4 Key Things Everyone Should Know About Collagen Loss and Skin Aging

4 Key Things Everyone Should Know About Collagen Loss and Skin Aging featured image

If you’ve ever done a quick Google search for the word collagen, you know that this essential protein plays quite a few important roles in your body. After all, this protein is one of the major building blocks of bones, muscles, tendons, and even the largest organ in your body: the skin.

When it comes to collagen in your skin, this protein is responsible for giving the skin structure and support for a more youthful-looking complexion.1-7 So, when collagen begins to break down in your body, you can expect signs of aging including facial lines and wrinkles to appear. Luckily, it is possible to help combat collagen loss and boost the production of this naturally occurring protein. Here, we’ll break down the top 4 things you need to know about collagen loss and skin aging.

1. Collagen is a major factor in the appearance of your skin

As one of the main proteins in our skin, collagen is an integral part of skin health. Collagen is often referred to as the “scaffolding” of the skin, supporting the functions of elastin and hyaluronic acid (HA), which helps maintain the skin’s shape, while keeping it smooth and hydrated. A healthy supply of collagen makes for a more youthful-looking complexion.1-7

Those with an abundance of collagen in their skin tend to look much younger than those with depleted collagen levels. As time goes on, visible signs of collagen loss will begin to become apparent, with skin becoming less hydrated and smooth. Translation: Less collagen means more wrinkles!

2. Collagen levels decrease as you age

When this collagen “scaffolding” begins to break down, it starts to show in the outer appearance of your skin. The largest culprit for collagen depletion? Age. Collagen levels vary from person to person (genetics matter here!), but studies have found that most people begin to lose collagen at a decrease of about 1 percent per year once they hit their mid-twenties.8 And by age 45, you face up to 25% collagen loss.8

3. Not all collagen treatments are the same

There are a number of treatments on the market that aim to boost collagen, but it’s important to note that not all anti-aging treatments are the same. Collagen creams can moisturize and temporarily improve the skin’s appearance, but these topical treatments don’t fully penetrate deep into the skin.9-11 Collagen supplements are broken down into collagen proteins when ingested, but their effectiveness remains inconclusive.12,13 For a substantial boost in collagen, opt for an in-office procedure such as an injectable treatment that helps stimulate collagen from deep within the skin.

4. Look for a clinically proven collagen stimulation treatment that works from the inside out

If you want to address an underlying cause of facial aging, not just the symptoms, then Sculptra® may be a good choice for you. Sculptra is the first and only FDA-approved PLLA facial injectable treatment that helps stimulate the skin’s own collagen production to smooth facial wrinkles, such as smile lines.14-15 It works gradually to rebuild collagen and help restore the skin’s inner structure from the inside out for a more youthful-looking appearance.14-19

Experts recommend a series of Sculptra treatments—typically around three—for full benefits. Results appear gradually—meaning no drastic changes in your natural appearance—and can last up to 2 years.14* Be sure to consult with your aesthetics practitioner to determine if this treatment is best for you.


Indication: Sculptra® (injectable poly-L-lactic acid) is indicated for use in people with healthy immune systems for the correction of shallow to deep nasolabial fold contour deficiencies and other facial wrinkles.

Sculptra should not be used by people that are allergic to any ingredient of the product or have a history of keloid formation or hypertrophic scarring. Safety has not been established in patients who are pregnant, lactating, breastfeeding, or under 18 years of age.

Sculptra has unique injection requirements and should only be used by a trained healthcare practitioner. Contour deficiencies should not be overcorrected because they are expected to gradually improve after treatment.

Sculptra should not be injected into the blood vessels as it may cause vascular occlusion, infarction or embolic phenomena. Use at the site of skin sores, cysts, pimples, rashes, hives or infection should be postponed until healing is complete. Sculptra should not be injected into the red area (vermillion) of the lip or in the peri-orbital area.

The most common side effects after initial treatment include injection site swelling, tenderness, redness, pain, bruising, bleeding, itching and lumps. Other side effects may include small lumps under the skin that are sometimes noticeable when pressing on the treated area. Larger lumps, some with delayed onset with or without inflammation or skin discoloration, have also been reported.

Sculptra is available only through a licensed practitioner. Complete Instructions for Use are available at www.SculptraUSA.com/IFU.


 *Clinical study ended at 96 weeks (2 years)


  1. Deshmukh SN, Dive AM, Moharil R, Munde P. Enigmatic insight into collagen. J Oral Maxillofac Pathol. 2016;20(2):276–283. doi:10.4103/0973-029X.185932
  2. Skin. Cleveland Clinic website. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/10978-skin. Accessed December 3, 2019.
  3. Vollmer DL, West VA, Lephart ED. Enhancing Skin Health: By Oral Administration of Natural Compounds and Minerals with Implications to the Dermal Microbiome. Int J Mol Sci. 2018;19(10):3059. Published 2018 Oct 7.
  4. Aging and skin care. Cleveland Clinic website. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/10979-aging-and-skin-care. Accessed December 3, 2019.
  5. Papakonstantinou E, Roth M, Karakiulakis G. Hyaluronic acid: A key molecule in skin aging. Dermatoendocrinol. 2012;4(3):253–258. doi:10.4161/derm.21923
  6. Avila Rodríguez MI, Rodríguez Barroso LG, Sánchez ML. Collagen: A review on its sources and potential cosmetic applications. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2018 Feb;17(1):20-26.
  7. Borumand M, Sibilla S. Daily consumption of the collagen supplement Pure Gold Collagen® reduces visible signs of aging. Clin Interv Aging. 2014;9:1747–1758. Published 2014 Oct 13.
  8. Shuster S, Black MM, McVitie E. The influence of age and sex on skin thickness, skin collagen and density. Br J Dermatol. 1975;93:639-643.
  9. Ganceviciene R, Liakou AI, Theodoridis A, Makrantonaki E, Zouboulis CC. Skin anti-aging strategies. Dermatoendocrinol. 2012;4(3):308–319.
  10. Zhang S, Duan E. Fighting against Skin Aging: The Way from Bench to Bedside. Cell Transplant. 2018;27(5):729–738.
  11. Wrinkle creams: Your guide to younger looking skin. Mayo Clinic website. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/wrinkles/in-depth/wrinkle-creams/art-20047463. Accessed January 17, 2020.
  12. Vollmer DL, West VA, Lephart ED. Enhancing Skin Health: By Oral Administration of Natural Compounds and Minerals with Implications to the Dermal Microbiome. Int J Mol Sci. 2018;19(10):3059. Published 2018 Oct 7.
  13. Can collagen supplements help tighten loose skin? Cleveland Clinic website. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/can-collagen-supplements-help-tighten-loose-skin/. Accessed January 17, 2020.
  14. Sculptra. Instructions for Use. Galderma Laboratories, L.P., 2021.
  15. Stein P, Vitavska O, Kind P, Hoppe W, Wieczorek H, Schürer NY. The biological basis for poly-L-lactic acid-induced augmentation. J Dermatol Sci. 2015;78:26-33.
  16. Vleggaar D, Fitzgerald R. Dermatological implications of skeletal aging: a focus on supraperiosteal voluminization for perioral rejuvenation. J Drugs Dermatol. 2008;7(3):209-220.
  17. Fitzgerald R, Vleggaar D. Dermatol Ther. 2011;24:2.
  18. Narins RS, et al. A randomized study of the efficacy and safety of injectable poly-L-lactic acid versus human-based collagen implant in the treatment of nasolabial fold wrinkles. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2010 Mar;62(3):448 -462.
  19. Brandt FS, et al. Investigator global evaluations of efficacy of injectable poly-L-lactic acid versus human collagen in the correction of nasolabial fold wrinkles. Aesthet Surg J. 2011 Jul;31(5):521-8.

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