Well Being

Injectable Cosmetic Fillers Make Aging Skin Cells Act Young Again

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A recent study from the University of Michigan found that creating a youthful environment for your skin cells to live in can “wake up” aging skin cells, causing them to produce more collagen and boosting the overall thickness of thinning skin. Awesome! So how do we create such a skin environment? Oh. By injecting our skin with a dermal filler such as Juvederm or Resylane.

It seems our skin's extracellular matrix–an array of tiny fibrils of collagen that skin cells hang out in–becomes fragmented with age, causing cells to disconnect from the matrix and deteriorate rapidly.

But when dermatologists injected the skin of 21 volunteers (all over age 80) with with a common cosmetic wrinkle reducer, the skin cells began “expressing collagen-related genes,” producing more collagen and forming better connections to the extracellular matrix. Their whole layer of facial skin grew thicker, too.

“Fragmentation of the extracellular matrix plays an important role in skin aging, but by altering the matrix using an external filler and increasing the internal pressure, we've shown that we can essentially trigger a signal for cells to wake up,” said Gary Fisher, senior author of the new study, published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.


Not crazy about the idea of injecting something into your face? Me neither — though injectable dermal fillers are generally considered pretty safe (at least their not made of botulism?). Anyway, according to Fisher, the implications of this go beyond the cosmetic. The skin thinning that occurs with age doesn't just make our skin look less youthful, it also leaves us more prone to skin tearing and problems healing after injury or surgery.

Better understanding of how the ECM helps support healing could lead to better strategies for helping patients heal, said Fisher. “We still need to know more about how cells sense their environment, but in general it appears we have made a real difference in the structural integrity of skin.”