You may have never heard of hyaluronic acid (HA) before, but this naturally-occurring substance plays an important role in your body, especially your skin. That said, you might not produce as much HA as you once did -- this tends to happen as we get older. Fortunately, this substance can be produced synthetically and injected into the body to restore one’s optimal HA levels. But before we get ahead of ourselves, you’re probably still wondering what HA is, exactly, and why it matters in the first place. Here’s everything you need to know about hyaluronic acid.
The “acid” part of HA’s title is a bit of a misnomer. In fact, HA is another name for a particular class of the sugar, glycosaminoglycan. While it’s not necessary for the average person to know this tidbit, it might put you at ease since acids typically have a certain connotation of being sharp, corrosive, and dangerous. Hyaluronic acid is actually good for the body and even necessary for certain functions such as wound healing and cell growth.
The magic of HA is that even small amounts of it can retain large amounts of water. Without getting too technical, HA molecules bind to water molecules with ease. This moisture-sealing property has made HA a popular substance in cosmetic dermatology, aiding in the maintenance of proper skin hydration. And well-hydrated skin doesn’t just look good -- it also promotes overall skin health, providing defense against inflammation, dermatitis, and even acne.
People develop wrinkles with age because their skin begins to thin, lose its elasticity, and dry out -- which happens as their natural amounts of HA diminish. Restoring one’s HA levels, then, can remedy these wrinkle-related problems. The hydrating aspect of HA mentioned above not only prevents skin from drying out, but also keeps one’s skin flexible and contributes to an even skin tone and texture. In this way, introducing more HA into one’s skin can mitigate signs of aging and make skin appear brighter, smoother, and more youthful.
There are different ways to bring more HA into the skin, via pills, creams, serums, lotions, and more which contain various levels of HA. The most direct method, however, is by injecting the skin with a hyaluronic acid dermal filler. Not all dermal fillers contain HA, but many do, including Juvederm and Restylane. These targeted treatments introduce HA to specific areas of the skin (namely dry, wrinkled areas) to restore volume, reduce lines and wrinkles, increase skin hydration, and promote collagen production.
While we have mainly been discussing hyaluronic acid’s various applications for improving skin health and appearance, HA benefits the body in other ways, too. Namely, HA can relieve joint pain, soothe acid reflux and inflammation inside the body, speed up healing, relieve eye dryness and discomfort, maintain bone strength, and more. For all these reasons, it’s important for individuals to maintain healthy levels of HA in their bodies.
We have just scratched the surface of HA, its applications, and its benefits. If you want to know even more about this amazing and important naturally-occurring substance, the experts at Vanguard Dermatology can give you the information you’re looking for. Additionally, we can help you decide if HA dermal fillers or supplements may be right for you.