Most of the leading new anti-ageing technologies in the form of lasers and creams claim that they “stimulate collagen production”. So what is collagen, and how does it really work? And what does it have to do with ageing?
Let’s take a closer look.
Collagen is a strong, insoluble, and fibrous protein that makes up one third of the protein in the human body. That makes it the most abundant protein available to us, and it is a flexible substance that holds the whole body together!
Your skin contains multiple layers. Just below the outer layer (epidermis) is the middle layer of the skin (dermis), where collagen helps form a fibrous network upon which new cells can grow. This layer has blood vessels, nerves, and hair follicles, but it’s mostly made up of collagen, which is required in the replacement and restoration of dead skin cells. Collagen is a key support structure in your skin, with its network of fibres that provides a framework for the growth of cells and blood vessels. Collagen also is found in cartilage, teeth, and bones. Some collagen also functions as a protective covering for delicate organs in the body such as the kidneys.
There are numerous different types of collagen (at least 16 types), but 80% to 90% of collagen in the body belongs to types I, II, and III. Type I collagen is stronger than steel, gram for gram.
Medical science has acknowledged the value of this natural protein, and surgeons now use an assortment of collagen filler to improve the contours of the skin, fill out depressions, and replenish volume in the face.
As we age, our production of collagen (starting in our 30s) naturally depletes, which in turn reduces the integrity of the skin, causing it to show visible signs of ageing such as sagging skin, lines, and wrinkles as well as the weakening of other cartilage-rich areas such as our joints.
Many products containing collagen, including creams and powders, claim to revitalize the skin. Collagen molecules are too big to be absorbed through the skin, so despite the marketing efforts of these companies, their products fail to deliver as they claim. Collagen applied to the skin has outstanding moisturising effects, but it does not strengthen the skin or directly increase the collagen concentration in the skin.
Collagen, like all proteins, is made up of amino acids and must be acquired through the diet.
Nutrients that may support collagen formation include:
Proline: found in egg whites, meat, cheese, soy, and cabbage
Anthocyanidins: found in blackberries, blueberries, cherries, and raspberries
Vitamin C: found in oranges, strawberries, peppers, and broccoli
Copper: can be found in shellfish, nuts, red meat, and some drinking water
Vitamin A: found in animal-derived foods and in plant foods as beta-carotene
Some of the known factors that can affect the quality of collagen within the skin are:
High sugar consumption: A diet high in sugar increases the rate of glycation, a process whereby the sugar in the blood attaches to proteins to form new molecules called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). AGEs damage adjacent proteins and can make collagen dry, brittle, and weak. This is something that can be easily avoided with a healthy diet that contains natural sugars and eliminates or limits any synthetics and pesticides in your food consumption.
Smoking: This habit is in many ways a big offender to our health. Many of the chemicals present in tobacco smoke damage both collagen and elastin in the skin. Nicotine also narrows the blood vessels in the outer layers of the skin, which reduces the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to the skin, compromising skin health and producing what is called the “smoker’s face” (coined in 1985 during a clinical study by Douglas Model).
Sunlight: Ultraviolet rays in sunlight cause collagen to break down at an increased rate, damaging collagen fibers and inducing the accumulation of abnormal elastin. Abnormal elastin leads to the production of an enzyme that can also break down collagen. This process can lead to the formation of solar scars.
Increasing Collagen Production with Laser Light Therapy
The growth of collagen, elastin, and melanin can all be stimulated through laser therapy, involving intense wavelengths of light and ultrasound.
Collagen levels deplete naturally over time, and there is no way to prevent this inevitable process of ageing. However, by understanding collagen and how it works, we may be able to protect and nourish our skin to keep it looking younger by using the advanced technology that is available to us.
Here at Dr. Cory Torgerson’s medical clinic, we offer Ultherapy (Ultrasound Therapy) and AFT (Advanced Fluorescence Technology).
The Ultherapy procedure stimulates collagen production by delivering focused ultrasound energy to the surface of the skin to deliver the right amount of ultrasound energy at the right depths and the right temperature. This energy triggers a natural response under the skin, jumpstarting the regenerative process that produces fresh, new collagen.
Check out our Ultherapy link to get all the latest information on this treatment: https://drtorgerson.com/non-surgical-procedures/ultherapy-toronto/
At Dr. Torgerson’s clinic, we also have many non-surgical procedures like the AFT Lasers (Advanced Fluorescence Technology), the next generation of Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) laser treatment technology, which improves the texture, tone, and appearance of skin with minimal downtime. This laser treatment is specifically designed to dramatically reduce the appearance of sun damage, red spots, blemishes, rosacea, broken capillaries (including spider veins), acne scarring, and age spots (brown spots).
To read more about how AFT lasers works, check out this link on our website:
To learn about Ultherapy and AFT lasers and their benefits, watch our YouTube videos, where we discuss these simple, yet effective treatments to combat the signs of ageing: