Skin is elastic. We don’t often think of it like this but we definitely notice what happens when elasticity diminishes. To get a general sense of what elasticity is, you could pinch a small area of your skin, such as the back of a hand or the cheek. The speed at which skin bounces back to being smooth indicates how elastic it is.
What Makes Skin Elastic?
Discussion about the skin usually revolves around the importance of collagen. There is another protein, though, elastin, that is equally as integral to the skin’s overall condition. Both elastin and collagen come from fibroblast cells but each has a distinct role to fill. Collagen is a protein with a triple-helix structure that makes it strong and resilient as the skin’s foundation. Elastin, on the other hand, is more disordered in its structure. The looseness of its foundation makes it stretchy. It is this characteristic that aids in the skin’s retraction capability.
Like collagen production, elastin proliferation slows down with age. Furthermore, the integrity of a person’s elastin may be somewhat affected by their genes. We could look at several people of the same age and see a wide range of elasticity in the skin even if they all shared the same lifestyle habits.
In addition to genetics and the natural breakdown of elastin, studies indicate that there are two more prominent factors that can contribute to a lack of elasticity: sun exposure and stress. Sunlight contains long- and short-wave ultraviolet radiation. We know this as UVA and UVB light. Both can cause sunburn. Both increase the risk of skin cancer. Both cause damage to the dermis that may not be seen for years. One of the effects of ultraviolet radiation is the deterioration of both elastin and collagen. Stress affects the skin through the hormone cortisol. When stress levels are consistently high, the body sustains a more concentrated amount of cortisol, which is known to cause inflammation that breaks down elastin.
There are several reasons why it is beneficial to foster good elasticity in the skin. Many of the cosmetic treatments that are performed to correct the signs of aging rely on the skin’s retraction capabilities to achieve the best results. Procedures such as face and neck lift surgery and even dermal filler treatment are somewhat affected by poor elasticity in the skin.
The best way to foster elasticity is to preserve it. It’s difficult to restore elasticity once it is lost. We encourage patients to use sunscreen on a daily basis as a primary way of protecting the skin’s natural resiliency. A diet that contains omega fatty acids, copper, manganese, zinc, and protein is also beneficial. These minerals and skin-boosting nutrients like vitamin C and E can usually be found in a quality multivitamin.
Professional treatments can also stimulate the fibroblasts to continue producing collagen and elastin. To learn about the facial rejuvenation treatments available in our Henderson office, speak with a friendly member of our staff.