So it may be easy to conclude that getting more collagen into our skin will lead to a dramatic improvement in the appearance and health of our skin. While there is some truth to this common belief, the reality is more complicated.
Types of Collagen
Collagen occurs in types and not just in the skin. Collagen is part of most body tissues including blood vessels and cartilage. Collagen is found in the majority of organs, not just the skin, and collagen is important to the repair of damaged tissues including the skin, it is collagen that helps wounds repair. Collagen is not isolated to our skin, it is also found in tendons, bones, skin and other tissues. The most abundant types of collagen in the skin are of a particular type that forms the matrix responsible for the skin’s mechanical properties – flexibility and elasticity.
- Type I Collagen – The richest collagen in the body. Found in tendons, bones, skin and other tissues. Particularly abundant in the scar tissue;
- Types II, IX, X, XI – Cartilage;
- Type III – Common in fast growing tissue, this collagen keeps us looking young;
- Type IV – Basal lamina (filtration membrane of capillaries);
- Type V, VI – Generally found alongside type I;
- Type VII – Epithelia (lining of GI tract, urinary tract, etc.);
- Type VIII – Lining of blood vessels;
- Type XII – Found alongside and interacts with types I and III;
The Chemistry of Collagen
Collagen is unlike most proteins, it is basically a fiber or, when fully mature, a mesh of fibers unlike other proteins in our body that are essentially compact molecular clumps. Collagen’s composition is also different; collagen is particularly rich in four amino acids: Glycine, proline, hydroxylysine and hydroxyproline.
Quantity and Quality
Whilst the quantity and quality of the collagen in our skin is a vital determinant in the appearance of our skin, it is also important that collagen be undamaged and properly deposited. Collagen freshly deposited by young, healthy “fibroblasts” has a coherent and orderly structure that enhances the desirable qualities of elasticity and flexibility of our skin. When collagen is damaged by UV rays, free radicals, impaired glucose metabolism, smoking or other factors, its structure becomes distorted, leading to poor skin texture, wrinkles and other imperfections.
At City laser Clinic, we use a Q-switch laser that can remodel and improve depleting collagen a great improvement over the many topical creams and MMP inhibitors that often achieve no discernible improve in aesthetic appearance. Contact City Laser Clinic on 02 9232 8090 to arrange a laser consultation to discuss a treatment plan that suits your needs.
Types of collagen and the aging process.
As we age the quantity and quality of collagen in our skin tends to decline. This decline can be accelerated by lifestyle choices including smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and sun exposure. But we also need to appreciate how the different types of collagen behave. In a child’s skin there is an abundance of “Young” collagen (type III), the type common in fast growing tissues.
The abundance of the “Young” collagen is partly responsible for the softness and suppleness of children’s skin. As our body growth slows, the skin content of “Young” collagen declines, while that of “Mature” (type I) collagen increases. For most of us, the “Mature” collagen continues to build up until about age 35, when our skin reaches peak mechanical strength. After that, “Young” collagen begins to decline as well, and we know that by the age of about 60, all types of collagen are significantly below that of our younger days.
Understanding collagen types is important because, different agents capable of stimulating collagen synthesis may affect different collagen types differently. That is one reason why some collagen boosters are more appropriate for the skin than others are. Most components of the skin, including collagen, are replaced in an ongoing process. New collagen is continually produced and recycled throughout life. In younger bodies, the creation of collagen is greater than the loss, but by about age of 40, the degradation of collagen increases.
Considering that collagen types I and III are known to predominate in our skin, the agents and laser treatments shown to stimulate the creation of these types of collagen are particularly promising.
Why does the body remove Collagen?
There are situations when flushing collagen from the body makes sense, such situations include when collagen is badly damaged such as by a burn or mechanical damage (cuts or abrasions) or when there is an infection and a passageway needs to be cleared for the immune cells. Nevertheless, as we age, collagen degradation tends to increase and contribute to weakening and wrinkling of our skin. As referred to previously, several external factors will also increase these losses, these external factors include: UV rays (Sun), smoking, chlorinated water, free radicals, inflammation, irritation, lack of exercise and others.
Minimizing these external factors, leading a healthy life is always a good idea but may not be sufficient to keep collagen degradation under control. A more advanced approach is to inhibit the enzymes called matrix metalloproteinases (MMP-s). These enzymes (particularly the one called collagenase) are chopping up collagen into small pieces which then get recycled. Considering that older skin does not respond to collagen synthesis boosters particularly well, inhibiting the degradation of collagen by MMP-s whether used alone or in conjunction with stimulating the development of new collagen by Q-switch laser may prove to be a superior methodology.
We know that some common skin care ingredients appear to inhibit MMP-s indirectly by inhibiting certain pathways of inflammation or suppressing the synthesis of MMP-s. Such agents include lipoic acid, and retinoids.
How do you know what is best for you?
While there are alternatives to Laser therapy to rejuvenate the skin and stimulate production of collagen, at City Laser Clinic we can assess your skin and identify the best course of action for you, to achieve improved skin health and appearance, so contact us on 02 9232 8090 to arrange a laser consultation to discuss a laser treatment plan that suits your needs.