Skin Tightening Series: Collagen Stimulants

As we age, we produce less collagen each year, our hormones change, and we also lose the fine layer of fat under the skin that keeps everything looking rather perfect. After a while, we notice that we are seeing the skin in certain areas look a bit like crepe paper. We also see that some areas are starting to sag…for whatever reason, this happens to present itself to us almost “suddenly”, like we never saw it before. Left untreated…this unwanted trend continues, and continues…

While no one has developed the magic machine that will return our skin to its “twenty-something” brilliance, there are methods and treatments that can help…sometimes a lot. The main caveat: Your skin didn’t get in this shape overnight, and because we continue to move on, we need to continue treatments as long as we care about our appearance. Some treatments however are more efficacious than others. In this three-part series I will discuss the three modalities of skin tightening. 

Collagen Stimulants 

Using collagen stimulants for skin tightening is not a new idea, and I have been doing it in my practice easily over 10 years now. It is however rapidly gaining in publicity as patients and practitioners alike see the amazing results that can be obtained. 

The one true collagen stimulant that can achieve surgery-worthy results is poly-l-lactic acid. The brand name, Sculptra Aesthetic, has been around for 16 years and in the right hands and the right patient can create amazing results. While it is approved for use in the face to recreate lost volume and structure, it is now widely used for all areas of the body where the skin has shown the signs of age and deterioration. 

Sculptra Aesthetic is an injectable product that comes anhydrous, but is reconstituted with sterile water and the lactic acid particles are allowed to hydrolyze for a few days. More sterile water and perhaps some lidocaine are added at the time of treatment to make the treatment more comfortable and to provide a more dilute solution. The various areas are then injected just under the skin. In some areas a cannula will be used, but in other areas (such as the buttocks) a long needle is more comfortable. The patient is then required to massage the areas several times a day for the next 5 days. The reason for this is to keep the lactic acid particles evenly distributed as the sterile water is absorbed in order to provide for even stimulation. After about 4 weeks subtle changes are noticed. It takes about 3 months to see the best result but most practitioners will complete two or three treatments, 8 weeks apart to achieve really “wow” results. Remember from above that the skin did not get into its current state overnight. It took many years to get there. Therefore, it may take a few treatments to get back to that youthful, healthy look of years ago.

The extended stimulation continues for about 12 months, with again, the greatest occurring in the first 3 months. Since your body has created more of its natural collagen rather than placing a “filler”, the results last often a few years. When one begins to see a bit of that crepey skin reappearing, catching it quickly may only require one treatment session. The areas of the body that are commonly treated are:

There may be a bit of tenderness the day after treatment for which Advil or Tylenol may be taken. Once the patient gets into the massaging the tenderness eases up quickly. Bruising is possible but generally is minimal.

Dr. Bonnie Marting, DNP, APRN Bonnie K. Marting, DNP, APRN, is a renowned aesthetic and laser specialist. Clients from all over the world value her deep knowledge of facial anatomy and her ability to transform their look with a light and natural touch at Anushka Medical Spa in West Palm Beach, Florida.

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