Sagging or wrinkling skin is a major telltale sign of aging. Some may wonder why their skin no longer looks as awesome as before. Significant damage to the skin occurs over time and we are all aware of that.
These days we hear people talk about skin rejuvenation. There are diverse treatments and products available for those who may be interested in this.
What is the goal of skin rejuvenation? What are the ways by which you can achieve it? And what roles do collagen and elastin play in the entire process? Come with us as we address these questions and more.
What is Skin Rejuvenation?
You may think of skin rejuvenation, simply, as an attempt to reverse the effects of aging on the skin. It is a process of getting rid of wrinkles and other skin imperfections that mainly suggest older age. It practically covers everything you do to make your skin look younger.
Skin rejuvenation is not something people only took an interest in just recently. People have been doing one thing or another to promote younger-looking skin since ancient times. It’s just that there’s been a significant advancement in how people now go about it.
Modern skin rejuvenation methods are more effective. They are also thought to be safer than the crude techniques some people used in the past.
Today, there are broadly two types of skin rejuvenation treatments, namely: invasive and non-invasive approaches. Invasive treatments tend to be more effective, but they also come with higher risks.
Examples of invasive skin rejuvenation techniques include laser resurfacing, chemical peels, and thread vein removal.
The most popular non-invasive method for skin rejuvenation is arguably that involving the use of skincare products. Red light therapy and microdermabrasion fall under this classification as well.
Role of Collagen in Rejuvenation
The focus of most anti-aging skin treatments is on increasing the production of collagen. You most certainly have seen one product/treatment or another promising to promote a significant increase in your collagen level. Practically all skin rejuvenation techniques have this as the main goal.
Why so much emphasis on collagen? You may wonder.
Collagen is a very important protein in the body, and it is believed to account for up to 35 percent of the protein content.
Collagen is the principal structural protein of the connective tissues. It is present in the dermis layer of your skin, providing support and promoting elasticity. It is also believed to help in replacing dead cells in your skin.
You can not only find it in your skin, but also in your muscles, bones, blood vessels, and tendons, among others.
There are numerous types of collagen in the body. Types 1-5 are the most important, though, accounting for more than 90 percent of the protein. The most abundant, type 1, is what matters most for skin appearance.
The amount of collagen in the body, however, falls as people get older. This is why they develop wrinkles and experience skin sagging. And it is the reason many skin rejuvenation treatments focus on increasing the amount of the protein.
Let’s take micro-needling as an example. This treatment involves the use of numerous tiny needles to make very tiny or invisible holes in the skin. As part of the healing response, there is increased collagen production, which explains why this treatment is also known as collagen induction therapy.
Another approach, laser resurfacing, involves the use of pulsating laser beams to make tiny holes in the skin. The main goal is to improve the natural production of collagen.
How about Elastin?
While the focus is mainly on collagen, elastin is another key component of the skin.
Elastin is made up of protein molecules with coiled, loosely-linked structures. It is mostly present in the middle layer of the skin known as the dermis. This is the main reason for the elasticity of your skin, enabling it to stretch and recoil.
These proteins lack carbohydrate residues – this explains their intrinsic elasticity. The building block, a protein known as tropoelastin, is believed to be capable of stretching up to 8 times its molecular length and then recoil.
Fibroblasts and smooth muscle cells play crucial roles in the production of elastin, the type sometimes called amorphous elastin.
Elastin fibers under your skin comprise amorphous elastin and elastic microfibril. The latter refers to many types of proteins, including fibrillin, fibulin, and microfibrillar-linked glycoproteins.
Like collagen, you can find elastin in many other tissues of the body, apart from the skin. It is even argued to serve more important functions in some other parts. For example, it helps to regulate blood pressure.
Sadly, though, there is a problem with elastin as people get older. There is usually a decline with age. This can start at a very young age, making you rely on the ones produced in earlier years.
While elastin has a very impressive long half-life estimated at about 74, it may not be able to repair efficiently as it becomes damaged with the passing of the years. This causes your skin to lose much of its elasticity over time.
Ways to Rejuvenate Elastin
It is definitely great to know that damage to elastin is not something you can do nothing about. There are means by which you can boost it too.
We discuss some of the options you have for rejuvenating elastin and your skin below.
These are derivatives of vitamin A. Retinoids rank among topical anti-aging skin treatments with most studies on them. They are available as high-strength, prescription products, such as Retin A.
People talk more about retinoids for increasing the production of collagen, but it can help with elastin as well.
Red LED light therapy
Findings show that this treatment, which involves the use of devices emitting red and infrared rays, can increase the amount of both elastin and collagen.
The LED light helps to get rid of water molecules in a layer that appears on the protein. This assists in restoring its function and reducing the appearance of wrinkles.
It is believed that deep microneedling may be beneficial for rejuvenating elastin as well. This is similar to micro-needling that involves the use of very tiny needles to make holes in the skin.
The treatment stimulates your body’s natural healing process along with cell turnover. While it is commonly used for increasing collagen production, it may also boost elastin synthesis.
MMP refers to matrix metalloproteinase. This is an enzyme that breaks down the skin matrix, comprising collagen and elastin. The degradation isn’t much of an issue in younger people – it is actually beneficial. In this case, it enables rejuvenation of the skin matrix.
But little or no new matrix is synthesized in older people. This means MMPs essentially destroy the framework that holds your skin together as an adult. The result is damage or malformation.
There are many types of these enzymes. Agents that can help to check their potentially harmful activity in people are called MMP inhibitors.
But there appears to be no drug available to inhibit these enzymes with a view to promoting younger looks. But some herbal extracts, such as those from Butcher’s broom, have been found to be helpful in inhibiting the elastase that breaks down elastin. Skincare products with anti-inflammatory ingredients can also help.
It is believed that anti-inflammatory cytokines can be beneficial as well in deactivating the MMPs.
Elastin comprises protein molecules, and amino acids are the building blocks for protein. Glycine, proline, and valine are among those you will find in these skin components.
It follows then that products containing amino acids, including the ones mentioned, can help to boost elastin. There are creams and other topical solutions that may fit the bill on the market.
These are not new in the anti-aging community. Peptides have been around for some time. They are particularly known to be potentially useful for improving collagen production.
Formulations have improved over the years. Peptides are now more stable and produce effects similar to those of Botox injections.
Research shows that copper peptides help with the elimination of damaged collagen and elastin.
A newer peptide known as tetrapeptide-17 was shown to improve the elasticity of the skin. This may have to do with the effect on elastin.
Tips for Promoting Young Looking Skin Naturally
The most important decision you probably can make to help ensure you maintain a youthful appearance for longer is to be proactive. There are certain things you should be doing or give special attention to in order to prevent or slow skin aging. Below are some tips to work with.
Eat the right foods
It is definitely not impossible that you have heard before now that diet plays a crucial role in enhancing the look and feel of your skin. It is a common piece of advice.
Knowing what to eat can make a world of difference.
You should ensure that you consume antioxidant-rich foods, especially fresh fruits and leafy, green vegetables. These can help to deal with unstable molecules known as free radicals, which destroy skin components.
Antioxidants are so beneficial that they even help when applied on the skin topically to protect and rejuvenate the skin. There is research showing this method to actually work.
Fruits and veggies such as spinach, kale, carrots, sweet potatoes, and blueberries do more than fight free radicals. They also help in improving the amount of collagen in the body.
Do regular exercise
Many people now know that regular exercise offers so much to health and wellbeing. The effect this can have on your skin is another reason to take it more seriously.
Exercise supports heart health and promotes efficient blood circulation. It helps to ensure that nutrients and oxygen reach every part of the body, including the skin. This makes you glow and look healthy.
Ensure adequate vitamin C intake
It is helpful to make sure you are not lacking in vitamin C. This is known for the awesome effect it produces in increasing the body’s production of collagen. It plays a role in the process by which the important constituent of the skin matrix is formed.
Hydroxyproline and hydroxylysine are two important amino acids in collagen fibers, playing key roles in stability and strength. They are formed through enzyme-catalyzed oxidations of the lysine and proline amino acid side chains. And vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is an essential co-factor for the enzymatic reactions.
So, if you haven’t been taking enough foods with this vitamin, you should start now. Fruits, most notably citrus fruits, and green leafy vegetables are very good sources. You may also take it in supplement form, although it is best when taken straight from nature.
Protect your skin from the sun
We noted earlier that free radicals do damage to the skin. Exposure to the sun ranks among the major factors that encourage these unstable molecules to thrive.
You will, therefore, do well to make conscious efforts to protect your skin against ultraviolet rays from the sun. Protective clothing and sunscreens can provide significant protection whenever you will be spending a considerable amount of time outdoors.
Talking about sunscreens, make sure the product you use is able to protect against not only UVB rays, but also UVA. Many offerings protect only against the former, but the latter causes significant damage to collagen and elastin deep under your skin, accelerating skin aging.
Exfoliate on a regular basis
You can get help in rejuvenating your skin through regular exfoliation. This will be useful in getting rid of dead skin cells to reveal healthier-looking skin.
There is no need to use harsh chemicals to achieve this. You can find natural products on the market that can work well for exfoliation. It is also possible to make your own at home as well, using things such as papaya.
Methylene Blue May Hold the Answer
The latest evidence suggests that a synthetic drug that has been around since the 19th century may the perfect cure for slowing skin aging and promoting a younger appearance.
Dermatologist Saad Sami AlSogair noted in a presentation at the recent 19th World Dermatology Congress that there’s evidence that methylene blue can be useful in fighting the effects of aging on the skin.
The medication, which is also used as a dye, has the ability to stimulate both collagen and elastin. It can help to fight the mitochondrial dysfunction that is seen in aging as well.
Researchers say methylene blue can improve cellular oxygen consumption. It has the potential to boost oxygen levels and to help deal with free radicals.
The respected Saudi dermatologist said the drug reversed aging and showed evidence of enhancing longevity. It also produced a neuroprotective effect in people with Alzheimer’s disease.
Perhaps, most importantly for those desiring glowing, youthful skin, methylene blue was found to improve the thickness of the skin, to a level comparable to that of a younger person, when used on a 3D skin model.
Treatment with the drug led to an improvement in collagen production and the prevention of collagen destruction. It improved skin hydration as well.
The import of these findings is that methylene blue may hold the answer for fighting the most telltale sign of aging – wrinkles.
The Gist On Collagen And Elastin
From what we have discussed so far, you can see that both collagen and elastin are important for rejuvenating your skin and promoting a youthful appearance. This is in spite of the fact that most anti-aging skin treatments tend to focus on increasing the production of collagen only.
Maintaining a younger appearance demands then that you also make efforts to rejuvenate elastin while boosting collagen, even though the latter appears more important in the skin matrix considering the proportion it accounts for. Elastin is important for flexibility and form.
Luckily, a number of the treatments that help to increase collagen will also work for elastin. Some of these are invasive and others are not. Proper diet and regular exercise are among the steps you can also take to promote youthful looks.
Your dermatologist is in the best position to provide you recommendations on the right approach to take, based on your skin type, among other considerations.