They say with age comes wisdom. Sadly though, with age also comes lines, wrinkles and sagging skin. But with so many beauty buzzwords, hype, and misinformation available online, it can sometimes be hard to separate scientific fact from fiction in the search for effective anti-ageing solutions. So here I explore what’s really going on beneath your skin during the perimenopausal years, I delve into the science of collagen, and reveal how Sculptra® has been proven to target the signs of ageing to create a naturally youthful look.
The change within
The perimenopausal years bring about many changes for women, most notably the dramatic drop in oestrogen levels. These hormonal changes are directly linked to the reduction in collagen production, which then manifests itself as signs of ageing. As Harvard’s Medical School Skin Care and Repair Special Health Report (Ref 1) explains; ‘The deterioration of collagen and elastin and the pull of gravity can result in some of the classic signs of aging skin: fine lines around the eyes, deepened expression lines at the corners of the mouth and across the forehead, and sagging skin.’
The reason collagen plays such a vital role in the ageing process is because it is responsible for the structure and scaffolding of your skin. It gives the skin shape, support and tone, it improves the barrier of the skin, and it is fundamentally integral to your skin health.
Here I have made a short video showing my own recent Sculptra® treatment to achieve a natural face lift.
The facts might surprise you
What you may not realise is that your collagen production has been quietly running down since your 20s! From the age of around 25, collagen production starts to decrease at a rate of 1% per year, climbing to 5% per year during the perimenopausal years. However, it is between the age of 45 and 55 that collagen starts to dramatically deplete, leading to the more noticeable signs of sagging.
This change also affects gentlemen too, however their hormonal changes are much more gradual and therefore the signs of ageing appear less dramatic.
The signs of ageing (collagen has a lot to answer for!)
Typical signs of ageing resulting from a lack of collagen include pronounced nose to mouth lines, sagging skin, formation of jowls, and loss of elasticity, sunken cheeks, a loss of plumpness, volume and vitality in the face, loss of definition of the jawline, and a more tired look overall.
How to slow down time
Sadly, we can’t stop the clock, however there are measures you can take to help protect and preserve your collagen levels. Avoiding sun exposure and taking a regular vitamin A and vitamin C supplement will help. But as for those collagen drinks and supplements? Avoid the hype and save your money! On a chemical level, they won’t help. If you’re serious about boosting your collagen, I recommend Sculptra®.
The science of Sculptra®
Sculptra® is an injectable treatment that has been around since 1999. The main ingredient in Sculptra® is poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA) which effectively mends muscle and stimulates your natural collagen production.
Once injected, ‘The PLLA acts like scaffolding, providing a structure on which collagen can grow and making it easier for your body to build more of the protein’ as stated by Dr Sarkar (Ref 2). It provides long-lasting, natural-looking results that can last two to three years.
A fluid suspension of Sculptra® is introduced under the skin at 2 or 3 entry points on the face. A local anaesthetic is used to numb the entry area and the whole process is incredibly straightforward and relaxed – during which I usually play music and chat to you throughout the procedure. Afterwards, there may be some mild tenderness, but no pain relief is needed, and you can continue to go about your day as usual. Simply take the vitamin A and vitamin C supplements and use the active skincare products I provide as part of the treatment package to ensure you get the best results.
The waiting game
Unlike treatments such as hyaluronic acid fillers, the results of Sculptra® are not immediately apparent – they develop gradually, which is actually one of its major plus points. Over the coming days, weeks and months, you’ll start to see subtle differences that eventually add up to an impressive result within six months. It is therefore the ideal choice for anyone who prefers to keep their ‘tweakments’ under wraps – no need to worry about leaving the clinic with obviously altered features! In time, however, cheeks will feel fuller and higher, skin will feel firmer and brighter, and the face will have a noticeably more youthful glow.
Because Sculptra® stimulates your body to create your own collagen, the results look so natural. Facial movement is completely unrestricted, and it has a pan-facial effect (unlike alternative treatments that target just one area), therefore giving a more cohesive overall look.
The right image is 27 weeks after 3 vials of Sculptra® - image from Galderma study
Maintaining the look
I invite all Sculptra® patients back to the clinic to assess the results at 6 months. Results can last for 2 to 3 years – in fact, according to research by Brown, Rohrich, Baumann, et al (Ref 3), ‘80% of users were still satisfied with their treatment results 25 months after their last injection’. That said, I recommend an annual single treatment to maintain the collagen production to ensure you remain looking your best for many years.
Want to know more?
Book a 30-minute consultation with me or nurse Claire - we will listen to you, assess your face and neck and advise how to achieve the best outcomes.
Clinical Director, Victoria Dobbie, has almost two decades of experience in aesthetic medicine and has performed more than 40,000 treatments. She is passionate about helping women through menopause and has a solid understanding of the science behind the most effective anti-ageing treatments. She has being performing Sculptra® treatments for 12 years and complete thousands of successful treatment plans.
References and resource links
- Ref 1: Harvard’s Medical School Skin Care and Repair Special Health Report
- Ref 2: Real Self – Sculptra® , Here’s Why It’s Not Your Average Filler
- Ref 3: Sculptra® Aesthetic – Brown SA, Rohrich RJ, Baumann L, et al. Subject global evaluation and subject satisfaction using injectable poly-L-lactic acid versus human collagen for the correction of nasolabial fold wrinkles. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2011;127(4):1684–1692.