What Is Collagen and What Does It Do


Have you ever wondered what is collagen? Or why is it considered so important for looking young and healthy? Well to be technical, collagen is a kind of protein that makes up nearly 25% of total amount of proteins found in the bodies of all mammals, including humans. According to American Academy of Dermatology, throughout your body, you have about 25 different types of identifiable collagens! Among them, at least a dozen are more are present in your skin only! That is why, when it comes to skin aging and skin care, it is very important to know thoroughly the answer to the question, “what is collagen”.

The Roles Of Collagen

In search of the answer, you have to first know what are roles that collagen plays in your body especially in your skin. This abundant protein is responsible for providing, to your tissues, structural support. That is why fibrous tissues like tendons, cartilages, muscles, ligaments and skin have an abundance of collagen in them. This protein is also found in teeth, bone, lungs and in other internal organs in your body. 2002 publication “Molecular Biology of the Cell” gives a close up of how collagen really works. By working with other proteins like elastin, it connects and supports body tissues; it provides the strength and firmness while elastin provides flexibility. These proteins cells are even working in your blood vessels!

Role Of Collagen In Skin

Now that you know something about “what is collagen”, let’s now learn its role in maintaining our skin. First of all, the middle layer of our skin, the dermis, is mostly made of collagen. According to American Academy of Dermatology, about 80% of dry weight of dermis is collagen! It forms a fibrous network which helps in the growth of new cells and with keratin, collagen provides strength, resilience and flexibility to your skin, according to DermNet NZ. When you see stretch marks in your skin, it means this network has broken due to excessive stretching of the skin!

Role Of Collagen In Aging

Most of the time, you will hear the term “collagen” in relation to skin aging. AgingSkinNet reports that by the time you are in your mid-20s, the production of collagen slows down and elastic fibers of your skin begin to lose their spring! So if you had not bothered to learn “what is collagen”, it is very important that you start learning all you can about this protein by the time you are 30! That is because, in addition to slowing of collagen production, the turnover of new skin cells are also going to decrease with time and you will start noticing, fine lines, wrinkles and other signs of aging! We are also responsible for hastening the process; we fail to notice that habits like repetitive facial expressions or smoking or sun exposure without any sunscreen, accelerates our skin aging. That is why, the main purpose of most anti-aging products in the market is to boost collagen production as that can lead to healthier and younger looking skin.

Collagen And Disease

We lose collagen not only due to natural aging factor but also due to other reasons as well. One such, according to American Academy of Dermatology, is the malfunctioning of the structure or in production of collagen modules. Many genetic disorders like Ehlers-Danlos syndrome or acquired diseases like systemic sclerosis also show collagen abnormalities as a manifestation of the problem. When there is a significant decrease in the level of collagen, the patient is said to suffer osteogenesis imperfecta, also known as the brittle bone disease.

Medical Use Of Collagen

Now that you know thoroughly about what is collagen and why it is important, let us read about the medical use of this protein. You can get collagen from many sources like cow skin, pig skin, from a deceased donor skin and even from the patient’s own skin. The collagen thus collected is used as facial fillers to improve skin texture, tone and appearance. When injected into the skin by dermatologist, the collagen starts working as body’s own collagen, according to DermNet NZ. Lastly, collagen is also sold as nutritional supplement to those suffering from joint problems and also used for creating skin substitutes for patients with severe degree of burns.