The Collagen Factor: Why the Precious Protein Is Vital for Scar Reduction

The Collagen Factor: Why the Precious Protein Is Vital for Scar Reduction featured image
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We know collagen as the skin plumper—it’s the thing that helps keep our skin looking healthy and bright. It strengthens skin, provides elasticity and is known as the scaffolding behind our dermis for a reason. So, it makes sense that collagen would have a leading role in scar formation and reduction.

What it Does

When any type of wound occurs in the skin, collagen forms around the wound to repair it. This healing process is triggered by cuts, burns, or damage from a concern like acne or chickenpox. “As part of the healing process, fibroblasts will lay down collagen in the scar,” explains Palo Alto, CA facial plastic surgeon Sam P. Most, MD. “Ultimately, some of this will be broken down and will not be permanent. The goal is to minimize excess fibroblast or collagen deposition in scars.” However, in the case of collagen, sometimes too much of a good thing can be bad. Excessive collagen production can lead to keloid or hypertrophic scars, which can be raised or larger than the original wounds.

Promoting Healing

To heal incisions, wounds and cuts faster, Dr. Most says the main things to do are to minimize tension on the scar and keep it moist with a petroleum-based ointment for the first three weeks. “Then switch to a silicone-based scar gel or strip that can cover the wound and promote normal healing,” he advises. A high-concentration silicone gel, like Skinceuticals Advanced Scar Control ($110), can create an occlusive barrier that helps skin retain hydration which is needed to protect the wound.

For Acne Scars

According to Saddle Brook, NJ dermatologist Dr. Fredric Haberman, collagen stimulation to reduce the look of acne scars can be done with filler. “Bellafill stimulates collagen growth long-term to help maintain your youthful appearance for up to five years. It works well on acne scars, and you can save money by not having to continue to go back year after year for frequent filler injections,” he explains.

While you’ll get the same immediate improvement you’d get with other filler types, this collagen-based filler uses nonabsorbable microsphere collagen that serves as a foundation for further stimulation. “It creates a ‘scaffold’ onto which your own natural collagen can develop,” says Dr. Haberman.

Future Findings

Other treatment methods for making scars less noticeable are freezing the scar, laser therapy, onion extract and even radiation therapy. Skin regeneration and skin substitutes are a futuristic-sounding advances scientists are currently working on developing, but until then, protecting, repairing and stimulating more collagen is needed to speed successful scar healing.

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