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Why Does Collagen Production Decrease After We Turn 20?

Skin ageing is a fact of life; everyone will face it sooner or later. In fact, our collagen production decreases as soon as we turn 20. At Rejuvenation Clinics of Australia, we have many anti-ageing treatments which can slow down the effects of ageing. However, in order to understand why we age, it is important to know the basics of the skin.

What does the skin consist of?skin-layers

The skin consists of three layers and these are:

The epidermis is the skin’s surface, it is a layer rich in keratin that is water-resistant and tough. This is where all the dead skin cells are shed, and where melanin (responsible for producing the colour of our skin) is found.

The second, deeper layer is called the dermis, which is composed of blood vessels, fat, nerves, elastin and collagen fibres. The collagen fibres and elastin provide the skin with elasticity.

Subcutaneous tissue
The deepest layer of your skin, mostly made of fat and connective tissue.

Why does our skin age?

There are two ageing processes; intrinsic ageing, which is caused by internal factors and normal body processes, and extrinsic ageing, caused by external factors.

Intrinsic Ageing

“After the age of 20, the dermis layer produces 1% less collagen each year. It is a natural ageing process known as intrinsic ageing,” says our Clinical Director Dr Garry Cussell. “The collagen and elastin fibres become thinner and looser as we age, which means our skin is less elastic, which eventually causes wrinkling and sagging.”

In our twenties, the skin’s exfoliation process decreases by 28%. This means our dead skin cells stick together for longer periods of time.

In our thirties, the transfer of moisture from the dermis to the epidermis is slowed and fat cells begin to shrink. These effects make the skin look dull and thin.

When we reach our forties, our collagen is reduced signficantly – meaning the collagen and elastin fibres break and lose their elasticity in the process. Finally, in our fifties, the skin becomes dry and more easily bruised as the sebaceous glands (which produce oil) have decreased in size. In women, menopause also decreases oestrogen levels, leaving the skin drier and less toned.

Are there ways to delay the ageing process?

You cannot stop the intrinsic ageing process that takes place over the years, but you can take steps to replenish the collagen and hydration in your skin. You can also control extrinsic ageing which happens as a result of environmental and lifestyle factors.


“One of the biggest causes of ageing is smoking. Not only does smoking cause health complications such as lung cancer and heart attacks, it also accelerates the ageing process,” says Senior Clinician Kirsten Tiplady. “This is because when you smoke, the blood vessels from your epidermis constrict.” The decreased blood flow to your skin prevents oxygen and other nutrients from reaching the skin. This then damages collagen and elasticity fibres in the skin, which accelerates wrinkles and causes sagging.

Smoking also reduces the skin’s moisture as well as well as vitamins, which are required for neutralising free radical damage. This eventually causes skin dryness.

Quitting smoking is one of the best ways to improve skin damaged by smoking. As the blood flow improves, your skin receives more oxygen nutrients, helping you develop a healthier complexion.

Always slip, slop, slap!

Excessive sun exposure also accelerates the skin ageing process. This is because ultraviolet (UV) radiation causes damage to DNA molecules, resulting in premature ageing. UV also activates melanocytes which produce pigment called melanin as a natural defence mechanism for the skin. This can result in hyperpigmentation which manifests as freckles, sun spots and uneven skin tone.

RejuvAus [M1] Super Moisturising UV Lotion
If that does not alarm you, you will be shocked to find out that skin cancer has increased by more than 250% among children, adolescents and young adults since 1973. Not only the incidence of melanoma increased, but researchers from the Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) have also discovered that the participants in the study had age spots and wrinkles which were normally seen in middle aged patients.

Are there any measures to protect our skin to keep it from ageing more than it needs to?

Prevention is key to minimising wrinkles, sun spots and uneven skin tone. We strongly recommend a physical sunscreen to protect yourself from UV rays. One sunscreen we recommend is RejuvAus [M1] Super Moisturising UV Lotion because, in additon to protecting your skin from UV radiation, it also contains therapeutic ingredients to reduce visible signs of sun damage.

After the age of 25, it is recommended to use skincare with Vitamins and Collagen Peptides. You can also consider professional treatments to help replenish the collagen and elastin in your skin.

Medical Grade Facials & Peels

Medical Grade Facials & Peels can improve the appearance of dull, wrinkled skin by providing deep exfoliation and nourishing the skin. They contain vital nutrients that stimulate significant cell turnover, which leads to brighter, more smoother looking skin.

Peels are an excellent option as a superficial treatment. There are also deeper, non-invasive treatments that can help rebuild collagen in your skin to reduce wrinkles and sagging.

Ultrasound Skin Tightening

Ultrasound Skin Tightening, performed with Ultraformer or Ultherapy, uses highly-focussed ultrasound energy (HIFU) to create controlled heat zones in the deep, dermal layer of your skin. These heat zones stimulate your collagen fibres, prompting them to rebuild and reproduce themselves to give your skin a more youthful lift with no downtime.

Radiofrequency Skin Tightening

Radiofrequency skin tightening with Thermage works in a similar way to Ultrasound Skin Tightening, but it uses Radiofrequency energy to stimulate your collagen. With radiofrequency, you need to use more energy to get the same result as ultrasound, which can result in a less comfortable treatment, so at Rejuvenation Clinics of Australia we prefer to use Ultraformer or Ultherapy.

Dermal Fillers

Dermal fillers are most effective and natural-looking when your skin has lost some volume due to atrophy of fat pads and loss of collagen. The main purpose of dermal fillers is to replace lost volume, but there is evidence to suggest that they stimulate collagen regeneration. At the time of injection, dermal fillers disrupt the existing collagen fibres in your skin, prompting them to regenerate and rebuild themselves.


Skincare serums with Collagen Peptides, Growth Factors and Vitamins A and C can stimulate some collagen regeneration to reduce signs of ageing in your skin. Vitamin A is one of the most highly trusted and well-researched skincare ingredients for this.

Skincare is not as powerful as a professional treatment and it can’t penetrate as deeply as in-clinic treatments, but it does make an excellent supplement to professional treatments and can help prolong your results.

What about Anti-Wrinkle Injections?

Technically speaking, Anti-Wrinkle Injections do not rebuild collagen in your skin. They’re a highly effective way to reduce wrinkles, but they use a different method.

Certain muscle movements cause your skin to crease and fold, resulting in wrinkles and lines over time. Anti-wrinkle injections relax the muscles that fold and crease your skin to keep wrinkles at bay. You can use anti-wrinkle injections in conjunction with other treatments and skincare products that do produce collagen to improve overall quality of your youthful, glowing skin.

Book Your Free Consultation For A Tailored Treatment Plan

We are located in Barangaroo, Chatswood and Sydney CBD

The content & media published on our website is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice. Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks, and results of cosmetic procedures will vary.

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