Do collagen pills prevent wrinkles?

Shirley M. Madhere, MD
Plastic Surgery

I am not a good pill-taker. I would rather take my meds in the form of whole, non-processed foods (as green, leafy vegetables or brightly colored fruit) or a green smoothie. Nevertheless, a modern-day person’s diet is surely lacking in all vital nutrients. So, it may be beneficial to supplement even a relatively healthy diet with a pill or two.

Collagen occurs naturally in our body and is a fundamental component of tendons, ligaments, skin, muscle, and other tissues. It is also essential in strengthening blood vessels to help improve the circulation and in healing from trauma and inflammation. As we age, our ability to create sufficient collagen decreases. So, we want to hold on to it for as long as possible! How we may do so effectively is probably the subject of many a past (and future) scientific studies!

On the subject of whether taking collagen pills can prevent wrinkling, I will say "no." However, there are a few studies (from Asia and Europe) that found that women who took collagen pills daily for at least two months experienced increased skin resilience. Whether that result translated into a significant enough effect to a) last and b) prevent wrinkles-- has not been proven.

In addition, one must question how the collagen is processed into a pill. Is the source human or animal? Is the collagen processed so as to render it ineffective? Does the collagen survive the first-pass effect and the stomach's enzymes to be reliably delivered to the skin where it is needed?

Aging is a multifactorial process that results from many variables. These include heredity, diet, exercise, natural collagen levels, the environment, and others. Thus, I find it hard to accept that one pill may reverse all or many of these factors to effectively prevent wrinkles.

I believe that one of the best approaches to age well is a holistic one. Mind your temple and ensure your total body wellness from the inside and out. Eat well, exercise adequately, manage stress effectively, maintain a positive psychological balance, keep your brain active, and stay social. If it is within your beauty philosophy, when the wrinkles arrive, look into injectables or cosmetic plastic surgery. Just as aging is a process of multifactorial nature, an optimal age management plan includes a number of options as well.