How to Build Collagen To "Save Face"

How to build collagen really involves 2 strategies:

1. Defense: Preventing further collagen loss, collagen preservation
2. Offense: Stimulating your skin to build fresh collagen

Tackle this as a 2 pronge approach and you'll be well ahead of the game!

Build Collagen: Defensive Strategies

Despite all the great skin care products on the market from antioxidants to fancy devices, the single best anti aging strategy is sun protection!

"But I always use an SPF 15 lotion", you say. Nope, not good enough.

The SPF number is merely a guideline for timed sun exposure to UVB rays only, NOT UVA. UVB rays are what cause you to get a sunburn, however...
UVA rays make up 95% of the ultraviolet light that reaches the earth. UVA rays are the ones the weaken collagen fibers over time.

Why does this happen? UVA rays cause elastin in your tissues to produce an abnormally high amount of metalloproteinases. These are enzymes that break up collagen and leads to collagen degradation. So although this may not build collagen you certainly don't want to lose what you have!

Our recommendation: SPF 30 in a Broad-Spectum formulation. Only if the sunscreen is listed as Broad Spectrum can you be assured that it protects you both from UVB and the photoaging UVA rays. Apply daily, 365 days a year!

SMOKING: no smoking If you're a frequent reader of we know you're health conscious and wouldn't dream of smoking!

However, we also know the reality of addictive chemicals found in cigarettes. Well, if you still need more information to kick the habit read on!

When you smoke you are diminishing the number of available nutrients to your skin needed for cellular repair and synthesis. The large number of toxins entering the bloodstream creates what has been coined "Smoker's Face" i.e. lines and wrinkles such as Crow's Feet, sunken cheeks, leathery appearance, etc., is a result of lack of oxygen to the skin as nicotine constricts blood vessels.

The enzyme Matrix Metalloproteinase-1 (MMP-1) is needed to break down old, fibrous collagen as well as old skin and elastin. MMP-1 is needed to first break down the fibers of old collagen/elastin before it can build collagen. However, in smokers, the amount of MMP-1 is increased so much that it actually creates a shortage of collagen! Ultimately, when you don't have enough collagen for renewal, your skin will gradually lose collagen and elascticity. The end result is a premature aged face.
(Lahmann, C., J. Bergemann et al., 'Matrix Metalloproteinase-1 and Skin Aging in Smokers', The Lancet, 2001. 24:935-936.)

In a study conducted at the Nagoya City Univeristy Medical School, cigarette smoke was pumped onto dishes of human fibroblasts, the cells that build collagen. The results demonstrated a 40% drop in collagen after just one day due to the cells producing more MMP-1.

Build Collagen: Offensive Strategies

CHEMICAL PEELS: tca peel A chemical peel to build collagen should not be confused with superficial peels, or what may be referred to as "Lunch Time" peels.

Superficial peels of either alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) such as glycolic acid, or beta hydroxy acid (BHA) such as salicylic acid, may be done at spas or with an aesthetician and only affect the epidermal layer.

Fibroblasts, the cells which build collagen, however, are found deeper in the dermal layer. For a peel to build collagen it must be at least a medium-depth peel and performed in a medically supervised practice.

A frequently used chemical for a medium-depth peel is TCA (tricholoacetic acid) of 25% concentration. A skin patch test may be done behind your ear to determine if your solution should be of a higher or lower percentage based on your tolerance.

TCA 25% may also be purchased online for home use. If you decide to go that routine, please follow the instructions precisely. It would be advisable to only apply one layer and leave the solution on only for 30 seconds- 1 minute during your first session.
For your own safety only use a self-neutralizing product to provide a larger safety margin.

LASERS: fraxel Fractionated CO2 lasers or Fraxel re:pair is the only CO2 laser on the market that delivers the efficacy of conventional bulk ablative lasers, without the prolonged downtime and complications.
A single session may be all you need for superb results.

The effects are two fold:
The laser is able to penetrate to the dermal layer where collagen is formed AND the unique technology spares much of the surrounding healthy tissue in the dermis. The result is instant tissue shrinkage and skin tightening.

Many physicians perfer to use Fraxel laser around the eye area rather than high concentrations of chemical acid peels. It allows them to work closer around the eye without worrying about lines of demarcation.
Please note: this procedure is fairly painful and will be requiring pain relievers.

Expect 7-10 days of downtime.

!!CAUTION!! It's logical to think that thin, fair caucasian skin is fragile and less resilient to laser or acid peels than strong, thick, dark skin, but the opposite is true. Darker skins are more sensitive and vulnerable by far.

Medium-depth peels are the maximum-depth peels that can be performed on individuals of Arab, African, Hispanic, Indian, and Native American descent. If you have dark skin, you need to be extremely careful! You should never go to anyone except an experienced medical doctor for skin peels or laser treatments. Un-medically trained hands can leave permanent dark or light blotches on your skin.
A peel that was administered too deep can leave dark skin with a loss of pigment, and once pigment is lost, it can never be replaced!

Deep peels: These are an extreme procedure and not for the faint hearted. Your down time will be significant: plan on 2-3 weeks during which you may be home bound because your appearance will even frighten yourself! You will suffer severe redness and your skin will slough off leaving you with oozing tissue. Redness may persist for 6 months and you will not be able to ever tan again.
Results, however, are excellent and can take a good 15 years off of your complexion!

MICRODERMABRASION: microdermabrasion Just like with chemical peels, microdermabrasions ability to build collagen will depend on its depth.

Collagen production is not achieved with all types of procedures. For instance, a recent study showed that a medium-grit tool did not result in collagen formation and neither did aluminum oxide microdermabrasions. Good results have been noted with course-grit diamond tip wands.
You may have a 24-48 hour "down" time as your skin rejuvenates itself.

TOPICAL CREAMS: obagi tretinoin Topical Tretinoin, which is a derivative of vitamin A and sold under brand names of Retin-A and Renova, causes an increase in cell turnover by allowing skin cells to divide/grow and die more rapidly.

Although it was origianlly intended to treat acne, tretinoin has shown great results for fine wrinkles and hyperpigmentation. You may notice the skin looking more dry and wrinkles more pronounced for the first 3 weeks, but by week 4 things improve so stay consistent! Nobody said to build collagen would happen overnight!

Tretinoin comes in strength ranging from a 0.01% gel to a 0.1% cream. If you have never used tretinoin before you may want to try no higher than the 0.25% to avoid excessive irritation.

MICRONEEDLING: microneedling Also known as skin rolling or collagen induction therapy (CIT). This little hand held wand with tiny micro needles (stainless steel) may be used for in home use and at a reasonable price. Average cost per wand is $30-$70.

The microneedles stimulate collagen growth which improves the appearance of scars, fine lines, wrinkles, stretch marks, and acne scars. The small needles prick into the skin to allow for better absorption of serums and increase their effectiveness.

The rollers come in various needle lengths: 0.25mm and 0.5mm for home use; 1.0mm, 1.5mm, and 2.0mm for professional use.
To achieve the best collagen stimulation you need the 1.0mm needle length to reach the dermal layer, however, because this is painful it is not suitable for home use. For this reason it may be advised to have microneedling done in a professional setting where proper local anesthesia can be administered.

If you are interested in DIY microneedling and are new to it or have sensitive skin use the 0.25mm first along with a topical skin numbing cream. We suggest that you wash off the numbing cream after 30 minutes and then apply your favorite serum. Then roll the microneedles across your skin to push the serum deeper into your skin tissue.
After all, the outer skin layer accounts for 80% of the resistance to penetration of serums.
After a few weeks you may see improved results of your regular skin care products especially your vitamin C serum!

Build Collagen: Learn More About Serums

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