Collagen: it’s the natural ingredient present in your skin, muscles, and connective tissue that makes them resilient, smooth, elastic, and plump with volume, too. Without enough of it, skin becomes loose, deflated, or even develops fine lines and wrinkles.
Now, new research shows that dermal fillers may help to reverse this problem – and not only by re-plumping the tissue with fillers, either. Injectables like Juvederm and Restylane might also stimulate your body to produce more collagen again. Here’s what you need to know!
First, let’s talk about what collagen really is.
Think of this substance as the “scaffolding” that holds the rest of your body together (sort of like a net). When that net is firm, the tissues it supports will be firm, too. When it is lax or thin, support wanes, leaving tissues to sag or become overly stretchy.
Endogenous collagen (that’s the collagen your own body produces) is synthesized in the body from precursor ingredients, including naturally-occurring hyaluronic acid.
Exogenous collagen, on the other hand, is the collagen you ingest or somehow take into your body from outside sources. While they are both technically collagen, they aren’t the same.
Endogenous collagen is extremely strong – in some studies, it has proven to be stronger than even steel. It is most commonly found in skin, bones, and connective tissues, but may be found in other areas of the body, too.
In a healthy human, the body maintains strong collagen throughout the body throughout most of childhood, teenhood, and early adulthood. It isn’t until around age 30 that production begins to slow down; that’s when fine lines appear.
COLLAGEN’S ROLE IN FINE LINES & SKIN ELASTICITY
As you age, collagen production slows down and you begin to lose the collagen you already have. That’s exactly why so many people begin to notice fine lines by around age 30 – sometimes a little bit more, sometimes a little bit less.
As your body becomes less efficient at producing collagen, skin begins to sag. This happens at a different rate for everyone, but ultimately, it’s a future we all face if we live long enough.
Simply taking in exogenous collagen isn’t enough to replace your natural endogenous collagen. While there is some evidence to prove it can help, the body does not absorb it in the same way, meaning it’s a far less efficient fix.
The same is true for topical collagen creams. The molecules within them are far too large to properly absorb, meaning any other benefit you get from the lotion is probably coming from the other ingredients.
STIMULATE COLLAGEN PRODUCTION – NATURALLY
Injectables don’t need to absorb through the skin; they can be injected directly into the tissue. This essentially skips over the problem with absorbency so common to topical creams. But that’s really just the beginning.
In this study, researchers were able to prove that injectable fillers containing HA not only immediately plumped photodamaged skin, but also had a long-term effect on local collagen production and plumping. This effect was two-fold if the end user had treatments at regular intervals. Over time, they required fewer injectables to get the same results – and some never needed additional treatments at all.
Filler injectables also contain naturally-occurring precursor ingredients (like hyaluronic acid) that tell the body to increase localized collagen production. When injected directly into the body, local tissues perceive them as your body increasing its own production of HA. It responds by increasing collagen production within that specific area or zone.
This is essentially the same process your body uses to keep skin plump and taught in early adulthood – we’re just replacing the HA from an outside source in a way that makes it easier to take up or use.
Frank Wang, one of the researchers assigned to the study, told Archives of Dermatology about the exciting results they were seeing. “We found that in addition to filling up space, these injections induce robust production of collagen, thought to give rise to the smooth contour of the skin,” he said. “We think some of the duration from Restylane is due to this new collagen production.”
WHAT THE RESULTS MEAN FOR YOUR SKIN
So let’s get down to what matters: how can this new information benefit you and help you take care of your skin?
If you’re struggling with signs of aging, skin damage, fine lines, or even deep wrinkles, it could mean that treatment with injectables containing HA are your best option. It may also mean that, as you have consecutive treatments every few months, your results may become more and more permanent.
There’s two main benefits associated with HA fillers: instant plumping action and boosting your own natural collagen production. Compared to other options that don’t boost collagen in the body, this equals more benefits for nearly the same amount of money. Combine this with the fact that patients who turn to dermal fillers often require fewer and fewer treatments and it may be a more affordable option, too.
Essentially, recent studies tell us that dermal fillers may be far more helpful than we originally thought. Sure, the initial plumping and volume-boosting action matters, but so does what happens after your injections, too. It’s a little bit like getting a two-for-one deal if your body responds in the right way.
ARE DERMAL FILLERS RIGHT FOR YOU?
Probably. In fact, most relatively healthy patients can use dermal fillers to regain a youthful appearance right up until around age 75. They’re safe, proven, and have a very low risk of side effects, even in patients with sensitive skin.
That said, only you and your medical provider can determine together if injectables are a good option for you. It’s best to schedule a consultation and explain your goals, as well as your curiosity about collagen-boosting effects, rather than just deciding on your own.
The most critical factor to remember is this: dermal fillers work best when injected by someone who has the skill and experience to use them properly. Don’t be afraid to ask for credentials and history when you book your appointment. Your skin will thank you for it!
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