The underlying aim of most aesthetic treatments is to correct the fact that, as we get older, we lose two important components which make up healthy, youthful skin – collagen and elastin!! These are found in the connective tissue, also called the “cellular glue”, which supports, connects and separates the different types of tissues and organs in the body. There are three main elements in the connective tissue:
• Elastic and collagenous fibres making up the connective tissue matrix.
• A gel-like substance that surrounds the cells, containing mostly water and elements that attract water such as hyaluronic acid.
• Cells including fibroblasts which make collagen and elastin fibres.
Collagen and elastin work together to create skin strength, firmness and shape. Collagen is comprised of very strong fibres which are laid down in a tight basket weave configuration creating a framework providing strength, rigidity and foundation whilst elastin allows the skin to stretch or contract and then snap back to its original shape, such as when we make a facial expression, as well as providing the soft feel of skin. Together they form a three-dimensional connective tissue network providing a medium for oxygen and nutrients to be delivered from the blood supply to the skin cells, and carbon dioxide and waste products to be taken from the cells back into circulation.
Both these components have everything to do with wrinkles and sagging skin!
When we are young there is plenty of collagen and elastin and our skin is firm and smooth – but after 20 years of age we begin to lose 1% of collagen every year. In addition other factors, including UV damage which is a major factor, change the formation of the connective tissue fibres – instead of a basket weave formation the collagen fibres become more rigid and are laid down side by side causing a weaker framework so the skin buckles and bends forming wrinkles, wounds heal more slowly and the skin becomes thinner becoming more vulnerable to environmental factors as less nutrients and oxygen can get through to the skin cells. With a decrease in elastin the skin loses the ability to snap back to its original shape as it is stretched over and over again resulting in skin sagging.