The Famous Argument on Collagen Synthesis
3 December 2019 onur
All those trivial, useless rejuvenation and beautification products/services available on the market have one thing in common: the claim that they act by allegedly “boosting collagen synthesis“.
“Device X has just been launched. You just take 6 sessions, and then your skin is tight and there is no need for surgery. Brilliant!”
“But how is that possible? How does it make such an effect?”
“Oh, my dear, it has been shown in scientific studies that ‘it boosts collagen synthesis’.
They say cream/peeling/mesotherapy Y is very effective and boosts collagen synthesis in the skin.
In Technique Z, they lay 100 surgical threads under the skin, and as they are absorbed, they will boost collagen synthesis over time, and everything will be awesome!”
Collagen is one of the basic building blocks in the body. It looks like the 3×2 rectangular piece that is available in all LEGO sets. It is commonly found in all organs as it is a basic building material that you can find in skin, bone, cartilage, brain, heart and intestines – almost everywhere in the body. It is such an essential building material that the body has to regenerate this protein at the healing site as all tissues heal.
Within the original structure of the body, these LEGO pieces exist within a certain organization. Organization is way more important than quantity. Think of tissue architecture as a castle made of LEGO pieces. Once the body is injured, that castle will never be the same as the original. The body will of course repair the tissue, but there will always be a deficiency, a defect or a deformity.
During the healing process, the body first piles 1000 units of 3×2 rectangular LEGO pieces on the carpet in the living room, then uses them to functionally repair the original structure and finally removes the excess LEGO pieces.
The tissue thickness of the skin is greater at younger ages. Inside that thickness is more cells, more vessels, more protein (collagen, elastin, glycosaminoglycans and many others), more fat and more water. We’ve known this for a hundred years. All these components decrease during the aging process. The reduction of these components is not the cause but the result of aging. Externally administering cells and proteins to the skin does not rejuvenate the skin, nor does it reverse the aging process.
Therefore, increasing the amount of collagen in the skin or subcutaneous tissues per se does not mean the rejuvenation of the skin.
I would like to explain the situation with a very clear example for those who are not scientifically apt.
Imagine a 10-year-old girl whose face has been entirely burned.
There is tremendous damage to the entire facial skin and subcutaneous tissues. In order to repair this damage, the body sends repair cells called fibroblasts to the injury site. Fibroblasts begin to produce collagen and other connective tissue proteins.
They produce, produce and produce.
Non-stop, in a frenzy, for at least 3 months…
The result is the typically thick, hard, bulging, red burn marks that we see on the face of burn patients.
If you look at the blistered burn marks under the microscope, you will see that they are abound in collagen. There is more collagen than you can imagine, but the picture is far from a young and beautiful skin structure.
In burn patients, these excess collagen levels begin to decrease from the third month. After the third month, the body begins to organize this collagen, which it has piled on the injury site, and turns it into a structurally more stable and stronger layer. This process takes at least 1 or 2 years. Over the following decades, the collagen that accumulates in the tissue gradually decreases, resulting in a tissue architecture that never resembles the original but maintains its vitality.
All cosmetic procedures that cause damage to the skin and subcutaneous tissue (even energy devices, chemicals, foreign bodies, sun rays) trigger a healing process, and collagen synthesis increases as a part of this healing process. When the healing is over, the collagen levels return to normal and even fall below the pre-damage level. If they do not decrease, pathological healing tissues such as hypertrophic scars, keloids and granuloma formation occur.
The body covers all foreign substances placed in or under the skin with a capsule. The key building block in this capsule is collagen – again. It is an extremely romantic approach to look at the increase in collagen that occurs as a result of the body’s defense response to these foreign substances and think that the skin is getting younger.
There is a lot of “pseudoscience”, that is, “misleading science” on this matter. There are numerous studies which administer a substance under the skin, check it under a microscope on month 3 and scientifically show that the skin is thicker, better vascularized and more voluminous, and that the amount of collagen in the skin has increased. Therefore, while launching a product on the market, it is quite easy to say, “It has been shown in scientific studies that it boosts collagen synthesis.”
Based on that, it is claimed that the application brings along a tissue structure similar to that in youth.
This is wrong.
However, almost none of these studies consider it necessary to re-examine whether those 1000 LEGO pieces on the carpet have gained a functional structure or what happens in the same area 1 to 5 years later.
When you hear the phrase ‘collagen boost’, it would be useful to think about whether they are using such terminology that you do not know to try and convince you of or trick you into something.
Otherwise, you cannot complain, saying “I spent a ton of money on that application. I did not have any benefits, but they said it boosted collagen synthesis.”
Keep your collagen to yourself.
Take good care… of yourself and your beauty.