Our skin is amazing. It can stretch and retract as we grow and gain or lose weight. It protects us from the elements. As we get older, however, it begins to change. It becomes less elastic, starting to sag and wrinkle. One of the reasons for this is that our skin begins to slow down the production of important components as we age, such as collagen. But what is collagen, and why is it so important for youthful skin?
What is Collagen?
Skin is made up of different proteins and acids, including collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid. Although all of these are important, collagen is a structural protein that gives the skin its firmness and youthful beauty. When we’re young, our collagen production is robust and our skin is elastic, bouncing back quickly after injury or minor weight fluctuations. Unfortunately, that doesn’t last forever–our natural collagen begins to decline as we get older.
Why Collagen Production Declines
So why do our collagen levels eventually drop? It’s all part of the natural aging process. This decline occurs at a different rate in each person, thanks to our genetics and lifestyle. It’s possible to keep your skin looking young for longer by avoiding habits like smoking and ensuring that you protect your skin from the harmful rays of the sun. However, everyone’s skin starts to lose its youthful firmness eventually.
Improving the Skin With Natural Collagen
Although many plastic surgeons used to offer collagen injections, this treatment is mostly a thing of the past. Modern methods now involve using hyaluronic acid in dermal fillers and encouraging the body to increase its own collagen production. These methods have proven to be more effective, safer, and last longer than collagen injections. Collagen levels increase when the skin is injured, allowing the body to repair the skin. By gently directing heat or light energy deep into the skin, we can “trick” the body into boosting its own collagen production. This is a process that is often known as “collagen remodeling”.
Some treatments, like ablative laser resurfacing, involve making controlled injury to the skin. This encourages the superficial skin cells to renew themselves and improve skin conditions. Most treatments for sagging skin, however, direct some or all of the energy beneath the top layers of skin. This leaves the upper layers of skin partially or fully intact while affecting the deeper tissues and accelerating collagen production in aging skin.
Treatments for Sagging Skin
So what can you do if your skin is starting to sag and lose elasticity? Skin treatments like the BBL Ultra Peel and other laser treatments can help to reverse deep wrinkling from collagen loss and skin aging by improving collagen production. This can create rejuvenation that lasts for months, without the need for synthetic fillers. In addition to tightening the skin and improving wrinkles, these types of treatments can also improve pigmentation issues, dull skin, and other imperfections caused by aging and sun exposure. They are great for patients with mild to moderate signs of aging. Fillers can also be used to replace lost volume and enhance patients’ results from other treatments.
Skin that has lost too much collagen might not be able to bounce back enough with minimally-invasive treatments alone. In these cases, surgical rejuvenation might be the best option. A plastic surgeon can help you decide on a custom treatment plan that suits your needs.
Restoring a Youthful Glow
If your skin has started to lose the youthful glow and firmness that collagen supplies, then your first step should be to consult with an expert. Plastic surgeons offer a wide range of options for non-invasive procedures and surgical solutions to sagging skin. Today, the emphasis is on creating a natural youthful glow by tailoring the treatment to the patient’s specific needs.
Dr. Edward Buckingham is a double board-certified facial plastic surgeon who is renowned for his talent in both surgical techniques and advanced laser treatments. His practice, Buckingham Center, emphasizes the use of minimally-invasive techniques and the latest technology to help patients achieve natural rejuvenation and long-lasting results. If you would like to arrange a consultation with Dr. Buckingham at his Austin, TX, office, call 512.401.2500 today and take your first steps toward a more youthful you.