The Extracellular Matrix (ECM)

In the space between our cells lies an intricate network, called the Extracellular Matrix (ECM). No, Keanu Reeves won’t be found inside this matrix, but several important functions can be found here! This blog post will break down what the ECM does, how it functions in the aging process, and how skin treatments can directly target its’ components.

What is the Extracellular Matrix?

By definition, a matrix is an “environment or material in which something develops; a surrounding medium or structure” ( So, the extracellular matrix is the environment in which our cells develop. Fibroblasts produce the components of the ECM, and within the ECM high concentrations of collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid are found. Thus, the ECM provides structural support to the skin and is an important pathway for cell communication. Additionally, it plays an important role in wound healing and cutaneous infection prevention.

The ECM and Aging

Aging is inevitable, but the signs of aging skin vary depending on a multitude of factors; both internal (ie genetics) and external (air pollution, diet, UV exposure, etc). What happens to aging skin is loss of volume, reduced synthesis of collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid, and lack of hydration. Studies show that the most advanced anti-aging treatments would be those that are able to rebuild or restore the components of the ECM. This is for both physical and structural support to the skin, as well as the exchange of nutrients.

Treatments such as Divine Pro Voluderm RF Microneedling use the components of the ECM to provide antiaging treatment. This microneedling treatment creates channels in the skin which enable the ultra-thin needles to penetrate the deep dermal layer. The thermal energy and simultaneous micro-wounds caused in the skin, stimulate fibroblasts. This increases the production of ECM components like hyaluronic acid, collagen, and elastin. This unique technology, featuring ultra-thin needles, requires lower energy levels, increases treatment efficacy, and results in a visible, almost painless effect.

After 3 treatments Skin tightening and wrinkle reduction
Courtesy of Dr. Alex Levenberg, Tel Aviv, Israel

So, the ECM plays a major role in our skin health and longevity. While creams and ointments may prove to be minimally effective, targeting the components of the ECM directly provide long-lasting results!