Collagen and elastin are structural proteins made and used in the human body. Collagen is found primarily in tendons, ligaments, and the connective tissue of skin, blood vessels, and lungs. Elastin is found primarily in the artery walls, lungs, intestines, and skin. These proteins work in partnership in connective tissues.
Collagen gives connective tissue and organs rigidity so that they can function, and elastin lets them stretch and return to their original state. Collagen does not allow the elastin to stretch to the point of breaking. In the skin, collagen and elastin are the primary components of the dermis--the layer right beneath the epidermis. They provide the support structure of the skin.
The human body stops producing elastin when you hit puberty. This is when the aging process begins. Without elastin replenishment, collagen begins to lose its elasticity and begins to weaken. The loss of the skin's tone and resiliency are the most common visual markers of this process. Facial expressions begin to put stress on collagen and after a period of time, wrinkles begin to appear.
Some companies advertise the use of collagen and elastin in their anti-aging creams and moisturizers; however, these products work only on the skin surface. According to the contributing dermatologists at MedicineNet, creams and moisturizers cannot penetrate the skin and are not designed to be absorbed; therefore they will not undo the cumulative effect of collagen loss. The creams slow the rate of water loss and keep the skin supple.
Collagen can be used as an anti-aging agent in the form of an injectable filler. The filler is placed right beneath the surface of the skin. This collagen replenishes the support structure of the skin by supplementing existing collagen and restoring the contour of the skin. Injectable fillers will smooth facial lines and most scars.
The fillers may cause allergic reactions and a skin test prior to the first treatment is recommended. Additionally, slight bruising, puffiness, redness and tenderness may occur around the injection site. Certain medical conditions may rule out the use of fillers.