Monday, December 10, 2012

Making an old skin look young again

Companies spend a lot of time on convincing us to buy products that boost the skin. They make ludicrous claims about their product and its contents, while most of the skin care products that are on the market have yielded anything but scientifically valid evidence for their claims. Despite all that, scientists are performing research in order to find out how to keep the skin looking healthy. And it appears that some cosmetic products actually may have some therapeutic value, but perhaps not in the way that the companies that produce them originally thought.

Our body consists of billions of cells that all work together. While this is common knowledge, less well-known is the fact that all cells are part of a framework that keeps everything neatly packed and tightly together. This framework is called the extracellular matrix (ECM), to which cells attach themselves. It is used for more than just stability, as cells also need it, for a variety of reasons, to maintain healthy. An important component of the ECM is collagen, which is already artificially used as injections for skin augmentation. It is often described as a 'filler', as it fills up empty space and makes the skin look tight again. But it wears off quickly as we need the body's own cells to maintain the production of collagen, which in case of wrinkles and other conditions of bad skin is not adequately managed.

Collagen injections are quite popular as a filler, but scientists from the University of Michigan tried something different. In 21 volunteers aged over the age of 80, meaning they are well fitted with wrinkles, they performed collagen injections in the buttocks and assessed what happened to the skins cells. These cells are called fibroblasts and are normally responsible for the production of ECM components. What they found is that the injected collagen induced behavioural changes in the fibroblasts: within three months, these cells started producing more collagen themselves, which is beneficial for maintenance of the ECM. The scientists also found more blood vessels, providing oxygen and nutrients to the cells.

According to the researchers that conducted the study, it is likely that the cells 'sense' changes in their surroundings, and that it drives them to start behaving differently. We already know that the ECM is important in governing a cell's behaviour, and therefore it is not unreasonable to assume that the answer to natural skin repair lies in the framework that connects the cells. Cells are sensitive to their environment, and according to the scientists, this study provides additional insights in how the ECM acts on cellular behaviour.

The study shows that injections with collagen may actually be capable of restoring the skin. But instead of being used as a filler, as is commonly done, these molecules seem actually involved with repair, by switching on the fibroblasts which basically stimulates the body's own collagen production. This may lead to a fairly natural form of skin repair, as opposed to artificially filling things up. In their press release, the scientists wanted to make clear that their study was not funded by companies from the cosmetic industry, as one might expect: many 'scientific studies' in this area are funded by companies, and the results are not always trustworthy. As always, good scientific practice requires that such studies as the one performed by the University of Michigan are to be expanded on, especially by repeating the experiments and elaborating on the restorative mechanisms. It would also be necessary to conduct studies with younger participants.
Collagen is often injected in the lips, but it may be worthwhile to wait for therapies that are backed up by robust scientific evidence.


  1. Indeed, collagen is one of the primary needs of our skin but before pushing through with it. We can try doing some natural way by doing a regular exercise and proper diet according to what I've read from the article tulsi. We can even try to drink some tea that are good for our body too.

  2. Actually green tea is an wonderful remedy for making your health fit & perfect, if you have using ayurvedic its a added advantage to have so that green tea brand also increased in India, also good as a skin care and good for your teeth, and gums .Thanks for this wonderful blog

  3. Green tea is a herb which contains caffeine but in comparison to coffee and other types of tea, it has a lesser level but carries a very incredible level of antioxidant that making your health fit & perfect.