SAVING FACE – surgeon messianic about collagen


“Clients want, rattle, smoke, vibrate (and roll) when it comes to anti-ageing,” says Dr Eric Schulte. That is not what QMS does. He launches into the reasons using complex scientific information with such bonhomie and simplicity that you forget he is an acclaimed plastic surgeon and traumatologist in Göttingen University Clinic in Germany.

It was during his treatment of severe accident and burn victims that he started to research the significance of collagen in wound healing Despite his brilliant reconstruction of the shape of the face,  ‘he was disappointed in the result as the skin  remained scarred and damaged.’ He knew that if he could find a way to reintroduce collagen into the skin, scar formation would be reduced and skin could be regenerated.  Logically, this could be applied for aesthetic reasons too. . Due to visible improvements in the texture and the healing of the skin when used post-operatively, Dr. Schulte introduced the products in pre-operative care and found exceptional results could be achieved.

Dr Eric Schulte is messianic about collagen’s role in anti-ageing. “Collagen is the most important protein in your skin,”  he says, 65 per cent of the body’s proteins are collagen. They are responsible for the elasticity of the skin.  Which is why gravity slowly starts taking its toll after the age of 25 your ability to produce these miracle workers decreases.

If it’s so simple, where’s the rub? “Collagen molecules are too big to penetrate the barrier of your skin,” he says. The cream is on top not inside – the reason collagen creams have, at best, been labelled ineffective.

Dr Schulte realised he needed to get the collagen past the dermis, instead of just hanging around outside to the epidermis where the cells called fibroblasts secrete collagen and where elastin, in conjunction with collagen, gives skin its elasticity. So he did. These ‘micellised’ molecules are made by unravelling the strands of a collagen molecule centrifugally (at about 400 000 rpm). Once the molecules are through the epidermis they re-unite joyfully as collagen and start working on plumping your skin from the inside. His analogy for breaking up the helix of the collagen DNA is simple. Separate three South African and send them to Spain – they will unite speaking a common language and the trio will again be complete.

In an effort to differentiate himself from the big cosmetics companies, Schulte calls his approach “medicosmetics” – a bespoke bespoke approach to skincare. But Schulte is keen to point out that he is not selling products but offering a system, and he guarantees that if it is followed, the quality of one’s skin will improve. Computerised skin models- yes they can re-create the skin –prove it.

But if you are into instant gratification – QMS is no quick fix.  Dr Schulte says, it is not about making the skin look good temporarily but to start regeneration form the inside. According to Nick Foulkes, eminent (and fairly cynical columnist in the UK) the results over 120 days are significant. “Changes that betokened a general improvement in the health of my skin: an elasticity about the cheek that had ceased to behave like a recently vacated bean bag – poking a finger into that area no longer left a dent – and, it may be my imagination, but even the monkey lines seem a little less mocking.’

It’s all about the messenger says Dr Schulte.  The skin is after all designed as a barrier and messenger technology is one of the most important advances in science. You need to have effects beyond the basal barrier – the layer between the epidermis and dermis beyond which most cosmetic formulations go. Once there they start a collagen boot camp – stepping up activity levels and production..

And it seems that this sort of technology is going to become more mainstream. The L’Oréal-owned Vichy came out with LiftActiv including Serum 10, and Derm Source Night Cream), which uses something called rhamnose –apparently a similar messenger technology to stimulate collagen production this was described to me by Julie McManus, L’Oréal’s scientific director in the UK, as “a simple sugar monosaccharide R” derived from plants and that, she claims, uses similar messenger technology to stimulate collagen production.

He days counsel that these super serums will not achieve the same results as for example laser treatment – which he believes is invasive and damaging. Peeling “My credo is long life stimulation of the skin, he says, “for which the skin will thank you later.  Less aggressive methods take longer but are more successful. Don’t mechanically or chemically destroy the barrier function of the epidermis

He cautions on expectations though. Remember he says, the epidermal layer is only 1/10th of a millimetre so you cannot expect anti-sagging effects in such a thin layer. He grabs a handful of his neck and says, “This would need plastic surgery.”

Dr Schulte says it is not only women but men who are buying in(at a heavy price) to the anti-ageing market. “He says his male clientele have increased from 5% to 35% since he started for both procedures and creams. “Men embrace faster cellular products like QMS’s Cellular Marine and Cellular Alpine which uses the latest in herbal stem cell and harness the regenerative power of plant stem cells for rejuvenation.”

Despite the recession, the anti-ageing business and evidently luxury market appears not to have hiccoughed.  Despite needing long arms and short pockets to buy into these pricey regimes.  “People may watch cooking channels and eat in, not buy fresh flowers or vacation less” he says but not their anti-ageing products.  So the ‘lipstick index’ coined by Estee Lauder still holds true? Where Bentleys may stay in show rooms and designer brands vegetate on shop racks in hard times women, particularly buy more cosmetics (20% up in the great depression) . “Yes it does,” says Schulte, the recession didn’t hit us – not skincare. People may go out less, watch cooking channels and eat in and travel less but they are still steadfast in their allegiance to skin care.

Download the full article on collagen and anti-aging here.

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