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What are the health benefits of hyaluronic acid?

Published Mar 16, 2024 • By Claudia Lima

Hyaluronic acid is a molecule naturally present in the body, its largest concentration is found in the epidermis and cartilage. As we age, its quantity diminishes. Now considered a medical treatment, hyaluronic acid is produced by biotechnology in various forms.

Known for its skin care benefits, hyaluronic acid also relieves joint pain and is associated with innovative medical treatments. 

So what exactly is hyaluronic acid? What are its properties? What benefits can it have for our health?

We explain it all in our article!

What are the health benefits of hyaluronic acid?

What is hyaluronc acid?  

The term hyaluronic acid comes from the Greek word "hyalos" meaning glassy and the suffix "uronic", because hyaluronic acid contains hexuronic acid, an organic acid. 

Hyaluronic acid is a water-soluble polymer formed from glucuronic acid and N-acetylglucosamine. It is naturally present in the body and plays a crucial role in cell proliferation, joint protection, hydration and skin healing. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and can strengthen the immune barriers

Hyaluronic acid is: 

  • Hygroscopic: it retains up to 1000 times its weight in water, 
  • Visco-elastic: it is an excellent biomaterial for filling that infiltrates the extracellular space in tissues, playing an important role as a joint lubricant and shock absorber,
  • Anti-oxidant: it forms a protective film that maintains skin hydration and acts as a barrier against external agressions (UV, pollution),
  • Anti-radical: it neutralizes the free radicals that cause tissue ageing.


Today, the best-known benefits of hyaluronic acid include skin hydration and filling the space between skin cells, thus activating the synthesis of collagen, which improves skin firmness and tone.

Hyaluronic acid is mostly used in cosmetics to reduce wrinkles, and in rheumatology to treat osteoarthritis.

The concentration of hyaluronic acid decreases with age, leading to sagging skin and wrinkles. That is why it is an essential component in various skincare products.

Hyaluronic acid can be synthesized either by tissue extraction, a technique that has now been completely abandoned, or by modern biotechnology methods, which are much more reliable, using bacterial fermentation

What are the health benefits of hyaluronic acid?  

The various properties of hyaluronic acid provide solutions on several levels: in everyday life, for common ailments such as dry eyes or vaginal dryness, sore throats, loss of voice, and also for more disabling conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts and osteoarthritis of the knee.

Hyaluronic acid as a lubricant 

Hyaluronic acid lubricates tissues

In the case of dry eye syndrome, for example, its role is to compensate for lack of tears. In the case of vaginal dryness, hyaluronic acid restores hydration and increases the volume of the vaginal mucosa.

Hyaluronic acid as a protective barrier

Hyaluronic acid acts as a barrier to protect the mucosa and restore its integrity.

In the case of mouth ulcers and mouth sores, it ensures the hydration of the tissue and promotes regeneration, encouraging cell proliferation and adhesion at the site of the lesion due to the formation of a protective aqueous film that reduces pain.

Hyaluronic acid as osteoarthritis treatment

Hyaluronic acid plays a key role in the treatment of osteoarthritis. It is the main component of synovial fluid, which acts as a joint lubricant.  

In osteoarthritis, the concentration of hyaluronic acid decreases, leading to reduced elasticity of the cartilage tissue

Thanks to its properties, hyaluronic acid forms a highly viscous gel. The aim of injecting hyaluronic acid into the joint is to restore the mechanical properties of the cartilage and the synovial fluid. It is indicated in the symptomatic treatment of gonarthrosis, coxarthrosis and osteoarthritis affecting the small joints

Hyaluronic acid for wounds and scars

Hyaluronic acid is also a component of certain dressings: it promotes the healing of light to moderate chronic wounds, such as leg ulcers. It enables the multiplication and movement of fibroblasts and keratinocytes, necessary for the reconstruction of the destroyed dermis and epidermis.

What are the benefits of hyaluronic acid in skincare?  

The reduction in hyaluronic acid levels caused by the ageing processes leads to the appearance of wrinkles, loss of elasticity and dry skin.

Since the 90s, hyaluronic acid has been the leading molecule used in skincare products for hydrating and rejuvenating the skin: it helps improve skin tone and elasticity.

Two types of hyaluronic acid are used in aesthetic medicine and cosmetics: 

  • High molecular weight, used on the surface to smooth the wrinkles,
  • Low molecular weight, used deep down to plump the skin.

Hyaluronic acid is generally used alongside botulinum toxin to fill in the wrinkles. These two molecules are often confused. The aim of botulinum toxin is to reduce the depth of wrinkles, whereas hyaluronic acid is a filling product. 

There are many different ways one can benefit from the various properties of hyaluronic acid. Here are a few examples: 

Skincare at home 

There are day creams to moisturize and plump up the skin, moisturizing and smoothing masks, with short-term effects, and anti-ageing complexes with restructuring and antioxidant ingredients.

Hyaluronic acid injections

Hyaluronic acid injections are used in aesthetic medicine to correct the signs of ageing. They enable the skin to absorb water and remain deeply hydrated. These injections must be carried out by doctors.

Hyaluronic acid is injected in the form of a gel to fill in the wrinkles and restore the firmness of the skin on the face, hands and neck.

These injections can sometimes cause such reactions as hematomas, edema, redness and itching, but most of the time these reactions are temporary. Bumps may also appear under the skin, but disappear within a few months.

Mesotherapy 

This involves micro-injections of hyaluronic acid, combined with an antioxidant cocktail. It is ideal for revitalizing the skin after being exposed to the sun, but requires regular sessions.

What should you be aware of when using hyaluronic acid? 

These days, hyaluronic acid is readily available for cosmetic and aesthetic purposes. Nevertheless, you should take some precautions if you want to prevent complications.

Hyaluronic acid carries little or no risk in skincare products that can be used at home.

As for its use in aesthetic medicine, adverse reactions linked to hyaluronic acid injections carried out by non-physicians have been reported.

As already stated above, only doctors are authorized to carry out hyaluronic acid injections for aesthetic purposes.

As a general rule, the use of hyaluronic acid is absolutely contraindicated in children, pregnant or breast-feeding women, as well as in people with a history of hypersensitivity to hyaluronic acid or those who have had hepatitis C or rheumatoid arthritis with cardiac damage

It is relatively contraindicated in people with stable autoimmune diseases (ankylosing spondylitis, lupus), coagulation disorders or anticoagulant treatment in progress, or cardiac, hepatic or renal dysfunctions.


Hyaluronic acid is highly valued in the field of cosmetics and aesthetic medicine, due to its many benefits.

Scientific and technological advances will be able to make its usage more personalized, and help create even more targeted treatments.


 
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