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November 05, 2014

What is collagen?

Ah, collagen! The mere mention of the word inspires dreams of restored youth. But what exactly is it and what can it do for us? You probably recognize it as an ingredient in many anti-aging creams, but did you know that collagen is actually a natural protein produced by the human body?

Collagen’s important role

Collagen is one of the body’s most important proteins. It forms a network of fibres that provides the framework for various tissues such as skin, cartilage, bones, tendons and muscles, making them resistant, supple and elastic.

Of the 19 types of collagen known, type I has been identified as the building block of skin. Starting at around age 25, the production of type 1 collagen gradually begins to decline. Skin then loses some of its elasticity, giving rise to the first wrinkles.

Collagen creams

Given its important role, collagen is a common ingredient in dermo-cosmetic products.

Creams formulated with collagen make great moisturizers for daily use. They leave skin soft, without an oily film. The drawback is that the collagen molecules are too large to penetrate the dermis. As a result, you cannot expect any radical improvement of lines and wrinkles from these creams.  

Collagen injections  

Bovine collagen injected underneath the skin is another option used to fill in wrinkles. Results are good, but temporary, since the collagen is eventually absorbed by the body. There is no agreement as to how long the effect lasts. It can be anywhere from 3 to 18 months, depending on the source. Before considering this type of treatment, be sure to ask about price, contraindications (e.g. auto-immune diseases) and allergy risks. Allergy testing is generally recommended before going ahead with the injections.

Thermage therapy

Thermage therapy involves the use of a device that sends radiofrequencies to the deep layers of skin to tighten collagen fibres and stimulate the production of new collagen.  

The therapy is very expensive, sometimes painful and entails certain risks (e.g. changes in pigmentation, scarring), but can nonetheless be a viable option before considering a surgical procedure.  Results, which are not guaranteed, appear gradually in the months following the treatment. A second treatment can be required.

Pharmacy services

Do you have questions about anti-aging products? Talk to your Uniprix dermo-cosmetic consultant. She will be more than happy to help.

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