Collagen isn’t just a trendy buzzword. While collagen is often discussed in terms of skin supplements or facial creams, the truth is that it’s a natural component of your skin. Unfortunately, collagen production decreases as you age, which can lead to drier, duller, and more wrinkle-prone skin.
But how do you know if your collagen production has decreased? Alfred Sofer, MD utilizes the Visia® skin analysis system to provide a wealth of information about the health of your skin 一 and that includes information about its smoothness and the potential decrease in collagen production.
Understanding the anatomy of your skin can help you understand how your skin changes and what you can expect to learn about your own collagen in a skin analysis.
Anatomy of your skin
Your skin is your largest organ, and it’s made of three main layers: epidermis (the part you see), dermis (the middle layer), and hypodermis (fat layer). Your epidermis acts as a protective barrier and consists of three types of cells, including squamous cells, basal cells, and melanocytes.
Both collagen and elastin reside in the dermis, and the dermis is about 90% of your skin’s thickness. The dermis layer also contains blood vessels, sebaceous glands, nerves, fibroblasts, sweat glands, lymph vessels, and hair follicles. All of this is held together by collagen, which is actually derived from the Greek word for “glue,” kolla. Some collagen types can also be found in your hypodermis, which is a layer of fat cells designed to help regulate body temperature and cushion your body.
Collagen and elastin are both types of protein that work together to keep your skin smooth, strong, and supple.
There are 16 types of collagen, and each type serves its own purpose. Type I provides structure for your skin, acting as a scaffold that supports the rest of your skin and keeps it firm. When collagen decreases, the scaffolding weakens, leading to sagging skin as well as textural changes.
Elastin 一 which is 1,000 times more flexible than collagen 一 enables your skin to “bounce back.” Elastin’s purpose is to help your skin stay resilient, and when elastin breaks down, your skin starts to sag.
What causes collagen and elastin fibers to break down?
Both collagen and elastin fibers break down due to age-related changes, but they can also diminish as a result of:
- Excessive UV exposure (from tanning beds and the sun)
- Chronic illness
- Chronic stress
Although you can’t stop time from moving forward, you can take steps to reduce the premature breakdown of collagen and elastin fibers. Below are a few tips to keep your skin healthy:
- Apply sunscreen daily
- Avoid artificial tanning beds
- Maintain a good skin care routine
- Drink enough water each day
- Eat foods rich in skin-friendly nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, and vitamin A
Even with the best skin care routine and a healthy diet, it’s not uncommon to struggle with collagen and elastin depletion. In the next section, we’ll look at treatments that support collagen and elastin treatment.
Restoring collagen and elastin
Dr. Sofer performs facial rejuvenation techniques that stimulate both collagen and elastin production. Microneedling, for example, stimulates collagen production by creating micro-wounds. The tiny perforations created by the microneedling needles trick your body into thinking it’s wounded. This triggers a healing response, which includes the production of collagen and elastin.
Other treatments that can restore collagen and elastin include:
Before committing to one treatment, Dr. Sofer reviews your Visia skin analysis and discusses your overall aesthetic goals. In addition to increasing collagen, your other goals 一 such as reducing the signs of sun damage or improving the texture of your skin 一 play a role in determining which treatment is right for you.