Collagen is a word often thrown around in the cosmetic industry. Many pills, lotions and potions claim to contain collagen or collagen-producing properties, and beauty magazines panic about the weakening of it as we age. But this isn’t just a scare-mongering tactic created by corporations to get us to buy their products – collagen is an essential structural part of our bodies.
The word collagen comes from the Greek word kolla, meaning ‘glue’ – an incredibly apt description for this complex molecule. Collagen is a protein made up of amino acids and is the most common protein in humans, making up 25-35% of the total protein content in the entire body. They are most commonly produced by fibroblasts, which is a type of cell that synthesizes the structural framework for tissues and plays a critical part in healing wounds.
Collagen is needed for a whole host of functions. The collagen fibres support body tissues and are a major component of cell supports. When coupled with keratin it gives the skin its strength, waterproofing and elasticity. Connective tissue is comprised mostly of collagen, and provides the structure for fibrous tissue such as ligaments, tendons and skin. Collagen is also found in cartilage bone, blood vessels, the cornea of the eye, intervertebral discs, muscles and the gastrointestinal tract.
As we age the collagen we produce becomes weaker and the impact of this is noticeable in our appearance and overall health. The majority of age-related changes to the skin occur in the dermis, which can lose from 20-80% of its thickness during the aging process. This is due to changes in the fibroblasts, the cell that helps to make the collagen. Not only is the collagen made at a slower rate because of these changes (which impacts on the skin’s ability to repair itself) but it also modifies the organization of the protein that affects the structure of the skin, causing wrinkles.
So worrying about those fine lines is not just about being vain, there is real damage going on there. But how can we avoid it? Below are a few examples of things you can do to boost collagen and lessen the inevitable signs of ageing:
- Avoid habits that destroy collagen such as smoking, overexposure to the sun, poor nutrition, stress and inadequate hydration.
- HRT (hormone replacement therapy) can slow down the effect of declining skin tautness, loss of bone density and even encourage elasticity in the arteries. This is usually prescribed to women going through the menopause and does come with a few risks, so always make sure that that you have spoken about these in-depth with your doctor before taking them.
- A diet rich in plant proteins (soy, quinoa, nuts, avocado, legumes etc.) have a positive effect on the strength of collagen
- Omega 3 fatty acids (tofu, canola oil, walnuts, sardines, flaxseed etc.) are excellent in improving joint flexibility and have a great deal of positive metabolic and mood elevating properties.
- Vitamin D can contribute to a healthy, flexible, bone matrix and also helps with the overall appearance of the skin.
- Calcium and collagen work together to help strengthen bones.
- Vitamin C helps support healthy collagen.
- Exercise can aid in muscle development which stimulates new growth of collagen and prevents atrophy, or the loss of muscle mass.
Atrophy can contribute to loose, saggy skin, and can also cause a decline in bone density.
These tips are great preventative measures for younger people concerned for their health and for those with minor signs of ageing, but there are also genetic factors to consider as wrinkles are not just brought about by diet and environment. Also, what if the damage has already been done? Can you ever reverse it?
There are creams and pills available on the market that claim to provide additional collagen for anti-ageing purposes, yet it is not the body’s ability to absorb nutrients that’s the problem – it’s the way the proteins are made in the first place that is damaged.
But now with the development of new skin therapies there are ways to remedy this. Courthouse Clinics provides a whole host of treatments that actively encourage the production of healthy, new collagen. These treatments can also stop damage from occurring, which means the below options are both a form of pre-emption and resolutions to the problem:
- Dermaroller – this involves rolling a handheld barrel covered in tiny micro needles across the skin. They rupture the cells and, as the healing process begins, healthier collagen is made. The procedure levels out scarring, evens pigmentation issues and diminishes wrinkles.
- Skin Resurfacing (i.e. Fraxel) – a gentle laser is used, and the light omitted is absorbed by the water in the damaged collagen beneath the skin. As a result, the older damaged collagen is remodelled into newer, smoother-looking skin.
- Microdermabrasion – this procedure is a mechanical exfoliation that removes dead cells and stimulates collagen growth.
- Chemical Peels – a solution is put onto the skin which encourages the dead skin to peel off, leaving the skin looking fresher and encourages collagen growth.
- Skin Tightening (i.e. Thermage) – this uses radiofrequency technology to stimulate collagen production in the deeper layers of your skin.
If you are interested in boosting the production of collagen in your skin, you can speak to a member of our customer care team today on 0845 555 5050. They will be able to help you determine the best course of action for you and can also book a consultation with one of our expert clinicians. You can also read more about the services we offer on our website by clicking here.