Age-related changes in the elastic properties and thickness of human facial skin

Br J Dermatol. 1994 Nov;131(5):641-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2133.1994.tb04975.x.


Using recently designed, commercially available, non-invasive instruments, we measured the thickness and elasticity of the skin of the face and ventral forearm in 170 women, and evaluated the effects of age and exposure to sunlight. Skin thickness decreased with age in ventral forearm skin, which has limited exposure to sunlight, but increased significantly in the skin of the forehead, corners of the eyes, and cheeks, which are markedly exposed to sunlight. Skin elasticity (Ur/Uf) decreased with age on both the face and forearm. The ratio of viscosity element to elasticity element (Uv/Ue) increased with age at all sites. However, delayed distension (Uv), immediate retraction (Ur), final distension (Uf), and immediate distention (Ue), as individual elements, decreased on the face and increased on the forearm with age. This tendency was more marked after correction for skin thickness. These results suggested the specificity of skin thickness and elasticity in the facial skin. Analysis using a four-element model showed no changes in the elasticity coefficient of Maxwell element on the forearm, but an increase on the face. This indicates quantitative or qualitative changes in elastic fibres in facial skin. Thus, sunlight appears to have a considerable effect on the thickness and physical properties of facial skin.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / pathology*
  • Cheek
  • Elasticity
  • Face
  • Female
  • Forearm
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Skin / pathology*
  • Sunlight / adverse effects
  • Viscosity