Your skin is amazing and is the largest organ in the body!
It has so many functions related to the immune system, heat regulation such as sweating, getting rid of chemicals from the body, and absorbing or making vital nutrients.
In terms of protection, the skin has to provide a physical barrier between the body and the surrounding environment. Any number of chemicals or pathogens such as bacteria, fungus and viruses are constantly trying to attack us. The skin helps to prevent bacteria and other pathogens getting into our bodies. We have to prevent water and electrolytes loss as well as secrete all important lipids (oils). These lipids help moisturize our skin but also prevent water loss. The skin makes vitamin D via exposure to UVB light. The small hairs in our skin help to regulate our body temperature. There are several different layers of the skin which have different functions
The epidermis the top layer of skin. But within this layer there are several different layers of specialist skin cells that all have a slightly different function. The stratum corneum is the most superficial layer of the epidermis. In some areas of the body, it is quite thick and in other areas, thinner. Keratin forming cells (keratinocytes) are a key component of the stratum corneum. Keratin is a protein the helps to form hair, nails and the epidermis of the skin. It is critical for the health of these tissues because it protects cells from mechanical stress, and strengthens the nail, hair or skin. Keratinocytes also activate cholesterol precursors via UVB light to form Vitamin D, as well as regulate calcium absorption.
The stratum corneum sheds continually so that cells underneath can come to the surface. This is the way that the skin keeps renewing itself. As we age, unfortunately, this shedding slows down leading to thicker skin but also drier. This is because with slower shedding, nutrients have more difficulty penetrating into the skin and so the skin dries out. Chemical peels and other treatments which remove this top layer of skin, therefore helps the skin to renew itself and allow the nutrients from skin products to penetrate more effectively to deeper layers.
The deepest layer of the epidermis (stratum basale) separates the epidermis from the dermis. This layer has stem cells within it which produce the keratin which strengthens the skin, hair and nails. This layer also contains pigment forming cells – melanocytes (See section on skin colour). Melanocytes are responsible for the appearance of pigmentation in our skin for example, in response to sun exposure. There are many different treatments aimed at removing sun-spots and other consequences of photoaging. Including skin care products, laser, IPL, or chemical peels. Of course, application of SPF can help to prevent unwanted pigmentation spots.
Within the epidermis lies the sebaceous glands, aka, oil producing glands. These glands can either open directly onto the skin’s surface or empty into the hair follicle. Lots of these glands are found on the face. The oil produced from these glands is essential for skin health, as it provides an emollient for the skin, as well as the hair. This helps to slow down evaporation of water and therefore keep the skin and hair hydrated, but also keeps them soft and supple. However, the production of oil (or sebum) can get out of control and cause spots or acne. The production of oil is mainly under the influence of androgen hormones which is why younger people can be more prone to acne, but also middle-aged people when hormones change in the body again, especially during menopause.
Also in the epidermis are the sweat glands, and again many are found in the face, but also hands, feet and under arms. Sweat is necessary to allow any excess salt or unwanted chemicals to be removed from the body. Again, unfortunately for some, these glands become over-productive and lead to sweat being obvious through clothes in the case of underarms, or via hands, feet and head. There are treatments to help this too and can be discussed at consultation.
As discussed, the dermis is a deeper layer of skin underneath the epidermis separated by the stratum basale. This is the layer which houses fibroblasts which synthesize most of the components of our cell matrix. The extracellular matrix is the substance that helps to bulk out the skin and tissues and is found all over the body. Fibroblasts synthesise collagen and elastin which are our structural proteins. It also produces hyaluronic acid and other glycosaminoglycans. Furthermore, the fibroblasts produce adhesive proteins which help everything stick together (fibronectin and laminins). This is why fibroblasts are a key target of a lot of different treatments such as, microneedling, skin boosters, chemical peels, microdermabrasion, radiofrequency, IPL and laser. Collagen is a key component of wound healing as well, so is an important factor in scarring.
The hypodermis is found underneath the dermis and is the deepest layer. Bands of connective tissue attach it to the dermis. This layer contains fat tissue along with some of our sensory nerves, blood vessels and hair follicles. Fillers target this layer to aid with volume loss, which come from the loss of fat in this layer when we age.
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Here at London & Surrey Aesthetics we aim to help you through a journey of discovery about your skin, by discussing what your concerns and expectations are and coming up with a treatment plan designed for you.
We also aim to increase your knowledge about how to look after your skin at home and give you information.