Chemists at Houston’s Rice University, near the heart of the Texas Medical Center, developed a new method for creating synthetic collagen. Collagen is a natural protein found in the skin that makes up about 75% of the skin’s composition. Both environmental exposures and advancing age reduce the body’s capability to produce collagen, which is essentially the skin’s fountain of youth, along with elastin. Collagen is a key component in banishing both fine lines and wrinkles. Though synthetic collagen has been engineered previously, Rice University’s formula is closer to the body’s native collagen than anything that has been produced before. In fact, the same chemical processes that break down the body’s native collagen also break down this iteration. At the present time, Rice researchers state that it is unknown whether this form of collagen can be used in the human body as a substitute for native or animal derived collagen. One of the next steps for Houston researchers is to determine whether stem cells are able to live in the synthetic collagen. Though clinical trials are forecasted several years into the future, this discovery is important for Houston’s medical community and for plastic surgeons nation-wide. The more tools plastic surgeons have to combat the aging process and perhaps reverse it, the more custom solutions there are for patients looking to improve their own aesthetics. Cosmetic Surgery Houston’s Michael Eisemann, M.D., is not only a great surgeon, but also a physician committed to remaining on the forefront of plastic surgery technology so that he can help patients sort through the plethora of information -- some of it junk, and some of it substantive.