Lots of my patients are interested in looking younger—I guess that goes without saying, right? What they really want is an increase in collagen, the protein that is the building block of young skin. Everyone has collagen in their system—it’s a protein that’s part of your bones, your tendons and your skin. It keeps things strong and elastic. Unfortunately, as we grow older, the levels of collagen in our bodies decrease. This breakdown of collagen is what gives us wrinkles and sagging skin. It breaks down even faster in areas of high use, like around the mouth and the eyes, since we blink about 23,000 times a day and smile as often as possible! Even worse, the breakdown of collagen is like a domino effect—the lower the collagen, the more enzymes are released to tell the body to break down collagen. Vicious circle, isn’t it? Isn’t there something we can do? You bet there is. Here are some ways we can help you build up more collagen for a more youthful face!
I recently read a study performed by the University of Michigan Department of Dermatology. The researchers reviewed several other studies that show three specific treatments that can prevent or delay some of this collagen breakdown.
#1: CO2 laser resurfacing:
CO2 resurfacing has been called the “gold standard” for laser resurfacing for many years. A CO2 laser treatment literally burns away old skin to push the collagen to reproduce. Unfortunately, it takes 3-4 weeks to recover from a deep CO2 resurfacing, as your face is weepy, scabby, and honestly, a real mess. Nobody would go out in public after a CO2 treatment.
I prefer to use Laser Genesis. Our aesthetician, Tasha, uses it here in our practice because it gives a push to collagen growth without leaving you looking bad for several weeks. The heat generated reduces redness in dilated capillaries, stimulates collagen regrowth by heating up the dermis. Tasha’s patients are surprised that there’s no discomfort involved and in fact, it’s pretty relaxing. You don’t even need topical or cream anesthetic because it’s not painful in the least. After your treatment, you just go back to your normal activities. Every patient’s needs vary but most of our patients need 4-6 treatments for maximum results. True, with a CO2 laser treatment you need only one, but again, the fall-out of CO2 lasering is the nasty looking skin that persists for 3-4 weeks while you’re healing. The Laser Genesis method divides that recovery into smaller laser treatments so you get essentially the same results without the recovery time.
#2: Hyaluronic Acid Fillers
The researched proved that hyaluronic acid filler, such as Restylane, Sculptra, Juvederm and Radiesse, encourage new collagen growth because the cross-linked hyaluronic acid content helps the fibroblasts to stretch just like they did when you were younger. That’s why, over time, if you stick to a consistent schedule of fillers such as those mentioned above, you’ll notice the wrinkles decreasing. It’s because the skin is building its own collagen.
#3: Vitamin A
Retinol and retinoid treatments (ie, Retin-A) are wonderful to rebuild collagen, smooth wrinkles and eliminate roughness. I write prescriptions for Retin-A for those patients who will benefit from its application. It’s the only topical agent proven to rebuild collagen, is affordable and easy to use.
Collagen can be stimulated as well through microdermabrasion, exercise, sun avoidance (and use of a good sunscreen when you are in the sun). Come in to discuss the options with us here at the California Institute of Cosmetic and Reconstructive Surgery. We do more than plastic surgery—we have dozens of non-surgical treatments to help you maintain a youthful, healthy life.
To your health & beauty,
Vip Dev, MD