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What is collagen?

We all know that collagen is something we want more of – as if it’s some magical elixir of youth! But what exactly is collagen, why is it important for our skin and how can you get more of it?

 

Definition of collagen

Collagen the most abundant protein in our bodies and it is a critical part of our connective tissue – the tissue which holds cells together. Collagen fibres make up most of the connective tissue in our bodies, sometimes partnered with elastin fibres (for example in the skin).

The role of collagen is to provide strength and structure in our tissue, and a certain amount of elasticity; basically holding it all together. It’s particularly common in parts of the body where strength is important, such as the bones and skin. Gram for gram it’s stronger than steel.

Collagen is made up of molecules arranged in a regular pattern, in parallel to each other and attached together at various points. The molecules make up a collagen fibril and a number of fibrils grouped together make a collagen fibre. Collagen fibres are white.

When you stretch out the collagen molecules they quickly straighten out, so they don’t stretch very far.

Why collagen matters

We continue to produce collagen throughout our lives however the production levels decline as we age (particularly over the age of 60). In addition, smoking and exposure to the sun’s UV rays can also reduce collagen in our skin.

Collagen also plays a role in replacing dead skin cells, so it’s important for wound healing and skin regeneration.

Is collagen different to elastin?

Collagen makes up the bulk of the connective tissue in our bodies. It is less stretchy than elastin, therefore in parts of the body where great elasticity is important (for example in the skin) collagen and elastin work together.

The increased stretchiness of elastin comes from the fact that its fibres are organised irregularly, therefore it takes longer to straighten them out and as a result a greater amount of extension is possible.

More about elastin.

How to stimulate collagen production

Diet

A balanced and nutritious diet will support the body in producing collagen – ensuring that it has all the nutrients it needs. Avoid too much sugar, as this can increase the rate of glycation, which damages proteins in the body and can weaken collagen.

Smoking

Quit smoking – it damages collagen and the nicotine narrows blood vessels in the skin, starving it of oxygen and nutrients.

Avoid UV rays

Always use a good UV protection sunscreen because the sun’s rays cause collagen to break down more quickly.

Lotions and potions

There are various collagen lotions available. We’re not aware of any independent evidence that these work – but it’s likely that the collagen molecules are too large to be absorbed through the skin. So take any spectacular claims with a pinch of salt!

The evidence for the efficacy of collagen supplements or drinks is also quite shaky, although there is a little less scepticism from experts about this method of boosting your collagen levels.

Find your ideal collagen-boosting treatment

Laser facial rejuvenation

This treatment stimulates the growth of both collagen and elastin through heating deep layers of skin in the targeted areas.

More about laser facial rejuvenation.

Mesotherapy and fractional mesotherapy

Both these treatments pump nutrients into the skin, including amino acids, which are the building blocks of collagen. It also introduces growth factors, stem cells and peptides which trigger an enhanced stimulation of collagen, plus they repair and reinforce elastin.

The fractional part of mesotherapy relies on microchanneling by needling. This creates a wound healing response which rapidly stimulates good collagen growth.

More about mesotherapy and fractional mesotherapy.

Sculptra

This injectable treatment is specifically designed to replenish your natural collagen levels. Results of Sculptra are subject to the individual’s ability to produce collagen. Age, severity of photo damage and the type of collagen being produced by the individual will all have an impact on the results.

More about Sculptra.

Venus Freeze and Venus Viva

Combining magnetic pulses and radio frequency technologies, our Venus treatments create a thermal effect in the skin which increases collagen production. This controlled thermal effect triggers a contraction of collagen to tighten the skin. The stimulation boosts the cells that make produce collagen and elastin over a series of weeks.

More about Venus Freeze and Venus Viva.

CACI

As well as toning facial muscles to achieve an ‘uplift’, the microcurrents applied in a CACI treatment also stimulate collagen development. The gentle bioelectric current stimulates the delicate growth and repair processes in the skin. This enhances collagen and elastin production by 200% with a series of regular treatments.

More about CACI.

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