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Collagen: What it is, Why You Need it, How to Get it

The collagen craze is showing no signs of slowing down. It has become a trendy wellness item that has taken the form of tablets, powders, and creams that promise to give you shiny hair, plump skin, and strong bones. While more research is needed to prove their efficacy, there is no doubt women everywhere have somehow incorporated collagen into their skincare regimen. What is collagen exactly? And why is it the key to preserving youthful, wrinkle-free skin?

Dr. Kulbersh consulting with a patient about the importance of collagen for youthful skin in CharlotteAt Carolina Facial Plastics in Charlotte, NC, I understand how beauty, literally, is skin deep and how renewing it from the inside out is the best way to rejuvenate the skin. I can help you achieve your aesthetic goals through collagen stimulation, turning back the clock on aging while enhancing your unique attractiveness. As a double board-certified facial plastic surgeon, I and my team of skin experts, Heather Bryant PA-C, Amanda Piligian PA-C, Courtney Whitley FNP-C, and Terri Edson medical aesthetician, focus 100% on cosmetic treatments for the face. We apply a wealth of knowledge to every surgical or non-surgical procedure we perform at our medical spa, helping you achieve beautiful and natural-looking results.

Collagen: The Key to a Youthful Appearance

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body. It gives the body its structure, like a scaffold providing the framework and support for our bones, muscles, and tendons. It’s also like the “glue” that holds everything together –the word collagen originated from the Greek word “kólla,” which means glue. It makes up 75-80% of your skin, and this means collagen plays a critical role in keeping your body’s largest organ strong and healthy. 

When you’re young, your body naturally produces collagen, providing the following skin benefits:

  • Boosts moisture
  • Enhances elasticity and an even skin tone
  • Promotes skin tightness
  • Helps repair and renew skin cells
  • Maintains plumpness

What Aging does to Collagen 

While we are born with an abundant collagen supply in our skin, its natural production begins to slow down in our 20s and 30s. You can expect collagen levels in the skin to decrease by 1-2% every year. And while aging is a natural process, it is also possible to accelerate it with UV exposure, pollution, poor diet, smoking, and other unhealthy lifestyle habits.

The Effects of Collagen Depletion

When your body produces less collagen, your skin’s structural foundation begins to diminish, weakening the skin’s inner structure and leading to wrinkle formation and skin laxity. Unfortunately, collagen breakdown occurs at a faster rate than its production. 

The following are signs of collagen loss in the skin:

  • Fine lines and wrinkles – Since collagen loss leads to thinning of the skin, wrinkles and fine lines will begin to appear. 
  • Loss of natural fullness – Your face’s natural contours will change, with cheeks becoming flatter and the under-eye area appearing to look more hollow.
  • Loose or sagging skin – Since collagen is responsible for skin elasticity, lack of its supply will lead to losing skin firmness, resulting in a sagging effect around the cheeks and jawline.

The Problem with Collagen Supplements

While it only makes sense to help replenish our body’s collagen, it’s not as simple as popping a pill to supplement its loss. Collagen supplements are heavily marketed as easy and convenient ways to diminish wrinkles, lift sagging skin, and preserve youthfulness. But while there may be studies that support claims that collagen supplements can be beneficial to our skin and overall health, research is still very limited. 

Collagen supplements available in the market today are also not highly regulated. The FDA categorizes collagen supplements as a food and not a drug. This means they do not verify any claims made regarding these items. That means these pills may contain other ingredients such as animal bones and fish scales, which may contain high doses of heavy metals. These ingredients may cause side effects, including nausea, heartburn, skin reactions, and diarrhea.

Consumed collagen, whether in pill or powder form, will be broken down and absorbed by your bloodstream which travels throughout the body. Therefore, collagen taken in this manner does not target the areas that need collagen most, including your skin. 

Collagen Restored: What are your treatment options?

A better alternative to ingesting collagen is to help the body naturally produce its own supply. There is a wide variety of cosmetic treatments that are clinically proven to boost collagen production. Collagen stimulating treatments work by either creating a controlled wound in the skin or heating the dermal layers to trigger the body’s natural regenerative process. As the body heals itself, it produces fresh collagen that renews the skin from within, resulting in a healthier and younger-looking appearance. Our Charlotte, NC medical spa offers the following cosmetic procedures to help boost collagen production:

Lasers –  Laser skin resurfacing is one of the best treatments for overall skin health. Not only can it treat specific skin concerns such as wrinkles, acne, and pigmentation, but it also stimulates collagen production. It works by destroying outer layers of the skin (epidermis) while heating the underlying skin (dermis), triggering the body’s natural healing process. As the body produces more collagen, healthier skin cells develop, resulting in skin that looks smoother and tighter.

before and after results from a collagen restoring treatment in Charlotte, NCMicroneedling with Radiofrequency Energy – Profound RF by Candela and VirtueRF by Cartessa combine the healing powers of microneedling with the stimulation of radiofrequency (RF) energy to turn back the clock on your appearance. Microneedling creates micro-injuries in the skin using an instrument containing dozens of very fine, short needles. These needles also deliver RF energy to heat the underlying dermal tissue. In effect, your skin produces almost six times the normal amount of elastin and twice the amount of collagen in a single treatment.

Chemical Peels– These anti-aging treatments typically use hydroxy acids (like glycolic acid) to exfoliate the skin and promote skin cell turnover, which in turn stimulates collagen production. As the body produces new healthy skin cells, your face will look healthier and more rejuvenated. 

Schedule A Collagen-Boosting Treatment at Our Medical Spa Today

If you’re ready to take matters into your own hands and take a more proactive approach to reverse the signs of aging, you must choose the right treatments and preventive therapies. The first step is a consultation at Carolina Facial Plastics in Charlotte, NC. Call us or book an appointment online. My staff and I look forward to meeting you.

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