You hear a lot of buzz words when it comes to treating the signs of aging on your face: hyaluronic acid, collagen, and erbium are just a few examples. If you’re beginning to explore your options for fighting wrinkles or reducing other signs of aging, the terminology can be confusing, especially since some terms go in and out of fashion quickly.
For example, a few years ago, collagen injections were the popular pick for people looking to smooth line and wrinkles or add volume. But between 2000 and 2013, the number of collagen injections given in the U.S. fell by 90 percent, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Collagen still plays an important role in when it comes to anti-aging. But the way surgeons and patients make use of it has changed in recent years.
What Collagen Does
Collagen is a type of protein that is produced naturally by the body. It plays an important part in the development of connective tissue, which holds skin, muscle and other tissues in place. One of the areas collagen can be found is in the dermis, or the second layer of skin. The collagen in the dermis helps hold up and support the skin, preventing wrinkles and sagging.
When you’re younger, your body is able to produce collagen on its own, so that any loss is quickly replaced and your skin continues to look firm and youthful. But as you age, your production of collagen slows. You not only make less collagen as you get older, what you do produce tends to be weaker than the collagen you made in your youth. While general, natural aging does play a part in the reduction of collagen, external forces also come into play, such as sun exposure, a poor diet and habits such as smoking.
Restoring and Replacing Collagen: Fillers and Injections
For the most part, injectable fillers made of collagen are no longer on the market. That’s generally good news, as there were a number of issues with collagen injections. Unlike hyaluronic acid fillers, there was a considerable risk of an allergic reaction from a collagen injection. The injections could also cause lumpiness and other side effects and didn’t last nearly as long as fillers available today.
Certain fillers now available do restore or replace collagen in the dermis, but act differently from standard collagen injections. One such filler, Radiesse, is made of a synthetic material called calcium hydroxylapatite. It’s used to add volume to the face and to reduce wrinkles and lines. Although it’s not made from collagen, the injection helps stimulate the body’s production of the protein.
Radiesse helps fight the signs of aging in two ways. The substance works immediately to smooth and volumize the face. Since it spurs collagen production, once the substance itself has worn off, the effects of the injection can still be seen.
Sculptra is another injectable that stimulates the body’s production of collagen. It’s made from another substance, poly-l-lactic acid, which encourages the production of collagen in the dermis. Sculptra is different from Radiesse in that it doesn’t produce immediate results. Instead, you receive a series of injections, spaced out over the course of a few months.
Results appear gradually and naturally, as the body begins to increase the production of collagen. The injections generally help restore lost volume in the facial area. Although it can take a long time for results to appear, the trade off is that they then last for a considerable amount of time, up to two years.
Restoring and Replacing Collagen: Laser Treatments
Injections aren’t the only way to boost or restore collagen production. Another minimally invasive option is laser skin resurfacing, which gives cell turnover a boost and in turn stimulates collagen production.
As you get older, not only does your body produce less collagen, it also turns over dead skin cells more slowly. The buildup of dead cells on the surface can make your skin look dull and lifeless. Laser skin treatments, whether they are ablative treatments, such Erbium laser, or less invasive options, such as Fraxel, exfoliate the top layer skin, either by destroying the cells or by targeting specific areas of the skin. The exfoliation also increases collagen production, so that the texture of skin improves, as well as lines, wrinkles and any discoloration.
The way surgeons use collagen might have changed over the years, but one thing remains the same: it plays an important role when it comes to fighting the signs of aging. At the Naderi Center in Virginia and Maryland, Dr. Jessica Kulak, an aging and face specialist, can help you choose the treatment that will work best for you. To learn more about collagen and your anti-aging options, schedule an appointment today. Call 301-222-2020 to reach the practice in Virginia or 703-481-0002 to reach the Maryland practice.