Laser & SculpSure Center Annapolis
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Understanding How Our Skin Ages

What are the Key Components that Keep Our Skin Young?


Our skin is made up of three layers, the epidermis, the dermis and the hypodermis. The layer that is critical to the aging process is the middle layer, the dermis, which gives the skin its strength and support. It contains the nerves, blood vessels and cells, called fibroblasts, that produce those amazing strands of collagen and elastin . Collagen is the protein fiber (brown strands in the picture) that gives skin its scaffolding strength, and elastin (the green chains in the drawing), the elasticity or bounce to the skin. The base of the middle layer is a gel-like substance made up of among other things, glycoproteins and chondroitin sulphate, AND that magical molecule, hyaluronic acid (HA)(blue bubbles) which holds onto water and nutrients to keep that outer layer of skin, hydrated, soft, and dewy.


As you can see, in this lovely drawing, aging skin begins to lose all of those nice plumping ingredients that provide youthful skin a smooth, lifted architecture and appearance. Did you know just from the inevitable ticking of the clock, we lose about 1% of skin collagen per year beginning at age 20? Those fibroblasts just aren’t working so well, loss of hormones in the aging process causes all sorts of havoc, and HA homeostasis really drops off. On top of that, things like pollutants in the air, poor diet , UV rays from the sun (photo-aging), smoking, and lifestyle stress can cause oxidative stress and inflammation which speed the breakdown of collagen and elastin and decrease HA. As that middle layer of skin weakens, the surface of the skin (epidermis) begins to sag and wrinkle and we lose actual skin volume.


Luckily, recent advancements in medical science and technology in the last decade, have given us the ability to safely alter nature, actually hold back time, and help us maintain a more youthful, but natural appearance. Many of the non-surgical cosmetic laser, energy, microneedling treatments, and peels, as well as our pharmaceutical grade skincare products involve boosting the production and stabilization of those key substances in our skin: collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid. For example, a chemical peel causes a controlled injury to the surface of the skin, and the healing process stimulates new collagen and elastin formation.  Microneedling and various lasers cause micro-injury to that middle layer of the skin, directly inducing production of collage, elastin and hyaluronic acid, causing skin renewal. Hyaluronic acid injectables are thought also to stimulate fibroblasts to increase their production. Regularly applied skin care products containing retinoids or vitamin-A derivatives cause cell turnover, boosting production of these agents. Anti-oxidants, like vitamin C, work to fight the destructive effects of environmental aggressors by neutralizing free radicals.

Of course, taking care of our health, eating whole foods, and wearing sunscreen (single best preventative thing you can do!) are simple things you can do to help keep your skin youthful.

That’s it in a nutshell. Hope that helps demystify some of the terminology you may see on your prevention, maintenance and revitalization journey. Visit our website to learn more, and stay tuned for more insights.

We are now offering Telehealth as an alternative to in-office visits. Call us at(410) 544-9988 to learn more