Collagen: The Magical Protein
By Bill Murphy MD, Medical Director Turquoise Springs Medical Spa
Have you heard you need to take collagen powder or pills for your hair, your nails, and your bones or use creams to supplement collagen for your skin? Which brands are the best, and when are you too old to even think you can make a difference? It is so confusing. Let’s try to make some sense of this important natural building block, especially for our largest organ, our skin.
Collagen is a protein made in our body for our joints, hair, nails, bones, muscles, tendons, and skin. The most common (90%) is Type 1, but Type 2 and Type 3 are also very important for elasticity and the strength of our tissues. Collagen in our skin is in the dermal layer, which is just under the epidermis or surface, so it makes up the foundation of our skin. Types 1 and 3 predominate there. They make our skin look supple, elastic, and wrinkle-free.
As we age, our body’s collagen production decreases naturally, but this loss can be accelerated by other factors such as excessive sun exposure, smoking, toxins, petrochemicals, phthalates, and other oxidative agents we are exposed to as we eat, drink, and breathe. Biopsy samples of a 20 and a 50-year-old viewed under the lens of a microscope would be different. The dermal layer would be less thick (less supple), and the collagen fibers would not be wound tight like little springs (less elasticity) in the 50-year-old sample. What can be done to restore the thickness and the elasticity of the skin? Is it possible? The good news is, yes, it is possible. First, let’s discuss how to slow the loss and aging of your collagen.
Taking care of your body and your skin starts with limiting some of the bad things you take into your body. Bad things cause “oxidation,” and oxidation breaks down your body (DNA, cells, collagen). Begin to eat and drink less prepared and fast food with preservatives, food additives, and chemicals that oxidize or break down your cells. We also absorb chemicals through our skin and lungs. Check your house for mold. Do you sleep on bedding made of petrochemicals or foam? Look for BPA-free labels. Consider an air filtration system for your bedroom, where you spend one-third of your life.
All of our topical skin products at Turquoise Springs are medical grade and contain only natural, non-toxic ingredients. Protect your skin from excessive sun damage with sunscreen and sun blockers, and apply often. Use a hat and skin cover when you can. Our Collagen powder contains Types I, II, and III, and our supplements and minerals such as Vitamin A, C, Zinc, and magnesium are collagen fertilizers.
Now let’s get proactive. We have several ways to actively restore and reactivate your natural collagen. Micro-needling with radiofrequency (RF) energy (Secret RF) is my favorite procedure. I place small needles comfortably through the epidermis and into the dermal layer to stimulate stem cells to produce new collagen in the dermis. Plasma Pen is another way of introducing energy into the dermal layer to stimulate collagen production and reduce skin wrinkles and creases. PRX-T33 is an ingenious topical application in 4 treatments to invigorate the dermal layer and reduce wrinkles. Injectable agents like Sculptra and Radiesse stimulate the production of natural type 1 and type 3 collagen.
I customize a treatment plan for my patients using a variety of topicals, supplements, treatment modalities, and injectables to create desired restoration results. The “magical moment” is when my patient is asked what is different about her skin by a friend. Usually, the compliment is something like “you look rested, or healthy, or glowing”………..The Magic of Collagen.