In vivo measurements of the elastic mechanical properties of human skin by indentation tests

Med Eng Phys. 2008 Jun;30(5):599-606. doi: 10.1016/j.medengphy.2007.06.011. Epub 2007 Sep 14.


Knowledge about the human skin mechanical properties is essential in several domains, particularly for dermatology, cosmetic or to detect some cutaneous pathology. This study proposes a new method to determine the human skin mechanical properties in vivo using the indentation test. Usually, the skin mechanical parameters obtained with this method are influenced by the mechanical properties of the subcutaneous layers, like muscles. In this study, different mechanical models were used to evaluate the effect of the subcutaneous layers on the measurements and to extract the skin elastic properties from the global mechanical response. The obtained results demonstrate that it is necessary to take into account the effect of the subcutaneous layers to correctly estimate the skin Young's modulus. Moreover, the results illustrate that the variation of the measured Young's modulus at low penetration depth cannot be correctly described with usual one-layer mechanical models. Thus a two-layer elastic model was proposed, which highly improved the measurement of the skin mechanical properties.

MeSH terms

  • Dermis / physiology
  • Elasticity
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Skin Physiological Phenomena*
  • Subcutaneous Tissue / physiology
  • Viscosity