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Skin Res Technol. 2000 Nov;6(4):214-221.

In vivo model of the mechanical properties of the human skin under suction.

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Institut de recherche Pierre Fabre, Toulouse, G.I.P. Ultrasons et unité I.N.S.E.R.M U.316. Faculty of Medicine, Tours, and Service de Dermatologie C.H.U Trousseau, Tours, France.



A new method for the in vivo characterization of the mechanical properties of skin has been developed. This comprises a suction chamber and an ultrasound device to measure both the vertical displacement of the skin's surface, and the skin's thickness.


A mathematical model of the mechanical behaviour of a taught elastic membrane is used to obtain a set of parameters intrinsic to the skin, such as Young's modulus (E) and the initial stress (sigma0), which reflect the stiffness and the natural tension of the skin, respectively. We also calculated an index of non-elasticity of the skin (unrestored energy ratio, UER), which takes into account the volume of tissue mobilized. It determines a ratio between the energy input to the skin and the energy it dissipates. These parameters were evaluated from the volar forearm of 10 normal male volunteers.


The results were: 129+/-88 kPa for E, 13.5+/-5 kPa for sigma0, and 0.42+/-0.04 for UER; with reproducibilities of 9.5%, 12.4% and 6.4%, respectively.


This new suction device was found useful for the study of the behaviour of the skin, and the device may be used for the evaluation of certain skin diseases and their therapy.


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