti-aging necessity.
What is Collagen
Collagen is not just a component of youthful skin. In fact, collagen is a natural substance found throughout the body. Of all the proteins within our tissues, collagen is the most abundant. Amazingly, it accounts for about one-third of your body’s protein. Collagen is found not only in the skin but also in bone, muscles, tendons, cartilage, blood vessels, organs, hair, and nails.
Collagen is made up of strings of amino acids combined in such a way that they form fibers. These fibers add structure and elasticity to tissue. Collagen is essential to how your body works in countless ways. In your skin, collagen is responsible for keeping skin from sagging as well as maintaining skin’s smoothness and elasticity.
How Collagen is Lost
The body produces collagen through the process of combining amino acids, which it gets from the foods you eat (more on this later). However, aging, along with other environmental factors, slows the production of collagen.
The body produces approximately 1 to 1.5 percent less collagen every year after the age of twenty. As production decreases, the tight and organized framework of collagen within the skin begins to weaken into a more loose and disjointed structure. This is a naturally occurring phenomenon, and there is no way to completely halt this decrease in collagen production.
One factor that we do have control over is diet, and this is important because our diet provides our bodies with the building blocks of collagen. Collagen and its components are found most abundantly in animal products. Bone broth, chicken, beef, pork, fish, shellfish, and eggs are all rich sources of collagen or amino acids. Plant-based foods that include compounds that aid in the production of collagen include citrus, berries, leafy greens, beans, nuts and seeds, and garlic.
Sugar, on the other hand, depletes collagen, as do other highly processed foods. It is best to avoid sugar and stick to a whole-food diet to aid your body in the production of collagen.
Sun exposure is extremely damaging to collagen in the skin. UV radiation not only causes damage to existing collagen but also inhibits collagen production in the skin. It is essential to always wear sunscreen to protect your skin.
Smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and a lack of sleep or exercise can all contribute to diminishing collagen production. Many of the factors that contribute positively to collagen production also improve your overall health, so it is a good idea to maintain a healthy lifestyle for a number of reasons, including the youthful appearance of your skin.
Can Collagen be Stimulated with Home Measures?
As we mentioned, collagen production is tied to a healthy diet and lifestyle. However, as we age, these factors may only maximize our potential to produce collagen, not create a quick or drastic skin transformation. Are there other ways to stimulate collagen and make a significant change in your skin’s appearance?
Do Supplements Work?
Many tout the benefits of collagen supplementation, which is currently very on-trend. It is important to note that supplements rarely make up for a poor diet and lifestyle. The body does not utilize ingested collagen in its original form. Instead, the body will break down the collagen you consume into smaller parts and utilize it for many things in addition to the synthesis of new collagen.
Consequently, there is insufficient evidence currently that these types of supplements are effective. Few studies have been done, and while some studies did show improvement, they were poorly controlled with limited follow-up to determine what the long-term benefits of supplementation may be.
Face creams that contain collagen may have a surface effect making the skin look smooth and full, but collagen is found in the deeper layers of the skin and large collagen molecules cannot penetrate the outer surface. There are products that contain ingredients that can aid in the production of collagen, and you can reach out to our experts any time for a more in-depth look into recommended product lines.
Professional Treatments Have the Biggest Impact
The most effective approach to boosting collagen production is professional treatments. There are multiple options out there, and the right treatment for you will depend on your individual concerns and goals.
Ultherapy is a gentle approach to stimulating collagen production. It utilizes ultrasound technology, which is safe, effective, and non-invasive (Ultherapy is non-surgical and does not require any needles). Using intense ultrasound technology, Ultherapy delivers energy to the deeper layers of the skin to stimulate collagen production without damaging or otherwise affecting the skin’s surface. Ultherapy is FDA approved to treat the neck, brow, under-chin, and décolletté.
Thermage utilizes radiofrequency energy to gently tighten, lift, and contour skin, with natural-looking results in just one session. Thermage works by contracting and tightening existing collagen while also stimulating the body to produce new collagen. Like several of the other treatments mentioned on this list, there is no downtime, no surgery or injections, and not at all uncomfortable. Thermage can be used to treat the eye area, including upper and lower lids, the face, the chin/jawline, and many areas over the body.
Exilis Ultra utilized two types of technology, radio frequency and ultrasound, to tighten the skin over most areas of the body. This treatment is safe, and the depth of the treatment can be customized to personalize treatment. Exilis Ultra is painless, non-invasive, and requires no recovery time. It is effective at stimulating collagen production in the following areas:
- Upper arms
- Bra roll/back fat
- Lower back
The Silhouette InstaLift is sometimes also referred to as a thread lift or a lunchtime facial. This is not a surgical facelift and therefore requires little to no downtime. A local anesthetic is used to numb the area while a dissolvable suture is inserted beneath the skin and guided between specific points to immediately lift the skin. In addition, the shape and material of the thread begin stimulating new collagen production, which increases over the next several months.
Radiesse is a dermal filler that is an injectable for promoting a youthful appearance. Radiesse is made up of tiny calcium microspheres in a gel suspension. It immediately plumps the skin and smooths fine lines. Over time, Radiesse also promotes the production of new collagen within the skin.
The Radiance ULift
The ULift is our own proprietary approach to comprehensive anti-aging treatment and results. This approach does not involve surgery or downtime but still provides results that last for two or more years. The ULift often begins with an ultrasound-guided analysis to determine specific areas of collagen loss. After this in-depth analysis, we will evaluate which collagen stimulating treatment or combination of treatments will best suit your personalized plan. Treatments may include:
The ULift is our premier treatment option to address collagen loss and restore a smoother, lifted, more youthful appearance.
Which Option is Right for You?
All of these treatments make up the best collagen-boosting professional treatments offered by Radiance. Compared with more drastic surgical options, these are minimally invasive, more affordable, and require very little downtime. They all provide natural-looking results that appear over time so that you do not look like you’ve “had work done” because they work with your body’s natural collagen production mechanisms to visibly improve your skin.
Deciding which treatment path is right for you will depend on personal factors. We would love to discuss your best treatment options with you. To start your personalized plan for improving collagen and restoring your youthful-looking skin, schedule a consultation with our experts.